Nova Scotia Landlords Association

Welcome to the NSLA for Small Business Landlords

The Nova Scotia Landlords Association (NSLA) and its sister organization The Canada Landlords Association (CLA) are leading provincial and national organizations for private small residential landlords. We provide a unified voice for private landlords and promote and protect our members' interests to national and local government.

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Nova Scotia Landlords: Find Good Tenants

 Nova Scotia landlords no tenants

Investors become landlords because we see a business opportunity.

People need nice places to live in and investing in rental property seems like a great industry to be part of.

You’ve read some people who became landlords and although it wasn’t easy they earned enough profits to consider themselves wealthy.

With their new financial freedom they could help out family members, pay for their kids’ university tuition and even take a trip or two.

Challenges for Nova Scotia Landlords

In past blogs we’ve discussed some of the challenges Nova Scotia landlords face.

One of the biggest challenges is what you face if you rent to bad tenants.

It used to be we thought all the worst tenants were in Ontario.

And they still are, as this Ottawa landlord can attest to.

Landlords all over Canada face the ‘bad tenant’ challenge, even Manitoba landlords face this challenge.

Bad Tenants In Nova Scotia

We wrote before about what happened to small landlord Lee Cowan.

She’s the landlord who rented to a group of tenants and after they moved out (without proper legal notice) she found they had trashed the place including:

- Appliances destroyed

- Basement was flooded and now smells horrible and has damaged the enter unit

- Cabinets have been ruined

- Drywall has been destroyed all over

Lack of Tenants

Another problem landlords in our area face is something that isn’t common in other areas of Canada, even places like Manitoba.

It’s a lack of good tenants.

As a recent CBC News report illustrated landlords can find enough renters to fill their properties.

Some landlords are even offering move theaters and gyms where tenants can work out in their rental buildings.

And get ready for this…some landlords are offering tenants free TVs, yoga, rebates from local dentists and even Apple Ipads if you rent from them.

Landlords in Nova Scotia, PEI and Elsewhere in the Region

Have you found good tenants for your rental properties?

What do you think will happen in 2014?

Discuss this in the Nova Scotia Landlords Forum

Nova Scotia & PEI Tenant Screening: Tenant Credit Checks

November 3rd, 2013

Nova Scotia Tenant Screening Tenant Credit Checks and Tenant Criminal Checks

Landlords in our region are facing lots of challenges these days.

And while we want to discuss issues such as low rent increases the media continues to attack landlords.

After all, we are easy targets and easy for the media to define.

Another Landlord Is Trouble

According to a report on CBC News, landlord Lee Cowan of O’Leary says her rental unit has been trashed.

The landlady say when her tenants not only trashed her nice 3-bedroom property they moved out without proper notice….they didn’t even tell her!

What Damages Did The Tenants Do?

 A lot.

The landlady said the damages included:

- Appliances destroyed

- Basement was flooded and now smells horrible and has damaged the enter unit

- Cabinets have been ruined

- Drywall has been destroyed all over

Landlords and Facebook

Cowan has posted her story on Facebook and received a lot of positive replies.

Positive Replies and Support Are Not Enough

“I have gotten thousands of responses,” she said.

“To say thank you to these people is not a big enough word. I can’t think of a big enough word to say how many people have said, ‘We care.

We don’t know you but we care.’ They’re offering me all this support. 

They’re kind, caring people. Maybe they’ll help change the system a bit, so this doesn’t happen to somebody else.”

But no financial support and no answers!

Tenant Screening

These types of terrible stories are becoming more and more common in our region.

We used to think “Oh, those bad tenants are only in Ontario or Quebec.”

Sadly that isn’t true now

As this story shows, landlords need to be careful who you rent to.

If you rent to the wrong tenants you could be out thousands of dollars.

You could be ruined financially?

What Can A Landlord Do To Avoid Bad Tenants?

Smart landlords will do proper tenant screening.

Cowan simply took the money and rented to these ‘tenants from hell.’

Being a landlord in 2013 requires more than just accepting month.

You need to do proper tenant screening, including credit checks.

 

Don’t be a landlord victim! Always do tenant credit checks and make sure you are renting to good tenants.

P.E.I. Landlords Can Raise the Rent by 2% in 2014

 October 5, 2013

P.E.I. Landlords Rent Increase 2014

 

Good news for P.E.I. landlords.

This is especially important with all the bad news for landlords we’ve seen over the past year in the region.

The Island Regulatory and Appeals Commission (also known as IRAC)  had meetings on whether or not there should be a rent increase and, if so, what the allowable rent increase should be.

In its report, IRAC said it received eight submissions from tenants, one from a landlord and one from anti-poverty group Alert.

