Nova Scotia Changes Their Landlord & Tenant Act

Changes are a brewin’ in Nova Scotia. The province has made some amendments (what many landlords and renters consider to be overdue) to their landlord and tenant act that have taken effect November 15th.

Nova Scotia is a bit of a unique landscape for landlords and renters alike. OpenFile published a story in August entitled How To Survive Renting in Halifax – a piece that shone the light on some bad Haligonian landlord situations involving security deposits and issues related to the reasonable enjoyment of some occupied units.  The below is an excerpt from the piece by Lizzy Hill:

At first glance, our city seems like an ideal spot to rent an apartment in. The average rent for a two-bedroom apartment in 2011 was $925, compared with $1,237 in Vancouver and $1,149 in Toronto. And while other cities across Canada recently experienced slight decreases in their apartment vacancy rates, Halifax’s vacancy rates increased from 2.8 per cent in April 2011 to 3.2 per cent in April 2012—people haven’t been snatching up apartments as quickly as they did in years past, so renters presumably have a little more to choose from.

The Residential Tenancies Program sees around 5,000 applications to the director each year—meaning around five per cent of tenant-landlord relationships require dispute/resolution services each year, according to Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations’ spokesperson Susan Mader-Zinck. And those are just the cases that make it through theboard program’s bureaucratic application process.

CBC also published a story back in April of this year about groups of residents who were demanding better conditions on units they’ve been renting, and calling for a crackdown on bad landlords. Yikes.

The first significant change is that renters will now have automatic tenure – or right to tenancy, which means landlords have to provide a reason to evict a resident, and there has to be a hearing. Fixed term leases are an exception to this. Prior to these changes, tenants didn’t have tenure until they’d been living in an apartment for five years – at which point they were considered a long-term tenant and were afforded more rights. In that five years, a landlord could opt not to renew a tenant without reason. Some landlords will view this as a negative implication in the act’s changes, as in effect, it makes evicting tenants who pose a problem more difficult. Another perspective on this is that landlords will be extra particular when choosing a candidate to sign a lease with.

Another big change is that rent can only be 15 days late before the landlord can give a tenant notice that the lease will end. Tenants used to have 30 days under the old act. This is a positive change for landlords to be able to react at the RTP level. Another big change includes giving tenants on fixed-term leases the ability to end their leases early, without financial penalties, for health reasons.

Landlords are now required to give a copy of the Residential Tenancies Act to tenants within 10 days of the lease being signed, the keys being provided, the stated date of move in on a lease, or the move in date itself.

Some of these changes are efforts to address some of the concerns residents have about complaints to landlords resulting in a simple request to leave.

For more information on these changes, check out the following links:

Are you a landlord in Nova Scotia? What do you think of these changes? Share your stories and perspectives here. We’d love to hear them.