BILL NO. 51

(as introduced)

1st Session, 63rd General Assembly
Nova Scotia
66 Elizabeth II, 2017



Private Member's Bill



Rental Fairness and Affordability Act



Susan Leblanc
Dartmouth North



First Reading: October 17, 2017

Second Reading:

Third Reading:

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An Act to Limit Increases in Rent
for Residential Premises

Be it enacted by the Governor and Assembly as follows:

1 This Act may be cited as the Rental Fairness and Affordability Act.

2 (1) Subject to subsection (2) and the regulations, words and expressions in this Act have the same meanings as in the Residential Tenancies Act.

(2) In this Act,

(a) "lawful rent" means the lawful rent as determined by Section 5 and thereafter modified by the provisions of this Act;

(b) "guideline" means the guideline established under Section 7;

(c) "prescribed" means prescribed by the regulations.

(3) A reduction in services provided by a landlord is deemed to be an increase of rent.

3 (1) No landlord shall increase the rent charged for residential premises except in accordance with this Act.

(2) No landlord shall increase the rent charged for a residential-premises unit more than once in a 12-month period.

4 No landlord shall charge rent to a tenant in an amount that is greater than lawful rent permitted by this Act.

5 (1) Subject to Section 6 and unless otherwise prescribed, the lawful rent that may be charged for residential premises for which there is a lease in effect on the day this Section comes into force is the rent that was charged on the day before this Section came into force or, if that amount was not permitted under the Rental Act or the Rent Review Act, the amount that was permitted on that day.

(2) Subject to Section 6, the lawful rent for residential premises for the first rental period for a new tenant under a new lease is the rent charged to the previous tenant or, where there is not a previous tenant, the rent first charged to the new tenant.

6 (1) The lawful rent is not affected by

(a) a discount in rent at the beginning of, or during, a tenancy of up to two per cent of the rent that could otherwise be lawfully charged, if the discount is provided for paying rent on or before the date it is due and the discount meets any prescribed conditions;

(b) a discount in rent at the beginning of, or during, a tenancy that consists of up to three months rent in any 12-month period if the discount is provided in the form of rent-free periods and meets any prescribed conditions;

(c) a prescribed discount.

(2) Subject to subsection (1), where a landlord offers a discount in rent at the beginning of, or during, a tenancy, the lawful rent must be calculated in accordance with the regulations.

(3) Where the rent a landlord charges for the first rental period of a tenancy is greater than the rent the landlord charges for subsequent rental periods, the lawful rent must be calculated in accordance with the regulations.

7 (1) The lawful rent may be increased in accordance with the guideline established by this Section.

(2) Subject to subsection (4), the Minister shall establish a guideline for each year as the lowest of

(a) 2.5 per cent;

(b) the percentage change from year to year in the Consumer Price Index for the Province for prices of goods and services as reported monthly by Statistics Canada, averaged over the 12-month period that ends at the end of May of the previous calendar year, rounded to the first decimal point; and

(c) the prescribed percentage.

(3) The Minister shall publish the guideline for each year in the Royal Gazette not later than August 31st of the preceding year.

(4) The guideline for the year in which this Act comes into force is 0.8 per cent.

8 (1) A landlord and tenant may agree to increase the rent charged to the tenant if

(a) the landlord has carried out or undertakes to carry out a specified capital expenditure in exchange for the rent increase; or

(b) the landlord has provided or undertakes to provide a new or additional service in exchange for the rent increase.

(2) An agreement under subsection (1) must be in the prescribed form.

(3) An agreement under this Section must not increase the rent by more than the guideline established by Section 7 plus three percent.

(4) A tenant who enters into an agreement under this Section may cancel the agreement by giving written notice to the landlord within five days after signing it.

(5) An agreement under this Section may come into force no earlier than six days after it has been signed.

(6) Section 20 does not apply to a rent increase under this Section.

(7) Notwithstanding any deemed acceptance of an increase under Section 21, where a landlord and tenant enter into an agreement under this Section, a notice of rent increase given by the landlord to the tenant before the agreement was entered into becomes void when the agreement takes affect if the notice of rent increase is to take effect on or after the day the agreed to increase is to take effect.

