Nova Scotia announces temporary rent control and ban on ‘renovictions’
Newly formed Nova Scotia Affordable Housing Commission to present long-term recommendations within six months
November 26, 2020, 12:07 pm ASTLast Updated: November 26, 2020, 1:20 pm
The provincial government is implementing temporary rent control and putting a halt to renovation-related evictions.
The measures, ordered under the Emergency Management Act, were announced by Municipal Affairs and Housing Minister Chuck Porter on Wednesday. They include an annual two per cent limit to rent increases, retroactive to Sept. 1 (tenants will receive a credit) and a ban on situations where a landlord evicts a tenant to make renovations to a dwelling, referred to as “renovictions.” The measures are in place until Feb. 1, 2022, or until the state of emergency is over.
Activists have long advocated for rent control in Nova Scotia but the Liberal government has been resistant, dismissing the idea as recently as this month.
ACORN, an organization of low and moderate income families, released a statement that said the limit to rent increases is an “overdue first step” but that “temporary rent control is meaningless if landlords can continue to raise rents and drive tenants from their homes once the pandemic is over.”
The province is addressing that concern with the creation of a Nova Scotia Affordable Housing Commission. The commission is made up of appointed members from municipal and provincial government departments, non-profit groups, and property owners. According to a press release, the commission “will work with experts in the public, private, non-profit an academic sectors to make recommendations about affordable housing strategies and actions.” They will present recommendations to the minister in six months.
One of the commission members is Jim Graham, executive director of the non-profit Affordable Housing Association of Nova Scotia. He thinks that a temporary limit to rent increases is the right thing to do until there is “something else.”
“I guess the challenge will be what is that something else. And that will be the work of the commission, trying to sort out what the longer-term strategies will be,” Graham said.
When asked if rent control will continue in some form after the pandemic the minister pointed to the commission.
“This is why we formed the commission and it makes up people from all sectors. And we will hear from everyone. Everyone will have the opportunity through that commission to offer their input. I can’t speak to whether or not. I won’t speculate,” he said.
Nova Scotia has been under a state of emergency since March. 22, 2020, and if that changes before Feb. 1, 2022, the province will “reassess” the measures. The minister does not expect that there will be any change for the next few months, at least.
The minister also announced $1.7 million towards replacing 30 beds that were removed from shelters because of physical distancing requirements. More details about where those beds will be located are coming soon.
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