Tenants, landlords have new rights in N.S.
Published Friday, November 16, 2012 6:41PM AST
New legislation that changes the rights of tenants and landlords is now in effect in Nova Scotia.
Some of the amendments work in favour of residents, but some say overall the Tenancies Act still favours landlords, rather than tenants.
Dylan Hayward has been renting for a total of eight years and has spent the past four months in a Halifax apartment.
“Got a great landlord. Really lucky,” says Hayward. “Not everyone in Nova Scotia has a great landlord though.”
The Nova Scotia government says new changes now in effect will protect both tenants and landlords.
The first significant change is that renters will now have automatic tenure, which means a landlord has to provide a reason to evict a resident, and there has to be a hearing.
“Landlords aren’t in the business of putting good tenants out,” says Michael Kabalen of the Investment Property Owners Association of Nova Scotia.
“You’re going to be a little more particular when you’re looking at an application.”
However, that’s exactly what the executive director of Adsum House – an emergency shelter for women and children - is worried about.
“Sometimes we work with women and families who don’t have a great rental history, may have no rental history, and a perspective landlord says ‘hmm, maybe better not rent to that person at all,” says Sheri Lecker.
In New Brunswick, the language is a little different, but the Tenancies Act operates in much the same way as Nova Scotia’s did before the new changes.
New Brunswick tenants don’t get tenure until they’ve been living in an apartment for five years. They are then considered a long-term tenant and are afforded more rights.
Under another significant change to the act in Nova Scotia, a landlord can now serve a notice of eviction 15 days after the rent is due, instead of 30 days.
Hayward, a law student working with Dalhousie Legal Aid, says there are some good points to the new Tenancies Act, but says the changes don’t go far enough.
“I think in Nova Scotia the RTA favours landlords, and accordingly, the legislature should be moving in a direction that protects tenants’ rights in a more fundamental way,” he says.
The Nova Scotia Landlords Association says it would like to see more done in relation to what a tenant is allowed to leave behind when an apartment is vacated.
One tenant mentioned he would like to see a penalty that would require landlords who don’t pay a damage deposit on time to pay double the amount.
With files from CTV Atlantic's Kayla Hounsell