Liberals woo renters

Yukon’s Liberals are promising renters a $600 tax break. “We’re bringing this in as an emergency measure to help with the housing crisis we’re struggling with now,” said Dan Curtis, the party’s candidate for Riverdale South.

Yukon’s Liberals are promising renters a $600 tax break.

“We’re bringing this in as an emergency measure to help with the housing crisis we’re struggling with now,” said Dan Curtis, the party’s candidate for Riverdale South.

The perk would take the form of a refundable tax credit, not to be confused with a tax deduction. Come tax time, each recipient would see $600 rebated to them, regardless of their income.

“We’re trying to help as many people as we can,” said Christie Richardson, the Liberals’ candidate for Riverdale North.

Both candidates expect the benefit to help “thousands” of Yukoners – including the many renters who live in their ridings. Riverdale is home to nearly 350 apartment units.

The Liberals would begin offering the credit this year, up until at least 2015. It’s expected to cost the territory $2.5 million annually.

Like the tax break offered to northern residents, the rental credit would only be available to one person per rental unit. Depending on how tenants filed their taxes, they could choose to split the benefit.

Eligible applicants would also have to live in the territory continuously for at least six months.

Monday’s announcement forms a part of a Liberal strategy to address the territory’s housing shortage. Earlier, the party announced it would double the Yukon’s homeowners grant.

That commitment would see the grant’s ceiling lift to $900, from $450, for most homeowners. Seniors would see the grant rise to $1,000, from $500.

More housing announcements are to come, said Curtis. “Stay tuned.”

The vacancy rate for rental units in Whitehorse stood at 1.2 per cent in June, according to the Yukon’s bureau of statistics. That’s up by 0.6 per cent from one year ago.

Rents have risen by about 17 per cent over the past five years, depending on how you cut it.

Median rent in Whitehorse was $785, up from $675 five years ago. Mean rent was $803, up from $677 five years ago.

Average rent in July varied considerably by neighbourhood, from $835 in Riverdale to $700 in Takhini.

Contact John Thompson at johnt@yukon-news.com.