The Nova Scotia Residential Tenancies Act can be a pretty intimidating document for a student to try and understand; with much more legal jargon than a lease! Nonetheless, the Nova Scotia RTA is a document that every student renter should have a basic understanding of. Here is a translation of some key sections of the RTA and how they apply to student renters in Nova Scotia.
Please note that we are not legal professionals at Places4Students.com and cannot provide legal advice. The following information is a basic overview and interpretation of the RTA, highlighting some important sections that relate to student renters.
1. If a tenant is renting accommodations, but has not signed or been issued a formal lease agreement, does the act still apply?
Yes. Even if a formal contact was not composed and signed by the landlord and tenant(s), the laws, rights and responsibilities still apply to each party.
3 (1) Notwithstanding any agreement, declaration, waiver or statement to the contrary, this Act applies when the relation of landlord and tenant exists between a person and an individual in respect of residential premises.
(2) For the purposes of subsection (1), the relation of landlord and tenant is deemed to exist in respect of residential premises between an individual and a person when an individual
(a) possesses or occupies residential premises and has paid or agreed to pay rent to the person;
(b) makes an agreement with the person by which the individual is granted the right to possess or occupy residential premises in consideration of the payment of or promise to pay rent;
(c) has possessed or occupied residential premises and has paid or agreed to pay rent to the person. R.S., c. 401, s. 3.
2. Are tenants allowed to sublet their rental unit?
A tenant may submit a request to sublet and the landlord must not arbitrarily or unreasonably deny the request. The landlord may not charge additional funds to sublet, unless the landlord has incurred expenses by granting permission to sublet.
9 (5) Subletting Premises - The tenant may assign, sublet or otherwise part with possession of the premises subject to the consent of the landlord which consent will not arbitrarily or unreasonably be withheld or charged for unless the landlord has actually incurred expense in respect of the grant of consent.
3. How much notice must a tenant provide to a landlord before terminating a tenancy (known as notice to quit)?
This will depend on the type of rental arrangement. For any residential lease that is rented from year to year, the tenant must provide at least 3 months of notice. For any residential lease that is rented from month to month, the tenant must provide at least 1 month of notice.
10 (1) Notwithstanding any agreement between the landlord and tenant respecting a period of notice, notice to quit residential premises shall be given
(a) where the residential premises are let from year to year, by the tenant at least three months before the expiration of any such year;
(b) where the residential premises are let from month to month,
(ii) by the tenant, at least one month
4. How much notice must a landlord provide before entering a rental unit?
Outside of emergencies, a landlord must provide at least 24 hours of notice in advance of entry. One exception is when a termination of the tenancy has already been issued and the landlord has to show the unit to a new prospective renter or purchaser at a reasonable time.
9 (1) (7) Entry of Premises - Except in the case of an emergency, the landlord shall not enter the premises without the consent of the tenant unless
(a) notice of termination of the tenancy has been given and the entry is at a reasonable hour for the purpose of exhibiting the premises to prospective tenants or purchasers; or
(b) the entry is during daylight hours and written notice of the time of the entry has been given to the tenant at least twenty-four hours in advance of the entry.
5. What is the maximum security deposit a landlord can request?
A landlord may set a security deposit that is not greater than the equivalent of half one-month’s rent.
12 (2) No landlord shall demand, accept or receive from a tenant as a security deposit a sum of money or other value that is in excess of one half of the rent per month that is or would be required to be paid for the residential premises
6. When does a landlord have to return the security deposit by?
Assuming the rental unit is returned in acceptable condition, minus normal wear and tear, the landlord must return the deposit within 10 days of the termination of the lease.
12 (5) Subject to subsection (6), the security deposit, together with interest, shall be returned to the tenant within ten days of the date of the termination of the lease.
7. How much can a landlord charge as a late rent penalty?
A landlord may charge a maximum of 1% per month of the monthly rent. This must be included in the lease agreement under a provision for penalties regarding late rent.
9 (1) (9) Late Payment Penalty - Where the lease contains provision for a monetary penalty for late payment of rent, the monetary penalty shall not exceed one per cent per month of the monthly rent.
