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Fixed-term leases: N.S. Tories won’t fix loophole landlords use to evict at will

A fixed-term lease

Corbin signed a fixed-term lease. That type of lease is defined under the Nova Scotia Residential Tenancies Act as a lease “entered into for a fixed period of time, which includes the day of commencement and the day of termination stated in the lease.” What they actually do is provide a simple and obvious way for a landlord to get around the province’s rent cap, say housing advocates.

“It’s a glaring loophole that undermines that value of rent control and security of tenure,” says Mark Culligan, a community legal worker with Dalhousie Legal Aid Service.

Throughout the housing crisis, housing advocates have been urging the province to close the loophole, with no success. Those groups include the Nova Scotia Action Coalition for Community Well-Being, ACORN and Students Nova Scotia.

The New Democratic Party introduced a bill that would have banned landlords from hiking rent above the two-per-cent rent cap after a fixed-term lease ends. That was dismissed by the Tory majority. Meanwhile, the province isn’t tracking the number people on fixed-term leases. We asked for whatever data it has but a spokesperson for Service Nova Scotia said the tenancies program only has information “based on cases that apply to the program.”

Dalhousie Legal Aid has lobbied the government to follow British Columbia’s lead. In that province, the landlord is required to reoffer the unit to a tenant once a fixed-term lease is up. The only way the landlord can kick the tenant out is if they move in themselves. …[Continue Reading]