Territory is soft on tenants’ rights: NDP

The NDP Opposition is criticizing the government for not protecting tenants from price-gouging and without-cause evictions with its revamped Landlord and Tenant Act. The new act was tabled in the legislature on Nov. 1.

The NDP Opposition is criticizing the government for not protecting tenants from price-gouging and without-cause evictions with its revamped Landlord and Tenant Act.

The new act was tabled in the legislature on Nov. 1.

A public consultation was conducted this summer on proposed changes. Yet the feedback provided by more than 200 Yukoners only went online last week. The NDP had asked the territory to release this information numerous times, beginning on Nov. 5.

At first, Community Services Minister Elaine Taylor avoided the question.

“I just want to point out that the act that I tabled in the legislature just days ago actually reflects the comments that were received by the Select Committee on the Landlord and Tenant Act,” said Taylor on Nov. 8.

NDP members called on the government twice more to release the comments.

On Nov. 19, Taylor confirmed that her department was in possession of the comments and that they would be released on the Community Services website “in short order.”

Feedback from over 200 Yukoners went up online on Nov. 21.

The government announced that debate would begin on the act the following day, leaving opposition members little time to review submissions.

The feedback forms do show that some Yukoners are concerned with uncontrolled rent increases and without-cause evictions.

Many mentioned these issues in their comments, despite the fact that they were not asked about them directly.

When Taylor says that the proposed act reflects public comments, it is perhaps more accurate to say that it reflects the design of the questionnaire used to solicit those comments.

The questions on rental increases ask, “Should rental increases be limited to once a year?” and “Is three months the right amount of notice for rent increases?”

The respondent in each case could choose to answer “Yes” or “No,” with space for comments.

Certainly the feedback shows that Yukoners support these two proposals, and as such they have been included in the proposed legislation.

But most of those who commented asked for some kind of cap on rental increases, despite not having been asked directly if they would support one.

Similarly, the question referring to without-cause evictions asks, “What should the timeline be for a landlord to provide notice of termination without cause for a monthly tenancy?”

Options for responses are one month, two months, three months or other.

Despite not being asked, many respondents pointed out that they do not support without-cause evictions.

All jurisdictions in Canada apart from Yukon and New Brunswick require landlords to give a reason for terminating a tenancy.

The possible reasons include that they or a family member want to occupy the space, or that they have renovations planned. Some jurisdictions offer different timelines for different reasons.

Allowing terminations without cause would permit evictions based on the landlord’s prejudice or the tenant’s willingness to assert their rights, the NDP say.

When the NDP brought up these issues in front of the legislature, Taylor assured them that the new act serves to balance the rights of landlords and tenants.

“I’m finding a disturbing trend here by the members of the opposition and that is by their ability to cherry-pick certain specific submissions put forth by Yukoners and not telling the complete story,” said Taylor.

The NDP retaliated by accusing the government of consulting in bad faith.

“Engaging with the public is one thing, but using consultation to justify predetermined outcomes is quite another,” said MLA Kate White.

Debate on the act will continue.

Contact Jacqueline Ronson at

jronson@yukon-news.com