Tenant rights and landlord rights in nunavut

Governing or Regulatory Body

Department of Justice is responsible for the Residential Tenancies Act

Nunavut Housing Corporation is responsible for public and government staff housing on behalf of the Government of Nunavut

Name of Act / Regulations

  • Residential Tenancies Act

Types of Housing/Living Arrangements Covered by the Provincial Legislation

Properties that are rented for residential living purposes: houses, mobile homes, apartments and rooms located in boarding or lodging houses.

Exclusions: Hotels, motels, homes for tourism, hostels and temporary shelters; co-op housing (unless the renter is not a co-op member); living quarters attached to a rented commercial space and rented to the tenant under a single tenancy agreement covering the commercial space and personal living quarters; living accommodation occupied by a person for a correctional, penal, therapeutic, or rehabilitative purpose or for receiving treatment of some kind.

Special Rules Apply to Certain Premises:

  • Caretakers’ residence
  • Property rented to tenant as employee benefit
  • Subsidized housing units—operating under the Nunavut Housing Corporation AND ITS Local Housing Organizations (LHO)
  • Properties provided by a school to a tenant who is enrolled or part of the faculty
  • Properties with a bathroom or kitchen facilities that are shared by the landlord and tenant
  • Properties that are the only personal dwelling of the landlord in Nunavut

Types of Rental Periods

Periodic (week-to-week or month-to-month) leases are permitted, as well as fixed term (tenancy ends on a specified date).

Is a signed lease required?

No. A lease agreement can be written, verbal or even implied. A written tenancy agreement is ideal, but it is not required by law. A majority of landlords use written rental agreements.

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

Yes, but only in the event that the landlord requests a security deposit from the tenant. When a security deposit is requested, the landlord and tenant sign an inspection report at the beginning of the tenancy together.

Deposits

A deposit cannot exceed the amount of one month’s rent, unless the property is being rented on a week-to-week basis, in which case the total amount cannot exceed the total for one week’s rent. Landlords that rent out subsidized housing may use the true market value of the rent when calculating the security deposit.

NOTE:

If the tenancy is for more than a week-to-week period, the tenant may pay half the security deposit when moving in and the rest within a period of three months but not more. The landlord is required to return the security deposit to the tenant with interest, within a period of ten days after the tenant leaves the rental property. The rate on security deposit interest is calculated at a rate equal to that of the chartered bank deposit rate on deposit receipts for 30 days, as determined and published by the Bank of Canada in the Bank of Canada Review. This interest rate starts to take effect on the first day of January in the year that the interest beings to accumulate. Landlords are legally obligated to give the tenant an itemized statement of their account for any part of the deposit they wish to keep.

A landlord is able to retain all or part of the deposit collected from the tenant for rent arrears as well as paying for damage to the property.

Key Money

It is illegal for a landlord to require a tenant to pay key money. Any other type of deposit other than a security deposit is completely prohibited.

Post-dated Cheques

Landlords have the right to request post-dated cheques, but tenants are not obligated to comply with the request.

Renewal of a Lease

When a tenancy agreement comes to an end on a specific date, and if a new year-to-year tenancy agreement or notice to terminate was not provided to either party, the landlord and tenant must renew the tenancy agreement on the date specified in the lease as a month-to-month tenancy.

Exceptions: The Residential Tenancy Act does not apply to Nunavut Housing Corporation Subsidized Public Housing and Staff Housing lease renewals, sublets and assignments, or increases in rent. To live in public housing, tenants must still be eligible for such benefits and for staff housing, tenants must remain employed by the owner of the rental unit.

A term tenancy agreement is automatically renewed on the expiration date as a month-to-month tenancy unless:

  • A landlord and tenant have entered into a new rental agreement or
  • The tenancy agreement has been terminated in accordance with the Act, or
  • The residential complex is composed of a single rental property which was the only personal dwelling of the landlord in Nunavut.