According to the Guardian website starting Jan. 1, 2014, landlords will be allowed to increase rent for heated premises by two per cent, while rent for unheated premises and mobile homes in trailer parks can go up by one per cent.

How does that compare to other provinces? Well according to the Ontario Landlords AssociationOntario landlords can raise the rent 0.8% in 2014.

In its report on the increases, IRAC said it considered submissions from the public, the vacancy rates in P.E.I., the province’s economic outlook, increases in other provinces, consumer price index forecasts and previous allowed rent increases.

Although IRAC approved an increase, that doesn’t necessarily mean rent will go up the full amount or at all because it is at the landlord’s discretion, as long as they don’t go above the maximum allowed.

Among the concerns tenants raised were the negative effects of a rent increase on people with fixed incomes, above average construction of new rental units and the negative effects an increase would have on students.

IRAC has allowed rent increases every year for the last 10 years, including in 2013 when landlords were able to raise it by as much as five per cent for heated premises and three per cent for unheated.

The report showed rents went up in Charlottetown for 2013 where the average for a two-bedroom unit reached $831 compared to $797 in 2012.

Summerside’s average was $697 in 2013 compared to $669 last year.

That was despite an overall vacancy rate of 7.8 per cent across the province, which was up from 4.8 per cent in 2012.

While IRAC found property taxes are expected to be within the range of consumer price index increases and electricity rate increases will be stable for several years, heating oil prices 35 per cent over the past four years.

To Discuss This And Other Landlord Issues Go To the Canada Landlords Forum!

Lunenburg County – Hard To Find A Place To Call Home

September 1st, 2013

 Affordable Rental Housing

According to a report in the Chronical Herald affordable housing is still a serious problem in Lunenburg County, despite the formation three years ago of a coalition to raise awareness of the issue.

Helen Lanthier of the South Shore Housing Action Coalition says more than 50 per cent of Lunenburg County residents make less than $25,000 a year, and with 91.4 per cent of housing owned, very few apartments are available.

Lanthier went before District of Lunenburg council Tuesday morning, saying, “We’re not here to ask for money,” but to ask for support to promote an affordable housing plan for the region.

Council did pass a motion in 2010 to create a committee to develop an affordable housing plan, but then opted instead to appoint a councillor to the newly formed action coalition. It was formed that year to work for quality, safe and affordable housing in Lunenburg and Queens counties.

The coalition pointed at the time to a shortage of rental units in the region, citing also a lack of different types of housing, such as condominiums and co-operative housing. Lanthier said 34 per cent of renters in Lunenburg County spent more than 30 per cent of their income on housing.

She told councillors Tuesday that when the coalition formed, it believed that “without concrete steps, this situation is likely to get worse before it gets better, mainly because of an aging population.”

And she said that’s exactly what has happened. “Nothing’s changed. The issues of 2010 remain the issues of 2013.”

Lanthier said many renters don’t complain about problems, such as mould, poor maintenance and heating for fear of retribution from the landlord or owner. This is very different than in Ontario where tenants are encouraged to complain by the Landlord and Tenant Board.

Nancy Green, a former home visitor with South Shore Health’s public health services, told of one family of four that lived in a one-bedroom unit with black mould, a leaky roof and poor insulation. They had to use the food bank in part because the father missed work because he was sick from their living conditions.

Their rent was $700 a month when they moved in, and went up by $50 a month.

“The story of (that family) is one that is being played out along the South Shore,” Green said. “Something must be done to improve housing. A house is not just a shelter, it’s a home. It’s where we grow, celebrate, relax and seek comfort. A house is not a home when it’s inadequate.”

A lack of affordable housing also impacts the sustainability and economic viability of a community, Lanthier said, making it a challenge for businesses to keep workers and leading to increased health-care costs.

She said the coalition is asking all municipal councils on the South Shore to commit to development of a local housing action plan. Whether that’s done jointly or individually, “it’s the foundation for changing the nature of affordable housing on the South Shore,” she said.

“The need is real, there’s no question,” said Mayor Don Downe, with affordable housing as great an issue in Lunenburg County as it is in Vancouver.

He said the province’s recently released housing strategy is “a good starting point, but there needs to be some federal and provincial money put into the program to provide the services that people really require to be able to stay in our communities.”

Down said he will take the issue to a regional meeting in September of municipal councils from Lunenburg, Queens and Halifax counties. He hopes the Union of Nova Scotia Municipalities will then vote to push the province to work on an affordable housing strategy for urban and rural communities across the province.

