Rights And Responsibilities Of A Tenant In Nova Scotia

Rights And Responsibilities Of A Tenant In Nova Scotia

Written by Lisa Rennie
Fact-checked by Caitlin Wood
Last Updated October 5, 2021

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. 

Find out if your rent payments can help you build credit.

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:

Mutual Agreement 

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

Sublets

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. 

Domestic Abuse

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. 

Find out how tenant insurance works.

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. 

Additional Situations

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?

Nova Scotia allows landlords to implement their own rules surrounding pets on their own property through Section 9A of the Residential Tenancies Act.  The landlord must provide a copy of the rules to the tenant before a lease is signed. If the landlord decides to change the rules, they must provide their tenants with written notice at least 4 months before the anniversary of the lease date. Even if there is a no-pets clause in the rental agreement, the landlord may still legally terminate the tenant’s lease if it is discovered that the tenant does have a pet, and therefore has violated the lease agreement. Simply put, landlords can say “no” to pets.

Can a landlord say no to overnight guests in Nova Scotia?

A landlord cannot legally prevent tenants from having overnight guests on the rental property. Tenants have the right to choose who they invite to stay. That said, tenants are responsible for any disturbances or damages caused to the property by any overnight guests. 

Can a landlord say no to smoking in Nova Scotia?

As is the case with the restriction of pets, landlords in Nova Scotia are legally allowed to restrict smoking on the premises thanks to Section 9A of the Residential Tenancies Act.  This section essentially allows landlords to put their own rules in place to ensure that all tenants living in the property are safe and comfortable, as well as to protect the landlord’s property. In terms of smoking, landlords can include a no-smoking clause in a lease to prevent tenants from smoking on the premises. Again, the landlord must provide the tenant with a written copy of these rules so they are fully understood. If there is a no-smoking clause in the rental agreement, the landlord can legally terminate the tenant’s lease if the rules are violated.

Do I need to do a condition inspection report in Nova Scotia?

No, there is no requirement for a written inspection report to be done in order to rent in Nova Scotia. But tenants are encouraged to complete a Rental Unit Condition Report with their landlord before moving into the property and when moving out. This report details the condition of the property as evidence that the tenant did not cause any damage while living there. 

When can my landlord enter my apartment? 

Tenants should be able to enjoy their property without their landlords entering the property without notice. In Nova Scotia, landlords must provide tenants with at least 24 hours’ written notice before entering the premises. Landlords can only enter the property between 9am to 9pm, unless the tenant agrees otherwise. Landlords can also enter a rental property if there is an emergency. 

Can I refuse to pay rent if my landlord refuses to repair something I requested? 

No, tenants are not allowed to withhold rent because the landlord does not perform a repair.

What happens if a landlord refuses to make a repair? 

If a landlord refuses to make any necessary repairs, tenants may file a complaint with Residential Tenancies to either receive an Order for the landlord to make the repairs, or to request a rental abatement, which involves a landlord paying a tenant for the inconvenience and costs of the repairs. 

Final Thoughts

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.


Rating of 5/5 based on 1 vote.

Lisa has been working as a writer for more than a decade, creating unique content that helps to educate Canadian consumers in the realms of real estate, mortgages, investing and financial health. For years, she held her real estate license in Toronto, Ontario before giving it up to pursue writing within this realm and related niches. Lisa is very serious about smart money management and helping others do the same. She's used a variety of financial tools over the years and is currently growing her money with Wealthsimple, while stashing some capital in a liquid high-interest savings account so that she always has a financial cushion to fall back on. She's also been avidly using her Aeroplan TD credit card to collect as many Aeroplan points as possible to put towards her travels!

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