During a tenancy: rights and responsibilities of landlords

Landlords have certain rights and responsibilities during a tenancy (lease). You can charge interest on late rent. You can give tenants notice to quit if they are 15 days late paying rent. You can increase the rent once in a 12-month period. You cannot unreasonably deny tenants from subletting their unit or allowing others to take over the lease.

During a tenancy, a landlord has certain rights and responsibilities. These guidelines include information on rent, rent increases, changing a lease, subletting and letting someone take over the lease.

Rent

Tenants have to pay their rent on time. It is not your responsibility to collect it.

You can charge 1% of the monthly rent per month for any late rent. Tenants can’t withhold rent to encourage you to make repairs or to take other action.

Once the rent is 15 days late, you can give the tenant Form D: Landlord’s Notice to Quit for Rental Arrears.

If the tenant still doesn’t pay the rent or move out, you can come to an Access Nova Scotia location and file a Form K: Application to Director - Rental Arrears or a Form J: Application to Director.

Rent increases

You can only increase the rent once in a 12-month period, on the anniversary date of the tenancy (lease), except for land-lease communities (mobile parks) and public housing.

You need to give notice of a rent increase to your tenant in writing. It needs to state the amount of the increase and the date the rent will go up.

You need to give tenants:

  • 4 months’ notice for year-to-year leases
  • 4 months’ notice for month-to-month leases
  • 8 weeks’ notice for week-to-week leases

For fixed-term leases, you need to include the amounts and dates of all rent in the lease when it is signed.

You can increase the rent by any amount. If the tenant doesn’t agree with the rent increase, they can give you 3 months' Notice to Quit before the anniversary date and leave.

If you discontinue a service or privilege, it’s considered a rent increase and you need to give the same notice as for a rent increase.

There are different rules for manufactured (mobile) homes in land-lease communities (mobile parks) and public housing.

In public housing, if you increase the percentage of income charged as rent, it is considered a rent increase. You need to give 4 months’ notice before the anniversary date of the tenancy.

If the tenant’s income increases or decreases, their rent will also increase or decrease. This is not considered a rent increase.

Change the terms of the lease

Tenants can choose to change a year-to-year lease to a month-to-month lease once they’re living in the unit. To change the type of lease, the tenant needs to give you written notice to quit 3 months before the anniversary date. The tenant needs to include a written request to begin a month-to-month lease when the year-to-year lease has ended.

You then have 30 days to respond to the tenant’s request. If you don’t answer within the 30 days, the lease will automatically go month-to-month.

If the lease is a fixed-term lease, the tenant can only change the terms if you agree to do so.

Subletter or someone taking over the lease

If a tenant is planning to leave for a period of time and then return, they can choose to sublet the unit to someone else. The original tenant is still your tenant, and the new occupant becomes the tenant's tenant. The original tenant is still responsible for the lease and paying the rent. You need a good reason not to let the tenant sublet. You can charge $75 to evaluate a subletter.

If a tenant doesn’t want to continue with the lease, they can ask you for permission to assign any months remaining on the lease to a new person. The new person is then responsible for the lease and paying rent until the lease ends.

You need to give your tenant permission to sublet the unit or have someone else take over the lease, but you have the right to refuse a prospective tenant from subletting or having a lease assigned to them (for example, if the prospective tenant has no references or a bad credit rating).

Rules

You can make rules for your rental property. Rules can’t remove responsibilities of either the landlord or tenant under the Residential Tenancies Act or Standard Form of Lease. Rules need to be reasonable, and apply equally to all tenants. You must give tenants a written copy of the rules before they sign the lease.

Maintenance

You need to keep the rental property fit for living in. This includes making any repairs that are not because of the tenant's negligence.

Tenants need to keep the rental unit and all the appliances clean. Tenants are responsible for any repairs that need to be made due to neglect or damage done by themselves or their guests. You must not interfere with tenants' ability to safely occupy the premises.

Heat and utilities

You can’t turn off the heat to a unit, even if the tenant owes rent or there is a dispute. If the tenant is responsible for heating the unit, it must be kept warm enough to prevent damage. The temperature in the premises should be between 20C° to 22C°. You aren’t allowed to disconnect other utilities, like electricity, water or cable that are included in the lease.

Locks

Locks can only be changed if both you and your tenant agree. You are allowed to have a key to any unit on your property.

Insurance

The tenant is responsible for insuring personal belongings. You may request a copy of the policy as a condition of your lease.

Landlord access

You can only enter the rental unit if:

  • there is an emergency
  • you have given written notice that you will be entering the unit and the entry is during daylight hours
  • you or the tenant has given a Notice to Quit and entry is made during daylight hours to show the unit to prospective tenants or purchasers

A notice to enter should state the time and date you plan to enter the unit and be signed by you or your representative. Daylight hours are from 9 am to 9 pm.

If you’re trying to sell or rent the unit, a real estate agent must be allowed to enter. The agent may be required to provide proof of authorization from you. The agent is to enter only during daylight hours. If no Notice to Quit has been given, you need to give the tenant 24 hours' notice. You can only hold an "Open House" with the tenant's consent.