8. Can a landlord ask for an application fee?
No. Application fees for rental accommodations are prohibited.
3 (6) (1) No person shall demand, accept or receive, from an individual who may, or applies to, become a tenant of that person, a sum of money or other value in consideration of or respecting the application by the individual to become a tenant of that person.
9. Can a landlord raise the rent mid-lease?
A landlord must provide tenants with at least 4 months of notice to raise the rent in a year-to-year or month-to-month tenancy agreement. The rent may only be raised once during the course of a 12 month period.
11 (1) A landlord shall not increase the rent to a tenant for the twelve-month period following the commencement of a week-to-week, month-to-month, year-to-year or fixed-term lease. (2) Where a landlord intends to increase the rent payable after the first twelve-month period, the landlord shall give the tenant a notice in writing stating the amount and effective date of the increase in the case of
(a) a year-to-year lease, four months prior to the anniversary date;
(b) a month-to-month lease, four months prior to the anniversary date
and in no case shall a landlord increase the rent to the tenant more than once in a twelve-month period and without proper notice prior to the anniversary date in each subsequent year.
10. What types of rental properties are exempt from the Residential Tenancies Act?
The Residential Tenancies Act covers most residential premises but there are some notable exceptions, such as university of college institutions which would include on-campus housing.
2 (h) “residential premises” includes any house, dwelling, apartment, flat, tenement, manufactured home, land-lease community, manufactured home space or other place that is occupied or may be occupied by an individual as a residence or that part of any such place that is or may be occupied by an individual as a residence, but does not include
(i) a university, college or institution of learning, a public hospital, psychiatric hospital or maternity hospital, a municipal home, or a jail, prison or reformatory,
(ii) a maternity home that is licensed under the Children’s Services Act,
(iii) a nursing home to which the Homes for Special Care Act applies,
(iv) a hotel that is licensed under the Hotel Regulations Act, SEPTEMBER 16, 2013 R.S., c. 401 residential tenancies 3 SEPTEMBER 16, 2013 4 residential tenancies R.S., c. 401
(v) a residential care facility licensed under the Homes for Special Care Act, or
(vi) any other class of premises prescribed by regulation;
11. Is it true that my landlord has to provide me a copy of the Residential Tenancies Act?
Yes. According to Nova Scotia law, a landlord must provide tenant(s) with a copy of the Residential Tenancies Act without cost, typically within a period of 10 days from below.
7 (1) No landlord shall grant a lease or possession or occupancy of residential premises to a tenant unless the landlord has provided the tenant with a copy or reproduction of this Act without cost within ten days of the earliest of
(a) the date specified in the lease as the start of the tenancy;
(b) the date upon which the tenant signs the lease;
(c) the date upon which keys to the residential premises are delivered to the tenant by the landlord; and
(d) the date upon which the tenant takes possession of the residential premises or occupies those premises.
12. Can a landlord make rule changes mid-lease?
A landlord is required to provide tenant(s) with at least 4 months of notice to repeal or change a rule. The rule must be ‘reasonable’. A rule is considered reasonable if it adheres to the conditions below.
9A (1) copy of reasonable rules established by a landlord that apply to the residential premises shall be given to a tenant prior to executing a lease.
(2) Rules may be changed or repealed upon four months notice to the tenant prior to the anniversary date in any year.
(3) A rule is reasonable if
(a) it is intended to
(i) promote a fair distribution of services and facilities to the occupants of the residential premises,
(ii) promote the safety, comfort or welfare of persons working or residing in the residential premises, or
(iii) protect the landlord’s property from abuse;
(b) it is reasonably related to the purpose for which it is intended;
(c) it applies to all tenants in a fair manner; and
(d) it is clearly expressed so as to inform the tenant of what the tenant must or must not do to comply with the rule. 1993, c. 40, s. 7.
For a consolidated version of the Nova Scotia Residential Tenancies Act, please click here.
SEE ALSO: What Can My Landlord Evict Me For?