- Pushya Chokshi
Student Rental Guide 101
Housing is a major concerns that students have. Here are some tips to make your life easier next time you are looking for accommodation. Many students are often un-aware of the laws regarding leasing. Some students, especially those who are new to the area and are in a hurry to find a house end up making mistakes which could unexpectedly cost them in the future.
This article focuses on the laws regarding renting taken from the Residential Tenancy Guide of Nova Scotia. The first thing suggested by the Rental Guide of Nova Scotia is to inspect the premises that you are looking to rent. If you are not able to look at it in-person, try and make sure someone you know inspects it. If this is not possible, you can even arrange a video call with your landlord to show you the rental unit. Make sure that the location matches your requirements in terms of distance from your job and/or school(if we are talking about the pre-covid19 era obviously) along with other factors such as rent, ease of transport, and distance from other amenities.
Once you pick a place, try to get information about the rental unit and about the landlord by asking the previous tenants (if it is possible) regarding their experience of that place. If you are renting in a housing complex owned by a company, you may even be able to find helpful reviews online. Remember to pay special attention to pest issues such as mice and roach infestation. Once you have finalized a place, start the application process. You may be required include your personal information along with your employment and residential history and maybe even a credit check.
The application process should be free of cost. The landlord may ask the tenant to provide the appropriate references but the landlord has no right to ask about the Social insurance number of the tenant. Any amount that is taken by the landlord before signing a lease is considered as a security deposit.
The landlord can ask for ½ month’s rent as a deposit, not more than that. This deposit can be used to cover the repairs of damage that might be caused to the property by you, but this can deposit can not towards the normal wear and tear or for deep cleaning of the place.
Inspect the property with the landlord if possible and fill out the rental unit condition report form to note down any damage on the property. Any damage not covered in the form can be considered the responsibility of the future tenant.
Image source: first and second page of form P from novascotia.ca
Signing the lease- your lease consists of some basic information including start date, landlord information, security amount, rent details, and requirements of ending the lease.
Lease renewal is usually on a yearly, monthly, or weekly basis. These periodic leases are usually on the autorenewal basis until the notice for termination is received.
Once moved in you can request your landlord to change the lease from a yearly to monthly basis by submitting the DR1 form at least 3 months before termination.
Once the lease is signed tenant should receive a copy of the lease from the landlord within 10 days.
If the lease agreement paper is not signed then the rules go for a monthly basis. For late rent, the landlord can charge 1% of the monthly rent as a penalty. Rent can be in any form from cash, direct deposit, or cheque. To increase rent for the place the landlord has to give at least 4 months of notice before that, and it can only be done once in 12 month period. The landlord can increase the rent to any amount but tenants can choose to terminate the contract by submitting Form-C: tenants notice to quit before the time limit.
Image source: Form C from novascotia.ca
If the utilities are included in the rent then the landlord has no right to cut off heat or electricity supply in case of dispute or failure to give rent.
The landlord can access the premises but there are few conditions for the same,
it can be done in case of an emergency.
After providing the written notice for an entry during the daytime.
You have the right to stop the landlord from entering the house without your permission if no notice was provided and if it is not an emergency situation. If there is a dispute between the landlord and the tenant, both parties should try to resolve the dispute by referring to the lease and residential tenancy act. If the issue persists then the residential tenancy programs are always available to help. Usually, the cases are solved under the outline of the act and lease under legal supervision and help should always be taken when it’s necessary.
Application to the director can be made in case of unresolved conflict. Once the basic paperwork of the application is done a mediator is appointed just before hearing if both the applicant and the respondent agree on it. Hearing is made on the toll-free telephone line with the conference code. It is recommended that you keep all the information ready for the preceding and submit the required documents before 7 days to be considered. Once the decision is made you can either follow the orders or can appeal in the smaller courts. All of this procedure usually takes around a month and minimal fees depending upon the amount of claim.
PS: Remember to check where your closest NSLC is, just in case your friends insist on a house warming party (which they will).
Novascotia.ca: tenancy guide