Tenant rights and landlord rights in nova scotia

Governing or Regulatory Body

Access Nova Scotia

Name of Act / Regulations

  • Residential Tenancies Act and Regulations

Types of Housing/Living Arrangements Covered by the Provincial Legislation

All residential rental properties.

Exclusions: Educational institutions (colleges, universities etc), hospitals, correctional facilities, hotels, motels, special care facilities

Types of Rental Periods

Rental agreements can be week-to-week, month-to-month, year-to-year and fixed term.

Is a signed lease required?

The Regulations prescribe a standard form of lease to be used for rental agreements between landlords and tenants. If a written lease is not used, or if another form of lease other than the prescribed one is used, all of the terms listed in the standard form are still applicable.

Is a signed move in/move out inspection report required?

No. An written inspection report is completely voluntary and can be found online at http://www.gov.ns.ca/snsmr/forms/pdf/Rental_Unit_Conditiion_Report.pdf

Deposits

The amount charged for a security deposit cannot legally exceed the equivalent of ½ month’s rent. Landlords are required to put all security deposits collected from tenants in a trust account. The landlord is also required to return the deposit with 0% per year interest when the tenant moves out. If landlords wish to keep part or all of the deposit to cover damages or outstanding rent, they have to apply to a Residential Tenancies Office for permission.

Key Money

It is illegal for landlords to require tenants to provide key money. The only money that landlords can collect from tenants is a security deposit as well as first month’s rent; however, tenants can be charged a fee if they lock themselves out of their unit and require new keys to be issued to them, provided this fee is mentioned somewhere in the lease.

Post-dated Cheques

Post-dated cheques can only be requested by landlords if the specific box on the standard lease is checked; otherwise they cannot be required.

Renewal of a Lease

All year-to-year tenancies renew for another year if notice to terminate is not given by either the landlord or tenant. For the rental agreement to be terminated, notice must be given three months prior to the anniversary date of the initial signing of the lease. If tenants want to change their tenancy from a year-to-year to a month-to-month tenancy, they are required to give at least 3 months advance notice, and their landlord must approve of the change.

Terminating a Tenancy (Lease): Notice and Timing

Before a lease can be terminated, the landlord and tenant both have a responsibility to re-negotiate the terms of the lease or decide to terminate it altogether. A tenant cannot give notice during a fixed term lease unless the tenant has been victim to domestic violence. Fixed term leases expire automatically. Once a fixed term expires, the landlord no longer has any obligation to the tenant. If the tenant decides to stay in the unit after the end of the fixed term and the landlord poses no objections, a month-to-month lease then goes into effect. When a lease is renewed by the tenant, unless otherwise specified, other than the new term of the lease, all other conditions and terms of the lease remain intact and relevant.

If a tenant is a victim of domestic violence, the tenant has the right to terminate the fixed term lease by giving one month’s prior notification to the landlord and giving the landlord a Certificate Confirming Grounds to Terminate Tenancy Due to Domestic Violence, which is issued by the Director of Victim Services. The tenant is required to give notice and the certificate to the landlord within a period of not more than 60 days after the certificate has been issued to them.

Due to recent changes that have been made to the Residential Tenancies Act, any tenant with a periodic lease is automatically granted tenure, meaning their lease cannot be terminated without a valid reason from the landlord. A tenant is still allowed to terminate their own lease.

In order to end the lease, different notices apply depending on the term length of the lease:

  • Year-to-year lease: tenant must provide landlord with 3 month’s advance notice
  • Month-month lease: tenant must provide landlord with one month advance notice
  • Week-to-week lease: tenant must provide landlord with 1 week advance notice.
All notices are required to be put in writing.

Assignments and Sublets

Sublets, not assignments, are mentioned in the Nova Scotia legislation. Landlords are required to approve the new tenant for sublets and cannot deny a request for a sublet without a valid reason. All tenant requests for a sublet have to be put in writing before they can be approved. There is a sublet fee (not to exceed $75) that may be charged to the tenant if it is specified on the lease.

Rent Increases: Notice and Timing

Excluding manufactured homes (previously mobile homes) and land-lease communities (previously mobile home parks), there are no rent controls in Nova Scotia. Landlords set rental rates for their units. Landlords, regardless of which type of residential rental unit, can only increase the rent once every 12 months and are required to provide written notice to the tenant 4 months prior to the anniversary date of the tenancy.

With regards to land-lease communities, each year Access Nova Scotia’s Residential Tenancies Program will publish an Annual Allowable Rent Increase Amount (AARIA), which landlords are required to refer to when determining how much to increase a tenant’s rent. The AARIA is published on or before March 1st of each year, and it applies to all rental increases with an effective date from January 1 to December 31 of the next year.

The Annual Allowable Rent Increase Amount for the upcoming 2014 year, between January 1, 2014, and December 3, 2014, is 2.9%. The Annual Allowable Rent increases between January 1, 2015, and December 31, 2015, is 1.6%.

