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Renters say fixed-term leases erode stock of affordable apartments amid housing crisis

Statistics Canada data shows rapid loss of rental units priced under $1,000

Keely Corrigan happily paid $754 a month for the last five years to rent a modest apartment in Dartmouth’s north end, but that’s a price range that’s rapidly disappearing.

Corrigan was the last tenant to leave the nine-unit building in mid-February after renters were told months earlier that their fixed-term leases would not be renewed by the building’s new owners and they would have to find somewhere else to live. Renovations started on the building as Corrigan moved out.

“I was so worried and stressed because we are in a housing crisis,” she said in a recent interview. “I don’t make tons of money. So I just thought, ‘If this happens then I might literally be on the street. I may have nowhere to live.'”

Although the province has a temporary five per cent rent cap for existing tenants, fixed-term leases allow landlords to force tenants out and steeply increase prices for new tenants who aren’t covered by the rent cap.

According to Nova Scotia’s Residential Tenancies Act, a fixed-term lease is a lease entered into for a fixed period of time, with a set end date. This means it doesn’t automatically renew every year and landlords can refuse to renew for an existing tenant. …[Continue Reading]