The Yukon Residential Landlord Association is sharing the results of a survey, which they say paints a bleak picture of the effects of the recently imposed rent-increase cap.
A representative of the Yukon NDP says the survey does an insufficient job of considering the views of tenants, some of whom faced rent increases in the hundreds of dollars per month without the cap.
The cap, which took effect on May 15, ties allowable rent increases in the territory to inflation. That means rent can only be increased by one per cent this year. It came about as part of an agreement between the NDP and the Yukon Liberals in order to secure support for the latter’s minority government.
In response to the rental increase freeze which drew criticism from the Yukon Party and inspired some confusion among landlords upon its release, the Yukon Residential Landlord Association issued a survey to collect responses to the freeze.
In the week it was open, 82 tenants, 176 landlords and eight other individuals responded to the survey.
A summary of the survey results released on June 24 states that 25 of the 82 tenants who responded said they had received a rental increase.
The 176 landlords who responded own a significant portion of Whitehorse’s rental units. According to the survey, they own a total of 1,251 rental units or 56 per cent of all rental accommodation in Whitehorse, based on Yukon Bureau of Statistics data from October 2020.
The survey results show an increase in the number of landlords who are now planning to raise the rent this year and also a sharp increase in the number of landlords who plan to sell their rental units, which coincided with the announcement of the rent freeze on April 28.
Along with those looking to sell, the survey heard from 78 landlords, the owners of 206 units, who said they are looking into converting their units to condos, a move that the residential landlords association says could further diminish the rental supply. More than half of the landlords surveyed also said they were either unlikely or very unlikely to invest more of their money in the Yukon.
“Landlords were blindsided with the surprise April announcement leaving them unable to position themselves properly prior to the implementation of the one per cent rent cap,” the residential landlord association’s summary of the survey results reads.
“Those landlords charging affordable or below-market rental rates prior to the announcement suffer the most as they will now be hard-pressed to raise rates to cover even just the increases in their basic operating costs.”
According to the summary, landlords have reported the most dramatic increases in the costs of power, insurance and condo fees.
Emily Tredger, the NDP MLA for Whitehorse Centre, said she has spoken with numerous tenants who have benefited from the freeze after potentially facing rent hikes in excess of 20 per cent more per month. She expressed concern that landlords have dominated the conversation around the increase cap because tenants fear eviction or other repercussions for speaking up.
She said she is proud of the help the cap has provided for tenants.
Tredger, a landlord herself, said she has also heard the concerns raised by landlords on rising costs. She said that in her own case, the rising cost of insurance has not been enough to justify the kinds of increases constituents have complained of.
She noted that most jurisdictions in Canada already have a cap placed on rental increases and the NDP considered the models in place in other provinces when coming up with the increase cap for the Yukon.
Contact Jim Elliot at firstname.lastname@example.org