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Letter: Broadening the conversation about rent control

In the April 10th Letter to the Editor titled “A Thank You,” the Yukon Residential Landlord Association listed a number of alarming-seeming outcomes they believe will result from the recent changes regarding rent control and the ban on no-cause evictions: things like fewer rental units, more intense vetting of tenants, deterioration of the quality of housing stock, and higher rents.

The Yukon Tenants Association (YTA), which aims to advocate on behalf of current and future tenants, would like to thank the landlord association for the concern that they have expressed as to the well-being of renters in the Yukon. However, we also wish to reassure the landlord association and others who share their concerns that numerous studies have shown rent control may not have the negative impacts on the rental supply that the landlords worry it could.

For example, a study of the effects of rent regulations in Manitoba concluded that “there is no evidence that rent regulations have caused a reduction in the stock of rental accommodation.”

The decline in the size of the “primary” rental housing sector as defined by the CMHC reflects a national-wide trend towards home ownership.” (Grant, Hugh; 2011)

Additionally, a policy brief out of the Haas Institute at UC Berkeley, says that “the disadvantages of rent control policies do not outweigh its benefits. Claims that rent control has negative effects on development of new housing are generally not supported by research, but if there are some modest effects in that direction, they should be mitigated by other policy and investment mechanisms.”

The Yukon Residential Landlord Association may believe that landlords and tenants alike have a great deal to fear from the new regulations. However, the YTA believes these changes can benefit people on all sides of the rental market. Tenants who feel greater certainty about being able to stay in their home may be more likely to make improvements that will last into the future. Landlords who know that they cannot evict a tenant without cause may be more likely to want to get to know their tenants, and set clear expectations based on mutual respect and conversation. Landlord and tenant regulations that aim to rebalance the power dynamic may lead to more people on all sides acting in good faith, as members of a shared community, rather than adversaries on opposite sides of a conflict.

A study out of Columbia Business School states that “Contrary to conventional wisdom, increasing the scope of rent stabilization and housing voucher systems are also welfare improving. […] Increasing the housing safety net for the poorest households creates welfare gains for society.”

We at the YTA believe that reducing the financial burdens and emotional stress that tenants experience is ultimately good for the community as a whole. We hope that the members of the Yukon Residential Landlord Association, our “partners in housing Yukoners,” can broaden their views, move past their fears, and truly work together to create a housing system that benefits everyone.

The Yukon Tenants Association