Late Rent Payments

Rent is deemed late after a period of 15 days in a month-to-month, year-to-year or fixed-term tenancy. Rent is deemed late after a period of 7 days in a week-to-week tenancy, and rent is late after a period of 30 days for tenants living in manufactured homes. With a majority of leases, after a period of 15 days, the landlord can give notice to the tenant to pay their rent in full or vacate the property within 15 days of receiving the notice. If the tenant fails to take any action, they can be served with a notice to vacate the property immediately.

Evictions

There are a number of reasons why a tenant can be evicted. The required notice period for eviction depends on the ground for the eviction. Some of the reasons for eviction include:

  • If the rent has not been paid in 15 days or
  • If the tenant violates the statutory conditions in the Act.

The landlord is required to apply to have the matter mediates or a hearing will be held. Both mediation and hearings are types of dispute resolution. If the mediation option is selected, both parties will attempt to reach an agreement and at that point they must sign a mediated settlement, which is a binding contract between the two parties. If the hearing proceeds, the landlord and tenant will each be heard and they may bring forth evidence to support their case. A Residential Tenancies Officer ultimately makes the final judgment by issuing an order to one or both of the parties. The landlord must take the order issued to the court administrative offices to have it converted into an eviction order that only the Sheriff’s office is able to enforce. There may be some delays in obtaining the eviction order if the tenant appeals the officer’s decision to Small Claims Court.

Fine Points

Landlord Entry

Landlords are required to provide tenants with 24 hours notice in writing with details as to when they will be entering the premises. Entry is only allowed between the hours of 9 a.m. and 9 p.m. Landlords can legally enter at any time during daylight hours without prior notification, but only if a notice to quit has been given. A landlord may also enter a tenant’s property in the event of an emergency.

May the tenant withhold rent for repairs?

No. A tenant is required to make an application for dispute resolution to take action for all necessary repairs.

Changing Locks

This is only allowed if both parties agree to it.

Pets and Smoking

Is a landlord allowed to refuse to rent to a tenant who has pets?

According to Nova Scotia’s legislation, landlords are allowed to implement their own rules to promote the fair and equal distribution of services; promote the safety, comfort, or general well-being of tenants; or to protect the landlord’s own property. Section 9A of the Residential Tenancies Act gives landlords the right to do this. Examples of rules that can be established by landlords include rules around the operation of laundry facilities as well as storage of hazardous materials.

Rules that landlords set must apply to all tenants living in the complex/property in a fair manner and all tenants must receive a copy of the rules before signing a lease. A landlord can choose to change the rules, but they must given their tenants 4 months written notice prior to the anniversary of the date of the lease. This gives the tenant enough time to allow the landlord to receive proper notice that the lease will not be renewed if the tenant has any serious issues with the change in rules.

To summarize, the landlord, if they satisfy the above-mentioned criteria, can restrict pets.

Can a landlord include a no-smoking clause in the lease?

Yes.

If there is a no pets and no smoking clause written in the lease and the landlord finds out that the tenant has a pet and/or is smoking in the unit, can the landlord legally evict the tenant?

If there is a no pets or no smoking clause included in the written rental agreement, the landlord has a legal right to terminate the tenant’s lease if they violate it in any of these ways.



Contact Information

For general information about renting in Nova Scotia contact:

Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations — Residential Tenancies
300 Horseshoe Lake Drive
Bayers Lake Business Park
Halifax, NS
B3S 0B7
Toll-free within Nova Scotia: 1-800-670-4357
Email: askus@gov.ns.ca
https://www.gov.ns.ca/snsmr/secure/contact/Default.asp?bhcp=1

Public Inquiries at Access Nova Scotia Centres:
http://www.gov.ns.ca/snsmr/offices.asp

Department of Community Services — Housing and Repairs
http://www.gov.ns.ca/coms/housing/



Rental Guides by Topic

Tenant’s Guide to Residential Tenancies
http://www.gov.ns.ca/snsmr/access/land/residential-tenancies/tenants.asp

Exploring Your Options for Resolving Disputes
http://www.gov.ns.ca/snsmr/pdf/ans-residential-tenancies-exploring-options-resolving-disputes.pdf

Mediation and Hearings
http://www.gov.ns.ca/snsmr/pdf/ans-residential-tenancies-mediation-hearings.pdf

After the Hearing — What Now?
http://www.gov.ns.ca/snsmr/pdf/ans-residential-tenancies-after-hearing.pdf

Manufactured Home and Land Lease Communities
http://www.gov.ns.ca/snsmr/access/land/residential-tenancies/landlord/manufactured-and-land-lease.asp



Acts and Statues

Residential Tenancies Act
http://nslegislature.ca/legc/statutes/residential%20tenancies.pdf
(See provincial contact, above.)

Residential Tenancies Regulations
http://www.gov.ns.ca/just/regulations/regs/rtgenrl.htm
(See provincial contact, above.)

Residential Tenancy Branch
http://www.gov.ns.ca/snsmr/access/land/residential-tenancies.asp

Human Rights Commission
This Web site provides an overview of the commission, the complaint process and a variety of information related to the commission.
http://www.gov.ns.ca/humanrights/

Department of Community Services
The information provided is brief, but the list of programs and services available is quite useful.
http://www.novascotia.ca/coms/index.html

Department of Seniors
Provides a number of services to seniors in the province including housing assistance.
http://www.gov.ns.ca/seniors/