Yukon still waiting on tenant protections

The Yukon government passed updated landlord and tenant rules two years ago, but without the necessary regulations in place, renters are still waiting on promised protections.

The Yukon government passed updated landlord and tenant rules two years ago, but without the necessary regulations in place, renters are still waiting on promised protections.

“The Yukon government is pleased to put forward modern residential tenancy legislation that reflects best practices from across the country and balances the interests of both landlords and tenants in a fair and measured approach,” said Elaine Taylor, minister for Community Services at the time, in November of 2012.

That legislation has yet to come into effect.

One promised change is to limit landlords to one rent increase per year, although the amount of the increase is not limited.

Landlords can evict tenants without cause so long as they give two months notice.

The government has set up a Residential Tenancies Office that is supposed to make binding resolutions in disputes between landlords and their renters.

But until the act and regulations come into force, renters still have little recourse outside of the courts.

Micheal Noseworthy, director for residential tenancies with Community Services, said landlords and renters can currently go to that office for information and advice about their responsibilities under the old law.

“We can provide information and education here. We try to sort of mediate disputes between landlords and tenants if that’s an option. But if somebody wants a binding order, they have to go to court currently.”

Staff are getting the formal dispute resolution process ready for when regulations are in place, he said.

“We’re hoping it’s going to make things easier to access for people and faster and hopefully a little bit less formal.”

He couldn’t say when the changes would come, except that it would be “soon.”

“We do have to finish developing those regulations,” said Noseworthy. “There’s an approval process that we have to go through and then the legislation has to be proclaimed.”

NDP housing critic Kate White said renters in bad situations are showing up at the NDP offices because they aren’t finding the help they need elsewhere.

“People don’t come to my office when things are going awesome, to be perfectly clear,” said White. “People don’t come here when life is awesome. They come here when they’re stressed out and they don’t know where to go.”

Yukoners have been waiting long enough, she said.

“They were talking about all these fantastic things this office is going to do, but when exactly are they going to do it?

“There’s no clarity for landlords, there’s no clarity for tenants. There are no regulations in place, there’s nothing to follow. There’s nothing to reference. People who are often in precarious positions, it’s just putting them in more precarious positions.”

The government consulted on proposed regulations in February.

The regulations will deal with what must be included in tenancy agreements, the dispute resolution process and minimum rental standards.

The consultation also dealt with how rental standards will be applied to those who live in hotels long term.

White asked Community Services Minister Brad Cathers when the act will come into force in the legislature last week.

“What the member for Takhini-Kopper King may not be aware of is the good work that has been done in the Department of Community Services in establishing the Residential Tenancies Office and, in collaboration with other departments, conducting consultation this spring and giving thorough policy consideration to the important issues that were raised during that discussion and to the feedback from Yukoners,” said Cathers.

“That work is progressing and I look forward to, in the not-too-distant future, being able to announce regulations, once they have been reviewed and approved by cabinet.”

Contact Jacqueline Ronson at

jronson@yukon-news.com

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