Letters to the editor.

Today’s mailbox: a landlord in support, a former renter opposed to the new cap

A landlord in support of the rent cap

I was pretty shocked by the letter from a landlord last week. As a landlord myself, I have no issue with limiting rent increases to inflation like the government is doing right now.

I bought a condo in Whitehorse a few years ago, which I’ve rented out to various tenants for a number of years. I’ve been fortunate enough to own this home as well as the one I live in, which is a luxury that not many Yukoners enjoy.

Anyone living in the Yukon today knows that we’re in a housing crisis. People are being priced out of Whitehorse and the communities, families are living in cramped apartments for more than they would ever be approved for a mortgage, and it’s nearly impossible for first-time buyers to get into the market.

As a landlord, I would never want to increase rent in a way that would be unfair to our tenant. Any landlord will tell you that having good tenants is invaluable. I also know that, on top of being an investment, my property is also a home to my tenants.

I don’t believe that landlords are malicious or bad people – if I did, I wouldn’t be one. But I also think that we’ve had it very good for a very long time – there are virtually no rules that protect tenants from price-gouging. Anyone who plays any role in the housing market knows that the market is too hot, and only seems to be getting worse.

If our territory continues to grow the way it has, we need to make sure that people can afford to live in the territory. We’ve welcomed so many talented and wonderful people to the territory over the last few years, and are continuing to see Yukoners choosing this territory as their long-term home. Why not offer them a little bit of predictability in this tense market?

Like any business, there are some years where I will make a bit more and some years where I make less. What I remember amidst these variations is, at the end of the day, I have tenants who are paying for my mortgage. That’s a pretty affordable position to be in.

Sincerely,

Jean-Francois Des Lauriers

A renter opposed to the rent cap

For once the government has me so disappointed that I barely even know where to start regarding the rental cap policy. I could go on about how economists overwhelmingly agree that rent controls are incredibly destructive to the rental housing industry for potential rental developers, landlords, and renters. That ninety five per cent of economists believe that rent controls have a negative effect on the quality and quantity of housing in the cities that have used them. And that economic studies have also demonstrated that rent controls have failed to prevent increased rents and rental housing unaffordability.

Or, I could merely point out something that is just plain common sense… that all of our housing issues are directly related to a lack of supply and that anyone who’s given this any real thought would quickly realize that the more restrictions the government puts in place that the less rental units private investors will build… meaning the supply issue will under this policy only become more strained than it currently is, making the housing woes for tenants even worse then they currently are.

I could provide all sorts of quotes like this one from Swedish economist Assar Lindbeck who once asserted, “In many cases rent control appears to be the most efficient technique presently known to destroy a city — except for bombing,” or economist Rebecca Diamond who concluded that “Yes, there are some winners in rent control; but the losing is more widespread, and longer term.”

Or I could merely point out how appalling it is that the rent cap policy introduced by Kate White and Sandy Silver is so flawed and ill thought out that it actually encourages landlords to evict their tenants in order to charge rents close to market rate. Secondly it’s even worse that Kate White and Sandy Silver actually introduced a policy that turned the dream ideal long term tenant into a financial liability for landlords.

Just think that through for a second.

Yes Kate White, Sandy Silver, and the NDP and Liberal partnership or whatever you want to call it actually created such a scenario… one where long term tenants – which prior to last month were the dream tenants are now, sadly, a liability. And that same policy will now make it a necessity to regularly evict ones tenants every few years just to charge a fair market price. Of which those now homeless tenants will find a more expensive market due to government rental caps forcing landlords to charge market rates and an even tighter rental market due to less units being built by private investors. And the only way we’re going to solve this problem is through private investors. The government can’t, despite what they will claim, build enough units fast enough to correct this problem.

As someone who had rented for most of the last decade… if I were a renter today, this policy that is supposedly there to help me would scare the crap out of me. At least previously my own government wasn’t encouraging landlords through policy to evict tenants just to charge a fair market price for rent. Nor was that same government telling landlords to charge as much as possible just in case that tenant decided to stay a while or the government imposed new restrictions on landlords thus limiting said landlord’s return in future years. I get that the government wants to help with regards to the housing issue here… but the only real solution is a significant influx of new units and anyone who’s given this any real thought knows that will never happen with such a policy in place – one only needs to read history and the data to understand that.

But I get it… it’s far better to be seen to be doing something… anything – even they know it’s not effective, then it is to do nothing at all… at least if you’re an elected official in a government reduced to minority status fishing for votes.

Jordan Rivest

Whitehorse YT

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