If you’re moving out of your family home for the first time or are moving from another country, it’s important to be up-to-speed about the rental laws in the province you plan on living in. And if you’re planning to rent in Nova Scotia, make sure you get familiar with your obligations as a tenant.
Responsibilities Of A Tenant In Nova Scotia
As a renter in Nova Scotia, you have rights. But you also have responsibilities that you must adhere to, including the following:
- Pay your rent on time and in full by the due date
- Do not disturb other tenants in the complex
- Take care of the unit and the complex it’s in
- Make repairs to any damages caused by you or guests
- Move out when the lease agreement ends (unless renewed)
What Should Be Included In A Rental Lease?
Landlords can use the standard lease contract that’s available for rental properties in Nova Scotia, which includes a variety of information, including the following.
- Parties to the agreement, including the names of both the landlord and the tenant(s)
- Names of all occupants who will be living in the property, including children
- Details of the rental property and the tenant’s current address
- Contact information of the tenant, emergency contact, landlord, property manager, or superintendent
- Lease type, such as year-to-year, month-to-month, and so forth
- Rent amount, how often it must be paid, and how it should be paid
- Utilities and appliances included
- Tenant’s and landlord’s responsibilities in terms of lawn care, snow removal, garbage removal, and so forth
- Restrictions, such as a no-pet or no-smoking clause
- Whether or not a security deposit is required, and if so, the amount
- Signatures of both the landlord and tenant
It’s important that all leases are comprehensive and include all clauses and important information so there is no confusion as to what is required of both the landlord and the tenant.
Security Deposits In Nova Scotia
In Nova Scotia, landlords are allowed to request a security deposit at the beginning of a tenancy. However, landlords are not permitted to require more than one-half of the first month’s rent as a security deposit. For instance, if your rent is $1,200 per month, the security deposit amount cannot be any more than $600.
It’s important to understand that a security deposit is not the same as last month’s rent. Your landlord is not allowed to require the last month’s rent at the beginning of the tenancy. The only money that your landlord can require is the rent and the security deposit, and nothing else.
Security deposits must be placed in a trust account on behalf of the tenant. When the tenant moves out, the security deposit must be paid back with no interest.
However, in some cases, the landlord may keep all or part of the security deposit to cover the cost of things like keys not returned or damage caused by pets. To do this, they must apply to a Residential Tenancies Office first within 10 business days after the tenancy ends. If not, then the security deposit must be returned to the tenant.
Rent Increase Limits In Nova Scotia
Landlords are allowed to increase the rent amount but must follow certain rules to do so legally. For starters, details about when the rent will increase and by how much must be included in the original lease agreement for fixed-term lease arrangements.
The landlord is not required to provide any notice of the rental increase because this information has already been communicated to the tenant in the lease. For instance, if you sign a 3-year fixed-term lease, it could state that you’ll pay $1,200 per month for the first 12 months, then $1,300 the next 12 months, and then $1,400 the following 12 months.
In Nova Scotia, there are no restrictions in terms of how much a landlord can increase the rent.
How To Terminate A Lease Early In Nova Scotia
In a fixed-term lease, the tenant is obligated to continue paying rent until the lease expires, with certain exceptions.
Here are the scenarios in which a lease can be terminated:
Before a lease can be terminated, both the landlord and tenant have a responsibility to negotiate the lease terms or choose to end the lease completely, mutually.
Once the term expires, the landlord does not have any obligations to the tenant any longer. If the tenant decides to continue renting, a month-to-month lease will take effect. If the lease is renewed, all other conditions and terms of the original lease remain intact and in effect.
To end the lease lawfully, a certain amount of written notice must be provided to the landlord. The amount of notice depends on the type of lease, as follows:
- Year-to-year lease: 3 months notice
- Month-month lease: 1-month notice
- Week-to-week lease: 1-week notice
Nova Scotia legislation includes subletting rental properties. According to Nova Scotia law, landlords must approve the new tenant for sublets unless they have a valid reason to object. That said, all sublet requests must be put in writing before they are approved by the landlord.
As mentioned, certain exceptions exist. For instance, if the tenant is the victim of domestic violence, they can terminate the lease early by giving the landlord 1-month notice, and provide the landlord with a Certificate Confirming Grounds to Terminate Tenancy Due to Domestic Violence within 60 days after issuance of the certificate.
Eviction Rules In Nova Scotia
A landlord might want to evict a tenant for a number of reasons. But in Nova Scotia, landlords must go through a legal process before removing a tenant from a rental property.
There are several reasons why a tenant may be evicted, such as the following:
Rent In Arrears
If a tenant is 15 days late in paying their rent, the landlord can serve notice of eviction. More specifically, a landlord can issue a “Notice to Quit: Failure to Pay Rent” form once 15 days have passed after the rent was due. The tenant has 15 days to make their payment, otherwise, they may be at risk of eviction no earlier than 15 days after the form is issued.
Breach Of Tenancy Agreement
If certain terms of the lease agreement have been breached, the landlord may evict a tenant. Examples of lease contract breaches include non-compliance of tenant obligations, threats made to the landlord or other tenants, or smoking on the premises when the lease specifically prohibits it.
Landlord’s Personal Use Of The Property
A landlord may evict a tenant if they or one of their family members wants to move into the property themselves. Eviction, in this case, may happen if there is a periodic tenancy agreement in place.
Sale Of The Property
If the landlord wants to sell the rental property, a tenant may be evicted. The landlord must provide a minimum of 2 months’ notice to end the tenancy. If the tenancy has a fixed term, then the effective date cannot be any earlier than the date on the lease agreement.
A “Notice to Quit: Additional Circumstances” can be issued for other reasons besides failing to adhere to the lease agreement or failure to pay rent. This may include things such as:
- Damage to the property as a result of flood or fire
- Tenant poses a risk to the safety of the landlord or other tenants
- Tenant lost their job that involved a place to stay
- Tenants who are over 7 days late paying their rent when on a week-to-week tenancy
Nova Scotia Rental FAQs
Can a landlord say no to pets in Nova Scotia?
Can a landlord say no to overnight guests in Nova Scotia?
Can a landlord say no to smoking in Nova Scotia?
Do I need to do a condition inspection report in Nova Scotia?
When can my landlord enter my apartment?
Can I refuse to pay rent if my landlord refuses to repair something I requested?
What happens if a landlord refuses to make a repair?
Before you sign a lease agreement, make sure you get familiar with all the rights and responsibilities you have as a tenant in Nova Scotia. Understanding all the rules about renting in the province will help ensure that you avoid getting into trouble while also ensuring that your landlord treats you and your rental agreement appropriately.