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 landlord interests to national and local government.
September 1st, 2013
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.
July 7, 2013
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.
The Atlantic region needs to attract more companies to fill empty office space as landlords battle for the same number of tenants, delegates at a real estate conference heard Tuesday.
Todd Bechard, Atlantic region executive vice-president for Cominar REIT, said during a panel discussion at the Atlantic Real Estate Forum in Halifax that more work needs to be done to attract new tenants to the region.
“That’s the opportunity we need to be (looking at) more and more, is to try and bring new tenants into these markets, because literally we’re all stealing (from each other). We’re talking about the Nova Centre. Well, they better bring in tenants from outside because, otherwise, you’re stealing from everybody else.”
The competition for new tenants is particularly fierce in Halifax, as suburban landlords vie to fill new space in sprawling new developments, while downtown owners are looking to keep pace.
According to a recent CBRE Ltd. report, overall vacancy in Halifax was 9.7 per cent in the first quarter.
The downtown rate fell to 10.3 per cent, while the suburban rate rose to 9.2 per cent from the previous quarter.
A humorous exchange between Barry Stockall of Crombie REIT and William Hardman of Hardman Group highlighted how competitive the office market is in Halifax.
Speaking about tenants’ desire for amenities such security and parking space, Stockall, senior director of office leasing at Crombie, noted how much work is being done to compete with the suburban market.
“The more you give them, the easier it gets to lease the space. The lobbies, the buildings, are being constantly upgraded to try to compete with Bill and his new buildings now in Burnside (Park). You’ve got to be pretty sharp,” Stockall said, referring to the new $50-million business campus at the corner of Wright Avenue and Burnside Drive that Hardman Group is developing.
“We haven’t stolen any of your (tenants) yet,” Hardman said.
“And you’re not going to, either,” Stockall replied, eliciting laughs from the room.
Halifax Developments Ltd., owned and managed by Sobey family-controlled Crombie REIT, is planning to build a three-storey addition to Scotia Square between Barrington Tower and the Delta Halifax.
Earlier this year, the company also received approval to build another three-storey, 100,000-square-foot addition of class A office space dubbed Westhill on Duke at the corner of Duke and Albemarle streets.
Hardman said tenants’ preference to relocate to the suburbs stem from their need for buildings that offer new amenities that also promise lower operating costs, something that has been lacking downtown until recently.
“We look at it and say that it’s really an evolution of choices for tenants,” he said.
“You have a market in Halifax that has not seen a lot of new product. And so when you do, all of a sudden, have a new product that comes into the market, it gives tenants a choice to finally see something that’s brand new, that has a number of bells and whistles.”
But Hardman said with work underway on the Nova Centre, the TD Centre expansion and the RBC Waterside Centre, downtown Halifax is on the verge of a comeback, creating a more balanced environment.
June 1st, 2013
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.
By Monique Chiasson and Harry Sullivan
Truro Daily News
TRURO – The Town of Truro has officially been named one of the few places in Nova Scotia to become involved in a new long-term housing strategy.
During the next 10 years, $500 million will be spent to support new and enhanced affordable housing projects and programs in the province. A graduate home ownership program to encourage young people stay in their communities may also be implemented.
Town Coun. Greg MacArthur was in Dartmouth on Monday when the announcement was made by Premier Darrell Dexter and Community Services Minister Denise Peterson-Rafuse.
“Truro is very lucky. There’s a big need for it here … we want to make sure no one is without affordable housing and make sure people feel they are a part of society,” MacArthur told the Truro Daily News after informing town council about the good news on Monday afternoon. He said Halifax and Bridgewater were also taking part in the project, along with a few other Nova Scotia sites.
Among the programs that Housing Nova Scotia is considering are down payment assistance, lease-to-own opportunities, the graduate home ownership program, and retrofit programs to help seniors and families caring for loved ones with disabilities stay in their homes longer.
Locally, MacArthur said the former Alice Street Elementary School property could be the model used in this area. A public hearing will be held on June 10 at the next regular monthly town council meeting to discuss a potential agreement with Meech Holdings Ltd. to create a 28-unit development that could be incorporated in the new initiative.
MacArthur said the project will assist people needing a more affordable home as well as dealing with landlords who neglect their property.
“They could be given money for their property and it would be bought by a reputable landlord and move the tenant there,” MacArthur said.
The councillor said the project is coming to fruition in part by the efforts of Truro Bible Hill MLA Lenore Zann.
“We’ve worked for more than a year with Lenore on this,” MacArthur said.
Zann said the initiative is great news, indeed.
“I’m thrilled and excited and I’m really happy for the people of the province, because this is so needed,” she said, adding the effort is also a way to deal with homelessness.
“Because this will do away with shelters. Really, shelters will become something that will not be necessary. That’s what we’re hoping.”
The housing strategy was built on themes that emerged from province-wide public consultations held last year with more than 500 Nova Scotians, including non-profit and community organizations engaged in housing issues, housing developers, governments, and residents.
In addition, developers and municipalities will have the opportunity to work with the Atlantic Co-operative Council, Canada Co-operative Council or Habitat for Humanity.
MacArthur said the next step locally is to meet with government department officials and make formal decisions about the Alice Street property.
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.
December 15th, 2012
People in Nova Scotia who have filed domestic violence complaints would be able to get out of their residential leases early without penalty under proposed legislative changes introduced Monday.
Service Nova Scotia Minister John MacDonell said the changes to the Residential Tenancies Act would allow people who say they’ve been abused to get out of fixed term or year-to-year leases with one month’s notice.
“It allows them to move out of an abusive situation for their health and their family’s health and also relieves them of any financial liability that may exist with the lease,” said MacDonell.
In order to get out of the lease, a tenant would have to make an application within 90 days of obtaining an emergency protection order and file a domestic violence complaint to police.
They would need a peace bond or some other court order as well as a certificate from the province’s Director of Victims Services saying they are a victim of domestic violence.
John Joyce-Robinson, a director of victims services at the Justice Department, said the changes are modelled on similar legislation in Manitoba.
He said that legislation helped six to eight people in Manitoba in the first year it was enacted.
The change was recommended in a 2009 government report on domestic violence.
April 6th, 2013
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.”
March 21st, 2013
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.