To discuss this and other Landlord and Tenant Issues go to the free Nova Scotia Landlords Forum

Prince Edward Island Landlords Face Climbing Vacancy Rates

July 7, 2013

 Prince Edward Island landlord

As Vacancy Rate Climbs Prince Edward Island Landlords Face Challenges

According to a report by CBC News vacancy rates on Prince Edward Island continue to climb, landlords are having a tough time finding tenants to fill empty rentals.

As if landlords in the region don’t already have enough challenges the most recent numbers from the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) show the vacancy rate in the province’s urban centres is sitting at about 7.8 per cent, up about three per cent from last year.

The number of vacant rental units in Charlottetown jumped to 8.7 per cent in April, up from five per cent the same month last year. CMHC said new units in Charlottetown are the biggest factor in the increase.

Landlord Daniel Rashed Gave Up

After eight months of trying to rent out his condo, landlord Daniel Rashed finally gave up.

“I kept dropping the price, including everything — parking, heating, cable, whatever I had to do — but I didn’t get the response that I thought I would,” he said.

Rashed, who manages 10 rental units, decided to use the condo as office space for his real estate business instead.

“It does have a big impact. One unit empty that could be $10,000 a year, or $12,000 a year that’s not going back into the mortgage and maintenance and heating,” he said.

Where Are the Tenants?

Rashed said he’s one of many landlords around the city having difficulty finding tenants. And he wants to avoid problem tenants.

Meanwhile, at least one developer said hearing the latest CMHC numbers for Charlottetown makes him happy about his latest deal.

In May, Dico Reijers sold eight apartment buildings — 172 units in all — to real estate giant Killam Properties Inc.

“We hustled pretty hard trying to get these units full and while we never got to those numbers there were a couple months where we might have been pretty close to that,” he said.

“That really affects the bottom line for a small business like us.”

According to the CMHC, more Islanders are renting but not enough to keep pace with new construction.

More than 50 cats and kittens were removed from a 1-bedroom apartment in Halifax.

June 1st, 2013

Halifax landlord tenant pets

 

No matter where you are in Canada, landlords know tenants often leave things behind. This time it’s different!

According to a report on CBC news the Disaster Animal Response Team of Nova Scotia says more than 50 cats have been removed from a one bedroom apartment in Halifax.

The team was contacted by the landlord on Friday and with the co-operation of the tenant, 51 cats — ranging from small kittens to adults — were removed from the home of an elderly woman.

Spokeswoman Catherine Stevens says there were several sets of kittens, some that were born just a few days ago, and another cat who may be pregnant.

Stevens says the good news is all the cats were in good health.

 She says a temporary shelter has been set up, where the animals will be cared for over the next few days.

The cats will also be spayed and neutered before going to the SPCA for adoption.

Stevens is reminding the public of the importance of having your pet spayed or neutered.

We would like to remind the provincial government these are some of the issues we face and landlords need more tools to take effective action.

To discuss this and other issues facing Nova Scotia landlords and tenants go to the Nova Scotia Landlord Forum.

Nova Scotia set to tackle affordable housing challenge (what about private landlords?)

May 5th, 2013 facing challenges

 

According to a new report in the Chronical Herald, Nova Scotia is finally getting ready to table a new strategy to create more affordable housing in the province. Where is the good news for private landlords?

Municipality of the District of Lunenburg Mayor Don Down says in his area there is a tremendous need for affordable housing. He stated it’s both an urban and rural issue.

District councillors listened carefully in March as the Minister for Housing and in charge of the Housing Development Corporation of Nova Scotia outlined the provinces new strategy.

Denise Peterson-Rafuse said the new strategy will be a new approach and be different than anything before.

She said the province needs a strong plan if we are to move forward. No plan means no movement and no progress.

Nova Scotia has some of the oldest public housing in Canada. Many units need major repairs, as fast!

Tenants already face lots of problems here. The Minister made it clear that the facts show more serious problems than are visible. “For those who need and require affordable housing, there’s a long wait list. We know that,” the minister said.

And she said the issue of homelessness differs across the province. “There seems to be more attention to homelessness in urban areas, it’s more noticed, but there’s a silent homelessness in rural Nova Scotia that’s not often discussed,” she said.

Peterson-Rafuse said she wants to look at different models for communities, and she wants the communities to say what they think will work for them.

“We’re very open to mould the project to the way that you feel it needs to be and what you feel is best for you as a municipality, what is the best for you as a community,” she said.

The minister said the province wants to partner with developers, community groups and municipalities, which Downe said could work well in turning empty schools into rental or private properties, multi-residential or seniors complexes.

While we applaud the minister for finally taking action on this issue, we wonder why there isn’t more support for residential landlords? Even though we don’t have the same problems landlords in Ontario have, landlords here still a lot of issues that need to be addressed!

To discuss this and other issues facing Nova Scotia landlords and tenants go to the Nova Scotia Landlord Forum.

