Government of Nova
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Access Nova Scotia
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During a Tenancy

  1. Rent
  2. Rent Increases
  3. Changing a Lease
  4. Assignments and Sublets
  5. Rights and Responsibilities


It is the tenant's responsibility to make sure rent is paid – you are not required to collect it.

You may charge one percent of the monthly rent, per month, for any late rent. The tenant may not withhold rent payments in order to encourage repairs or other action. (See "If There are Problems.")

If tenants are having trouble making rent, they may wish to negotiate with you. It is your decision whether to allow this.

If the tenant does not pay, once the rent is 15 days late, you may give the tenant a 15-day notice to quit by personal service or registered mail on or after day 16. The Notice to Quit (see "Downloadable Forms") gives the tenant three options:

  • to pay any rent owing within 15 days. The notice is then void.
  • to dispute the notice by filing an Application to Director.
  • to leave the unit.

In some cases the tenant may not use any of these options. In this case, you may come to an Access Centre and file a special Application to Director. You must bring a copy of the Notice to Quit. You must swear an affidavit that you served the notice personally or by registered mail and did not collect any rent after serving it. You may also file a regular Application to Director (Form J) and attend a Residential Tenancies Hearing to have the tenancy terminated.

If you use the special Application to Director, a residential tenancies officer will review the Notice to Quit and your application and, if all is in order, will write an Order of the Director giving you vacant possession of the unit, awarding any rent owing, and, if you request it, also awarding the security deposit.

This order cannot address any damages, as the tenant is still in residence. If you wish to claim for damages, or for rent after the month of the order, you must make a separate Application to Director.

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Rent Increases

Rent can only be increased once in a 12-month period, and can only be increased on the anniversary date of the tenancy, unless the tenancy is in a land-lease community or co-operative housing. Notice of a rent increase must be given in writing and must state the amount of the increase and the date the rent will go up.

You must give:

  • Four months' notice in a year-to-year lease
  • Four months' notice in a month-to-month lease
  • Eight weeks' notice in a week-to-week lease

The rent can be increased by any amount. For fixed-term leases, the amounts and dates of all increases must be included in the lease when it is signed. If tenants do not agree with a rent increase, they may give three months' notice to quit to you before the anniversary date, and leave.

If you plan to discontinue a service or privilege, it is considered to be a rent increase and you must give the proper period of notice depending on the terms of the tenancy.

There are different rules for Manufactured Homes and Land-Lease Communities (See Manufactured Homes), and for Public Housing.

In public housing, an increase in the percentage of income charged as rent is considered a rent increase and the landlord must give four months'notice prior to the anniversary date. However, the total amount paid in rent may increase or decrease with the tenant's income – this is not a rent increase.

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Changing a Lease

A tenant may choose to change a year-to-year lease to a month-to-month lease by giving you written notice to quit three months before to the anniversary date.

If a tenant wishes to change a year-to-year lease to a month-to-month lease, the tenant should attach a written request to the notice to quit to begin a month-to-month lease when the year-to-year lease has ended. You have 30 days to respond to this request. If you do not answer within the 30 days, the lease will automatically become month-to-month.

If there is a fixed term lease, you can only change the terms if you and your tenant make an agreement to do so. It is a good idea to get this agreement in writing.

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Assignments and Sublets

A sublet is when a tenant, with the permission of the landlord, finds someone else to take over the lease for a period of time. The original tenant remains a tenant of the landlord, and the new occupant becomes the tenant's tenant.  The original tenant is still responsible for the lease and for paying rent.

The tenant may also ask to leave and to assign any months remaining on the lease to a new person. The new person then becomes responsible for following the lease and paying rent until it has ended.

You must have a good reason to refuse to allow a sublet or assignment. You may charge a maximum of $75 to assess a sub-tenant or assignee.

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Rights and Responsibilities

Rules: You can make rules for your rental property. Rules cannot remove obligations of either the landlord or tenant under the Act or Standard Form of Lease. Rules must be reasonable, and apply equally to all tenants. It is best to ensure all rules are in writing. You should give tenants a copy of the rules before they sign the lease.

Maintenance:  You must keep your rental property fit for habitation. This includes making any repairs that are not due to the tenant's negligence.

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

Heat and Utilities: You may not turn off the heat to a unit, even if there is rent owing or another 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 70F° -- 72F° / 20C° -- 22C°.

You may not disconnect other utilities (electricity, water, cable) included in the lease.

Locks: Locks can only be changed if both you and your tenant agree. You are entitled to 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 may only enter the rented premises if:

  • There is an emergency.
  • You have given written notice that you will be entering the premises 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 premises 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 9:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.

If you are trying to sell or rent the premises, 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 and if no notice to quit has been given, you must give 24-hours' notice to the tenant. An "Open House" can only be held with the tenant's consent.

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