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What renters and landlords should know about Nova Scotia’s updated tenancy rules

Changes came into effect Feb. 3 following legislation passed in November 2021

2 min read
A large apartment building with a black, white, and grey exterior is surrounded by cars and pedestrians. There are clear skies and it is a sunny day.
caption Quinpool Tower is a large apartment building on Quingate place in Halifax.
Andrew Lam

The province detailed new rules for renters and landlords in Nova Scotia which came into effect Feb. 3. 

Here’s what you need to know:

1) Landlords can now raise rent at any time with conditions

Rent can’t be increased more than once a year and landlords must continue to provide four months’ written notice to the tenant. The province’s two per cent rent cap, which expires Dec. 31, continues to apply to existing tenants, meaning those who stay in their current rental.

Tenants with year-to-year leases may use Form C1 to end a lease early if their landlord raises rent before the lease anniversary date.

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Investment Property Owners Association of Nova Scotia executive director Kevin Russell said this change will benefit landlords who only raise rents as needed.

“That would help in situations where costs suddenly spike like we’ve seen recently,” Russell said, adding landlords could up the rent “to cover the increase in operating costs.”

2) Landlords must provide 24 hours’ written notice before entering a unit

This rule now applies even if the tenant has given notice to end the lease. The only exception is if there is an emergency.

Generally, an emergency is understood to be something that could impact the property, such as fire or flooding, according to Joanne Hussey, a community legal worker with the Dalhousie Legal Aid Service

She said prior to this change it was unclear whether landlords were required to provide 24 hours’ notice to existing tenants before showing a property to prospective tenants. 

3) Landlords can now end a lease meaning evict if a tenant sublets the unit without consent

This change stands out because of a growing problem of tenants subletting without permission, Russell said. 

A landlord can’t unreasonably charge or withhold permission from a tenant who is seeking to sublet, according to the Residential Tenancies Act. 

Hussey said it’s “a pretty big change” and this is her main concern.

“It seems like a fairly simple thing that could be corrected,” Hussey said. “It’s not like someone who has caused a lot of damage to a unit or someone who has refused to pay their rent for months and months.”

4) Landlords can’t charge different amounts for different lease types

According to the legislation which led to these updates, a tenant can change from a year-to-year lease to a month-to-month lease if they provide written notice to their landlord at least three months before the lease anniversary.

In this case, the legislation states “the landlord shall not charge a rent amount that is more than the rent amount that would be payable by the tenant for the year-to-year lease.”

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Andrew Lam

Andrew Lam (they/she) is a Chinese and trans journalist interested in labour, LGBTQIA+, and political stories. They hope to leverage their data...

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