Terminating a Tenancy (Lease): Notice and Timing

Before the lease can be terminated, it is the responsibility of both the tenant and landlord to re-negotiate the terms or terminate the lease altogether. Landlords can only terminate a tenancy for specific reasons as laid out by the legislation and cannot terminate simply because the fixed term lease has expired. When a fixed term type tenancy turns into a month-to-month term, the landlord is not able to force a tenant to sign another lease or agree to another fixed term agreement. When a lease is renewed, unless another arrangement is agreed upon, other than the new term of the lease, all of the other conditions in it remain the same.

A notice of termination from the landlord or tenant has to follow these requirements:

  1. The notice has to be put in writing and signed by landlord or tenant (whoever gives the notice)
  2. The notice has to identify the rental property specifically
  3. The notice has to state the date when the tenancy is set to end
  4. The notice must state the specific reason for the termination

If the notice does not follow all of the above listed requirements, or it is not served in the proper way, it is completely invalid and the tenancy stands.

In addition, a landlord can end a periodic tenancy in the event that:

  • By a written agreement reached by landlord and tenant
  • In limited circumstances, by notice given by the landlord
  • By notice given by the tenant
  • By a legal order
  • Where the property is rented to an employee as a benefit of their job, by lawful termination of the tenant’s employment
  • By abandonment of the property by the tenant

Termination of a fixed-term agreement by a tenant must be done no later than 30 days before the end of the term. With regards to a periodic tenancy agreement (one that does not specify a termination date), the following cases can be applied:

  • Weekly tenancy: Seven days before termination date given in notice
  • Monthly tenancy continued for less than 12 months: a minimum of 30 days before the termination date given in the notice.
  • Monthly tenancy that has continued for more than 12 months: at least 60 days prior notification before the terminate date in the notification

Assignments and Sublets

Tenants are able to sublet their rental property if the landlord approves. If the landlord refuses to give consent for the sublet, the tenant can appeal to the Rental Officer and may obtain permission to sublet the unit to someone else. When tenants sublet the unit they are renting, they are still responsible for payment of rent and any violations of the lease agreement committed by the sub-tenant. For assignments, tenants have to get the approval of the landlord but cannot appeal to the Rental Officer. When a tenancy is assigned, the former tenant transfer all of their rights and duties to the new tenant.

A landlord cannot change the terms of the sub-lease but can charge up to $50.00 for expenses incurred as a result of granting consent for a sublease or assignment. If the landlord consents to the assignment or sublease, it must be put in writing.

All agreements must be signed by the tenant and sub-tenant and attached to a copy of the lease. Tenants that are renting Public Housing and Staff Housing units are not allowed to sublet or assign their units.

Rent Increases: Notice and Timing

A landlord cannot legally increase the rent for a rental property more than once every 12 months. The landlord has to be given a minimum of three months written notice of the increase. On the day before the increase is set to go into effect, a tenant who receives a proper notice of a rent increase may treat the notice as a termination of the lease agreement. Tenants that wish to terminate the agreement have to inform the landlord in writing, notifying them of their decision to move. The landlord may rent the premises to others, but they are required to keep the rent for the new tenant at the same level stated in the notice. The Nunavut Housing Corporation is the exception to this rule, as notification of a rent increase is not needed for Public Housing Units.

Late Rent Payments

A tenant who pays his or her rent later than the date that is specified in the lease agreement faces financial penalties. The penalty is calculated for each individual day that the rent is late by multiplying the rent due by the chartered bank deposit rate on deposit receipts for 30 days, as determined and published by the Bank of Canada, going into effect on the first day of January in the year that the late payment is calculated and dividing by 365.

Evictions

If the tenant refuses to leave after being properly served a termination notice or an order to vacate, the landlord is required to obtain an eviction order from the Rental Officer and register with the Nunavut Supreme Court. Applications for eviction order are required to be served to the other party at least five days prior to the date that the hearing is scheduled for. Both parties involved should have a lawyer present at the hearing. If an eviction order is granted, a “writ of possession” from the Supreme Court Clerk is also required. The landlord delivers the Order of Eviction as well as the Writ to the Sheriff’s office. The sheriff must make a reasonable demand to enter the rental property of the tenant being evicted. If the tenant refuses to comply with the sheriff, the sheriff has the right to forcibly enter the premises. Resisting the sheriff in this case could result in criminal charges being filed.

