Letters to the editor.

LETTERS: We are moving away, and housing is the reason

Dear News Team,

We have recently decided to leave the territory for good, although we just moved here in 2019. Housing is the reason, landlords are the cause.

When we first arrived, we were subletting and were supposed to take over the lease from the current tenant. The landlord agreed, after negotiating a $200 monthly increase to the original $2,000 (for less than 700sqf). However, when they found out that we were a family they asked me to leave.

I wasn’t aware that this was a Human Rights violation. They gave me a 15-day notice and threatened legal action should we not vacate by that time. As a newcomer to this country and the territory I had too much on my plate to fight this so I decided to find an alternative. In a clear position of weakness and state of increased desperation, I agreed.

A few days later and immediately upon viewing, I agreed to renting the property I am currently in, a 1974 duplex with original windows that clearly needed some work, but I had no option. I placed a $1,800 deposit and paid the first month rent, making that a total of $3,600.

I did ask the landlord to replace the windows and he mentioned he would at the earliest opportunity. The problem with the windows is that they stay frozen from winter to spring, something the landlord admitted in writing finally in an email exchange this year. Black mold was frequent in the house given the lack of fresh air which resulted in pneumonia I suffered last year as I started working from home and getting less fresh air.

Bugs started eating away the window frames, something that was also brought to the landlord’s attention — none of this was addressed. This summer I decided to take the issue to the Yukon Residential Tenancies Office. When I explained the case I was told I had to pay $50 to process the claim, which I did. After submitting the claim I asked what were my chances of having this problem resolved favorably and I was told that they wouldn’t say but that I should start looking for a place to stay as the landlord can ultimately take the property off the market and still have me vacate legally.

This conversation made me realize how the current system over-empowers landlords; they know they can get away with almost anything, they have in my case, and tenants, in a clear position of weaknesses, will accept and be grateful for whatever they can get, as I did.

Ultimately, my landlord asked me to leav. They claim taking (and winning) this issue to the RTO is not the reason, and they’re not retaliating, although facts would suggest otherwise.

Conveniently, our fixed two-year rental agreement is now a month-to-month agreement and by law the landlord is not required to have a reason to terminate the contract. While the law may not allow them to increase the rent to $2,500 — which my neighbors are now paying for the same property type and specs — they can have me removed, proceed with upgrades when they can and charge whatever they please.

There is nobody stopping this abuse and it is now clear that the next tenant, thankful for the opportunity of shelter, will be happy to pay more and put up with a property that lacks minimum rental standards as I have.

The RTO resolution states that they recognize the landlord’s efforts to address the situation (two years too late) given recent communication shared as proved by the landlord that he recently placed a deposit at a local shop, and that as we have now entered a month-to-month agreement I must leave.

They also give the landlord until next year to bring the windows up to rental standards without penalty for the lack of compliance and without clarifying whether or not he is able to put the property up for rent again. This is appalling, as they request him to upgrade the windows without stating the wrongdoing and recognize the landlord’s efforts to resolve this issue two years later, something that clearly deserves no recognition. This leaves it up to the reader of the resolution to decide whether or not I am a reasonable person. How will my next landlord interpret the resolution is not clear, but I doubt this makes me look good.

What’s clear is that while we address the housing crisis, families will need a place to stay and will likely rent, among other things to save up for a higher down payment. These families need help, they deserve better.

Others like us will decide to leave the territory altogether because the feelings of anxiety and hopelessness are not worth what Yukon has to offer at present. These are strong words, but our life here hasn’t been easy. I wonder how many people has Yukon lost to housing.

There is a clear lack of checks and balances in a market where many, white and blue collar workers alike, lucky enough to have bought property before the crisis began, are benefiting from the status quo and little is being done to address this issue.

Addressing rental standards while improvements to the housing market are in the works would help tenants feel more secure and send the right message so young families like ours stay and wait while things improve.


A Riverdale resident

In response to YESAB’s requests for comments

Science has proven that building back roads, back into the forested environment, is a strike against all wildlife. The same can be said for trails made by snow machines and ATVs. Once a snowmobile goes off into the bush and returns in the same route, in reality, that is a packed down trail for animal predators to use.

I would bring to the attention of YESAB, scientific documents undertaken on this subject, by the University of Montana, along with scientific documents of the Fish and Wildlife Department of Alberta, on the damage these roads have done to the Alberta northern border southern boreal forest region, to the former Caribou herd. These new back roads have opened up the freedom of the wolf and it’s serious as well fatal demise of the former Northern Alberta Caribou herds.

As a former Conservation Officer from Ontario, during the late 50s and early 60s, I saw the increase damage Snowmobiles were doing as they freely made new trails into the backland where big game had their winter yards. There was no control to where these off road machines could go. From flying the deer yards in the winter months, one could also see how these new trails were opening up the yards to predators.

I would also point out that timber harvest roads going into the back lands that are just left open after harvest is complete, are often left as they were, that is an open avenue for easy travel for the predator such as the wolf, and to poacher. There should be a law that the company making such roads, be responsible for tearing up the roads and the planting of vegetation and trees that are a value to wildlife, and not just to the forest industry.

Murray Martin

Letters to the editor