9 (1) A tenant or former tenant may apply to the Director for relief if the landlord and tenant or former tenant agreed to an increase in rent under Section 8 and

(a) the landlord has failed in whole or in part to carry out an undertaking under the agreement;

(b) the agreement was based on work that the landlord claimed to have done but did not do; or

(c) the agreement was based on services that the landlord claimed to have provided, but did not provide.

(2) No application may be made under this Section more than two years after the rent increase becomes effective.

(3) In an application under this Section, the Director may find that some or all of the rent increase above the guideline is invalid from the day on which it took effect and may order the rebate of any money consequently owing to the tenant or former tenant.

10 (1) A landlord may increase the rent charged to a tenant for residential premises at any time if the landlord and tenant agree that the landlord will add either of the following with respect to the tenant's occupancy of the residential premises:

(a) a parking space;

(b) a prescribed service, facility, privilege, accommodation or thing.

(2) A landlord shall decrease the rent charged to a tenant for residential premises in accordance with the regulations where the landlord and tenant agree that the landlord will cease providing anything referred to in subsection (1).

11 An agreement under Section 8 or 10 is void if it was entered into as a result of coercion or as a result of a false, incomplete or misleading representation by the landlord.

12 (1) A landlord may apply to the Director for an order permitting the rent charged by the landlord to be increased by more than the guideline for any or all the residential premises in a particular building or group of buildings if in the previous year

(a) there was an extraordinary increase in the cost for municipal taxes and charges relating to the residential premises;

(b) there was an extraordinary increase in the cost of utilities included in the rent;

(c) the landlord incurred prescribed capital expenditures with respect to the residential premises or the building or buildings containing those premises; or

(d) the landlord incurred operating costs related to providing security services by persons not employed by the landlord in respect of the residential premises or the building or buildings containing those residential premises.

(2) An application under this Section must be made at least 90 days before the date of the first intended rent increase referred to in the application.

(3) Where an application is made in respect of an increase in the cost of utilities under clause (1)(b),

(a) the application must include information on the total cost of those utilities; and

(b) the landlord shall provide the information referred to in clause (a) to each tenant whose rent the landlord is applying to increase.

(4) Where an application is made in respect of capital expenditures under clause (1)(c), the application must include

(a) a description of the work that was or is to be carried out;

(b) the person or entity that performed or is to perform the work;

(c) the person or entity that ordered the work and the date the order was made; and

(d) such additional information as may be prescribed.

(5) Where an application is made in respect of capital expenditures under clause (1)(c), the landlord shall provide the information referred to in subsection (4) to each tenant whose rent the landlord is applying to increase.

13 (1) Where the Director is of the opinion that an increase in rent applied for under Section 12 is fair and reasonable in the circumstances, the Director shall issue an order approving the increase.

(2) Where the Director is of the opinion that an increase in rent applied for under Section 12 is not fair and reasonable in the circumstances, the Director may refuse to issue an order approving the increase, or may issue an order substituting a lesser percentage increase.

14 Where the Director issues an order to increase rent as a result of a prescribed capital expenditure pursuant to clause 12(1)(c),

(a) the Director shall specify in the order the percentage of the increase that is attributable to the prescribed capital expenditure;

(b) the Director shall specify in the order a date, determined in accordance with the regulations, for the purpose of clause (c);

(c) the order shall require that

15 (1) Where the Director issues an order to increase rent as a result of an extraordinary increase in the cost of utilities pursuant to clause 12(1)(b),

(a) the Director shall specify in the order the percentage increase that is attributable to the extraordinary increase; and

(b) the specified portion of the increase ceases to apply if the landlord ceases to provide the utility to the residential premises.

(2) Where the landlord increased the rent pursuant to an order referred to in subsection (1) and the cost of utilities decreases by more than the prescribed percentage in the prescribed period, the landlord shall reduce the rent in accordance with the regulations.

16 (1) A tenant may apply to the Director for an order for a reduction of the rent charged for residential premises due to a reduction or discontinuance in services or facilities provided in respect of residential premises.

(2) A former tenant may apply under this Section if the former tenant was affected by the discontinuance or reduction of services or facilities while a tenant.