Fine Points

Landlord Entry

Landlords have the right to enter the rental premises between the hours of 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. A landlord must give the tenant written notice of their intent to enter the property 24 hours before the time of entry, detailing in the notice the time they will be entering and the purpose for it.

A tenant has the right to specify alternative days and hours that are more convenient for them under the circumstances.

A landlord has the right to enter the premises to:

  • Perform any of their obligations under the Act and lease agreement,
  • Inspect the rental property if the tenant has requested consent to do an assignment or subletting agreement
  • Show the rental property prospective renters
  • Show the property to prospective buyers
  • Inspect the rental property every six months
  • Permit a mortgagee or an insurer to inspect property where a mortgage or insurance coverage is being set up.
  • Inspect the rental property on the day the tenant moves.

A landlord has the right to enter the tenant’s rental unit without giving notice when:

  • There is an emergency
  • The tenant agrees to the entry
  • The landlord has a valid reason to believe the tenant is no longer living there (abandonment)

May the tenant withhold rent for repairs?

No. The tenant is required to file an application to forward the rent to the Rental Officer, who will hold it until the dispute is resolved.

Changing Locks

Locks to a rental property can only be changed when both parties (landlord and tenant) agree to it. A landlord and tenant cannot change the locks on any entrance to the residential area of the complex in an effort to inhibit or interfere with the other’s access to the complex.

Pets and Smoking

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

With regards to public housing units, landlords cannot refuse to rent a unit to a tenant who is bringing a pet with them. For private rentals, however, a landlord can refuse to rent to a tenant with pets. If pets are allowed in the lease agreement, or if the lease does not address the issue, pets are permitted in the unit.

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?

Yes, but only if a no smoking/no pets clause is present in the rental agreement. The Rental Officer who reviews the termination of the tenancy would try to determine if evicting the tenant is reasonable; as long as it was potentially interfering with the other tenants right to ‘quiet enjoyment’, the eviction will be upheld.

Other

Nunavut’s Residential Tenancy Act is based on the Northwest Territories’ Act, which went into effect on February 6, 1988. In an effort to encourage out-of-court settlements, the Rental Officer is granted numerous powers previous held only by the courts. The role of the Rental Officer is to provide information, meditation and act as a judge as circumstances require. In cases where both parties cannot reach an agreement, even after meditation, the Rental Officer must intervene and hold a hearing. At these hearings, the Rental Officer takes on the role of a judge. An order of the Rental Officer can be enforced in the courts.

Contact Information

For general information about renting in Nunavut contact:

Nunavut Housing Corporation

Nunavut Housing Corporation
2nd Floor Bldg 1553 Federal Road
P.O. Box 1000, Station 1400
Iqaluit, Nunavut
X0A 0H0
Tel: 867-975-7200
Fax: 867-979-4194
http://www.nunavuthousing.ca

For information in regards to the Residential Tenancies Act contact:
Residential Tenancies Office (Rental Officer)

Residential Tenancies Office
Department of Justice
Government of Nunavut
P.O. Box 1000 Station 590
Nunavut, X0A 0H0

Rentals Officer
Tel: 867-975-6100
Fax: 867-975-6168
Email: rentaloffice@gov.nu.ca

Consolidation of the Residential Tenancies Act (Nunavut)
http://www.canlii.org/en/nu/laws/stat/rsnwt-nu-1988-c-r-5/latest/part-1/rsnwt-nu-1988-c-r-5-part-1.pdf

Government of Nunavut Communications
P.O. Box 1000 Station 200
Iqaluit, Nunavut
X0A 0H0
Tel.: 867-975-6000
Fax: 867-975-6099
Toll-free: 1-877-212-6438 (in North America)
http://www.gov.nu.ca

Application forms for Public Housing are available from the Local Housing Organizations in each community.