Yukon Liberal, NDP agreement includes immediate ban on evictions without cause
While some advocacy organizations welcome the policies, other groups say it's too much too soon
Organizations in the Yukon are reacting to big changes for tenants and landlords, including a long called-for ban on no-cause evictions that came into effect overnight.
The new confidence and supply agreement (CASA) between the Yukon's Liberals and the territory's NDP includes significant changes in rental regulations — and while some advocacy organizations welcome the policies, other groups say it's too much too soon.
Emily Tredger, housing critic for the Yukon NDP and MLA for Whitehorse Centre, celebrated the new regulations.
"We are so so proud of this agreement and of what it's going to do, in particular for tenants," she said.
The new regulations prohibit landlords from evicting tenants without providing a reason. Until this week, the Yukon was one of the only places in Canada where that was allowed.
"I was thinking yesterday and today of people, in particular of a woman I met who was being evicted. She was a senior, and she had been living in her home for over 10 years, and she was evicted with no reason given," Tredger said.
"She said, 'it's too late for me. But I hope that I can make a difference for people in the future.' And you know what? She's done it."
'Greater justice for tenants'
The new CASA also includes a commitment to initiate a review of the Residential Landlord and Tenant Act by June of this year and adds more stipulations around yearly rental increases.
Kate Mechan, executive director of the Yukon's Safe at Home Society, said she's happy to see greater protections for tenants included in the new CASA.
The Safe at Home Society had included a ban on no-cause evictions and a review of the act in its list of 10 calls to action released in the summer.
"We were calling for these actions because we're really seeing the disproportionate impact that no cause evictions in particular (were) having on vulnerable community members," she said.
"It also follows suit with what the rest of the country is doing. So that will mean that we're following suit with greater justice for tenants."
Concerns about rent cap
But not everyone is happy about the changes.
Lars Hartling, president of the Yukon Residential Landlord Association, said he's worried about how the ban will affect people who own rental properties.
Hartling opposes additional regulations for evictions. He also takes issue with the new guidelines on rental increases. Like in the previous CASA, landlords can raise rent once a year in accordance with changes to the consumer price index.
But the new CASA adds a minimum and maximum rate for rent increases, stipulating rent cannot be raised more than five per cent annually even if the rate of inflation exceeds that.
"We're living through a unique time of almost hyperinflation," Hartling said. "Which, of course, just means that the landlords will be having to carry those costs."
Tredger said the cap on rent increases is to protect tenants from bearing the brunt of inflation.
Hartling also noted it's been hard for landlords to adjust to changes that haven't gone through the typical legislative process.
"Our organization is shocked that we're at this point," Hartling said.
The ban on no-cause evictions and changes to the rent cap were brought into effect immediately through orders in council that amended the regulation.
"They say in the CASA agreement they want to consult in early summer," Hartling said, referring to the planned review of the Residential Landlord and Tenant Act.
"How can they consult in good faith when they've already enacted the rules that we have to play by?"
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Ben Pereira, a director at the Whitehorse Chamber of Commerce, said the chamber had several concerns about the new agreement.
"We would not like to see the government creating prohibitive new regulations around rent controls…or how tenants and landlords can contract amongst themselves," he said.
Pereira suggested the Yukon government should focus on investing in social housing and increasing housing supply to ease the tight rental market instead of creating more regulations.