Y2Kicked out? By Oona Woods Pressure for accommodation next New Year’s Eve is already building with property managers reporting that vacancies are snapped up immediately on entering the housing pool. The demand for accommodation will increase the closer we get to New Year’s Eve 2000. For units which can legally be rented nightly or weekly, there is already zero vacancy for the Christmas-New Year’s period. But this dynamic could also create an uneasy situation for full-time residents in rental properties, as their landlords eye their home like they would look at a bank vault. So what protection are tenants offered in pre-millennium Whistler? "The tenant is protected under law," says the Whistler Housing Authority’s Rick Staehli. "You sign a lease for a technical period of time. There is a beginning and end date. If the end date happens to be the 31st it will end at midnight so there will be no opportunity to use the suite. But with an end of month lease during the holidays you’d never get a car the next day, you can’t get movers, can’t get landlords. Over the Christmas period people want to make sure they’re covered." Staehli says B.C. has the strongest tenant protection laws in Canada. "Legally a person is protected, but that’s not the problem. The problem is if the person is traumatized. It’s not good for the municipality, the whole community will suffer from a bad name. The fact is for every good intention there’s a shyster out there looking to make a buck." This is a sentiment echoed by the municipal Bylaw department, which keeps an eye on the illegal rental situation in Whistler. "In terms of enforcement it really comes down to catching them at it," says Bylaw enforcement officer Ivor Toop. As a landlord in Whistler you cannot legally rent out your auxiliary dwelling or a suite to tourists by any means. It’s got to be to someone who lives and works here. The way you tell the tourists apart from the locals is by looking at their fixed place of living. A person’s fixed place of living is where you return to when absent. "Then you get into semantics," says Toop with the air of a man who has had this discussion a hundred times. "A tourist is not in their ‘fixed place of living’ because they are coming from somewhere else and going back there and it doesn’t refer to ‘returning to the place when absent’ after getting a piece of pizza from the grocery store." This will still apply on New Year’s Eve when the temptation to rent out property for millennium money will be greater. "We have to catch them advertising, or someone has to complain. Basically what’s to stop people?," says Toop. "It just depends how morally grounded people are. Will they kick tenants out to make a quick extra buck? Catching them is not a quick fix. There is a process to go through. A process, then lengthy legal proceedings and it’s expensive. So it’s an honour system. If you’re a good person you’re not going to kick tenants out, but with the world being the way it is today stuff like that does happen."