Renting Well Blog

Nova Scotia Needs To Revisit Their Residential Tenancies Act

There’s a serious loophole in the province’s law

This is a doozy of a story that both CBC and the National Post reported on. Jason Selby just wanted to rent his house out to a good tenant. When he met Nadav Even-Har, he thought he found one. He was presented with glowing previous references and an equally impressive credit report after he and his family (including two small children) came to an initial meeting with Selby.

“They rolled up in a BMW and Audi. They presented a credit report with a high score. Their references checked out and they have two young children, so I thought that … it would be wonderful to be able to have the home used for a family.”

Even-Har signed a 12-month, fixed-term lease for the home in Cole Harbour with rent at $2,000 per month, beginning in May of this year. The first rent check post signing of the lease, bounced in June, and he never saw another dime after that. The postdated rent cheques Selby received were written from closed bank accounts.

This is how is it all went down…

He initially gave the family a 45 day grace period in good faith. After that yielded nothing but excuses from Even-Har, Selby applied to Service Nova Scotia for an eviction. Two weeks later, he filed for a hearing before a residential tenancy officer. When Even-Har didn’t appear at the hearing, he was ordered to pay more than $5,000 in rent and to leave by Sept. 1. Selby obtained an eviction order on September 3rd.

Even-Har immediately appealed to Nova Scotia’s Residential Tenancies board and the eviction was stayed until a court hearing on Sept. 23.

When Selby showed up for the hearing, Even-Har again wasn’t present, and Selby was granted a court order to evict him. When Selby removed Even-Har’s belongings from the home on Sept. 29, Even-Har called police. The police arrived and did not accept Selby’s notice of vacant possession. A spokesperson for Nova Scotia’s Justice Department said Even-Har went back to the court before the eviction decision by the Residential Tenancies board was reflected in the computer.

Another stay order was issued – but the court ultimately admitted it was issued in error. Once that was established, Selby moved to proceed with the eviction with a sheriff, only to find out that Even-Har had appealed his eviction to the Nova Scotia Supreme Court and delayed the process until another  court date on Oct. 11. Keep in mind, at this point – Even-Har was in arrears more than $8000. Selby vented about his experience on Facebook.

That’s when he heard from Lori Sampson of Cole Harbour. She said she had rented her home at 60 Tamara Dr. to Even-Har in August 2018 and had a similar experience.

Then Jaro Schubert came forth. He owns a café and Airbnb in Fall River, N.S. He said Even-Har owes him nearly $5,000 for rent and food dating back to this spring.

On October 15th, CBC News published a story after having spoken to the eight  (you read that right) landlords who said they’ve failed to collect rent or damage deposits from Even-Har between 2013 and last month. With the cat out of the bag – Even-Har tried to get in front of the growing story with an interview with CBC for that same piece. He defensively admitted to the trend and vowed to make amends to the previous landlords he’d wronged while comparing his situation to someone who is caught up in a payday loan cycle. The intimate knowledge of the provincial appeal process, the granting of stays, the timing of data being entered into Service Nova Scotia databases, and the pattern of not being available for hearing dates for a variety of reasons are also obviously elements to his circumstances that he didn’t intend to play out as they did. The ability to delay and defer on a landlord’s dime in Nova Scotia is problematic.

Patricia Arab, the minister responsible for Service Nova Scotia, said the Even-Har case has led her department to look to other jurisdictions for guidance on how to avoid similar incidents.

“Even if it’s just this one individual … it’s opened up an issue that’s an important one to address so we don’t get to a point where people are using this loophole in the Residential Tenancies Act to avoid rent.”

The story ends on a good note. On October 16th, Selby reclaimed possession of the home, but is still out over $8000. He is advocating for a provincial review of the Residential Tenancies Act. Frankly, it’s needed. Provincial governments need better mechanisms in place to more effectively identify and deal with glaringly obvious cases of professional tenancy like this as early in the process as possible. Otherwise, single instances like this, as has been demonstrated, yield hundreds of thousands of dollars of loss.

Author: Chris Saracino

Chris is a co-founder of Renting Well and heads up our marketing and communication efforts. He's also the landlord of two buildings and 8 units in Ottawa, Ontario.

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