Tenants Find It Hard To Get Insurance In Saint John’s North End

 April 6th, 2013

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Tenants Are Finding It Hard to Get Insured In Area With High Crime and Fire Rates

According to a CBC report tenants in St. John’s north end are finding if very tough to be able to get tenant insurance.

Tenant Carla Bigney tried to get insurance when she moved into the area. She explained each time she applied she was turned down with the excuse that the area was a “high crime area.” This is just another problem faced by tenants in our region.

According to advocates in the community was Bigney faced is common for tenants in the area. They admit there are buildings in the area which have been boared up and one that’s been a target for those doing arson.

Bigney says she didn’t do anything wrong and crimes happen everywhere. Her rental apartment is right across both a church and a fire department. She wonders what the rationality is behind her being refused insurance. While we often read about tenants who do bad things, in this case a good tenant such as Carla simply wants to protect herself.

Ronald Godin is the Consumer Advocate for Insurance for our province. He explains insurance companies simply aren’t attracted to areas with high crime rates and older homes. Thus, they aren’t interested in placed like the north end. This means if insurance companies aren’t attracted, the area will also not attract investors.

Godin says that tenant insurance is different than auto insurance which has rules forcing the insurance companies to provide auto insurance all over Canada.

According to Godin,”Basically if a company does not want to take you on as a client, you have to try with another company and so on and so fort. It is possible that a person will not be able to obtain insurance in those circumstances.”

To discuss this and other Nova Scotia Landlord and Tenant issues go to the Nova Scotia Landlords Forum and network with thousands of other landlords and tenants across Canada.

P.E.I. Tenant Surprised When His Landlord Refused To Provide a Rent Receipt

March 21st, 2013

receipt460

 

Today’s topic is about rent receipts. According to a report on CBC News, a Charlottetown tenant was amazed his landlord refused to give him a receipt after he paid his rent.

What Did the Landlord Say?

The tenant, Leonard Handrahan, asked his landlord for a receipt and she told him they simply do not provide rent receipts.

What Did He Do Next?

Handrahan contacted the government for help. After all, there have been many new rules put into place for landlords in the region recently.

Did He Receive Help?

He said he was astonished there are no laws in P.E.I. making a landlord provide a rent receipt to their tenants. He has now made it his mission to get the law changed so he can make sure to get rent receipts in the future.

Why Does He Need a Receipt So Badly?

He recently moved out of his old place and into a new rental unit. He needed receipts from his previous landlord because he needs proof of rent because he’s on income support. He requires a lot of medication which is paid for by income support. Handrahan says that at any time the government could demand to see all his receipts or he could lose the benefit.

What Did  Handrahan’s Former Landlord Say About This?

His former landlord said he didn’t even ask her for receipts until he had already vacated the unit.

Handrahan denies this.

Has the Government Commented on This Case?

According to the P.E.I. director for residential rental property, the whole issue about receipts isn’t common.

However, she said changing the law would be a good idea and would avoid these types of conflicts which are common in other provinces such as Ontario.

To discuss this and other issues facing landlords, join our Landlord Forum and network with thousands of other landlords across Canada.

Halifax Landlord – Fined $93,500 for having extra apartments!

February 9th, 2013

Halifax landlord fined for extra rental apartments

A Halifax landlord has been hit with a record fine for violating the municipality’s land-use bylaws.

With already confusion in the landlord community over new rules for landlords the media reports of this huge fine has shocked many Nova Scotia landlords.

In this post we’ll give an overview of what happened.

In January the company Hanstholm Realty Inc. were ordered to pay a fine of $93,500 after they went to provincial court in Halifax where they lost their case.

According to the prosecutor in the case (who represented the Halifax Regional Municipality) this was the largest fine for land usage in Canadian history!

Previously the largest fine was approximately $30,000.

The huge fine reflected the landlords profit from creating 7 more rental units in the building, with an additional premium of forty percent added.

The whole situation is because the building was legally allowed to have 101 rental units. This was agreed upon in an agreement between the landlord and the city government.

However, in 2009 the city of Halifax found the extra units. The landlords corporation didn’t agree to the various options presented to them by the government which led to the fines.

Of course Nova Scotia landlords need to follow the law at all times. 

However, we think governments should also work hard to encourage landlords to create more affordable and safe rental properties. We’ve seen situation in other provinces where the government says there is a shortage of affordable housing and at the same time punished landlords who create it.

Government needs to work with private landlords to create an environment where investment is welcomed. Certainly go after those who break the rules. At the same time let’s make sure those rules are fair and respect the important role private landlords play in our economy and our society.

To discuss this and other issues go to the Nova Scotia Landlord Forum.

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