(3) The Director shall make findings in accordance with the regulations and may order that

(a) the rent charged be reduced by a specified amount;

(b) there be a rebate to the tenant of any rent found to have been unlawfully collected by the landlord; or

(c) the rent charged be reduced by a specified amount for a specified period if there has been a temporary reduction in a service.

(4) An order under this Section reducing rent takes effect on the day that the discontinuance or reduction first occurred.

(5) No application may be made under this Section more than two years after a reduction or discontinuance of services or facilities.

17 (1) Where the municipal property tax for residential premises or a building containing residential premises is reduced by more than the prescribed percentage, the lawful rent for those residential premises is reduced in accordance with the regulations.

(2) The rent reduction has effect on the date determined by the regulations, whether or not notice has been given under subsection (3).

(3) Where, for a building with the prescribed number of residential premises, the lawful rent is reduced under subsection (1), the municipality in which the building is located shall, within the prescribed period and by the prescribed method of service, notify the Director, the landlord and all of the tenants in the building of that fact.

(4) The notice required under subsection (3) must be in the prescribed form and shall

(a) inform the tenants that their rent is reduced;

(b) set out the percentage by which their rent is reduced and the date the reduction takes effect;

(c) inform the tenants that where the rent is not reduced in accordance with the notice they may apply to the Director for an order under Section 19; and

(d) advise the landlord and the tenants of their right to apply for an order under Section 18.

18 (1) A landlord or tenant may apply to the Director under the prescribed circumstances for an order varying the amount by which the rent charged is to be reduced under Section 17.

(2) An application under subsection (1) must be made within the prescribed time.

(3) The Director shall determine an application under this Section in accordance with the regulations and shall issue an order setting out the percentage of the rent reduction.

(4) An order under this Section has effect on the date determined under subsection 17(2).

19 (1) A tenant of residential premises may apply to the Director for an order for a reduction of the rent charged for the premises due to a reduction in the municipal taxes and charges relating to the residential premises.

(2) The Director shall determine an application under this Section in accordance with the regulations and shall issue an order setting out the percentage of the rent reduction.

(3) An order under this Section has effect on the date determined in accordance with the regulations.

20 (1) A landlord shall not increase the rent charged to a tenant without first giving at least 90 days written notice of the landlord's intention to do so.

(2) The notice required under subsection (1) must be in the prescribed form.

(3) An increase in rent is void where the landlord has not given the notice required under subsection (1).

21 A tenant who does not give a landlord notice to quit under Section 10 of the Residential Tenancies Act after receiving a notice of an intended rent increase under Section 20 is deemed to have accepted the lower of the increase specified in the notice or whatever rent increase would be allowed under this Act.

22 Any rent collected by a landlord that exceeds the lawful rent is a debt due to the tenant or former tenant who paid that rent.

23 Where there is more than one tenant occupying residential premises, the aggregate of all rents charged to tenants in respect of those premises may not exceed the lawful rent.

24 An order of the Director made under this Act may be appealed in accordance with Sections 17C to 17F of the Residential Tenancies Act.

25 Two or more tenants may make an application to the Director under this Act jointly, in accordance with the regulations, if the application is in respect of the same landlord and residential premises in the same building.

26 Every person who contravenes this Act is guilty of an offence and is liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding $1,000.

27 The Minister shall initiate a review of this Act within four years of its coming into force and thereafter within four years of the previous review.

28 (1) The Governor in Council may make regulations

(a) exempting a municipality, part of a municipality, building or residential premises from the application of this Act or a provision of this Act;

(b) respecting the calculation and determination of lawful rent;

(c) prescribing conditions that discounts referred to in clause 6(1)(a) or (b) must meet to not affect the lawful rent;

(d) prescribing discounts that do not affect the lawful rent;

(e) prescribing a percentage pursuant to subsection 7(2);

(f) prescribing any forms that are to be prescribed under this Act;

(g) prescribing services, facilities, privileges, accommodations or things for the purpose of clause 10(1)(b);

(h) respecting decreases in rent pursuant to subsection 10(2);

(i) prescribing capital expenses for the purpose of Sections 12 to 14;

(j) respecting applications, including the information that must be included in an application, the form of an application and joint applications;

(k) respecting the determination of dates pursuant to clause 14(b);

(l) prescribing the percentage and period for the purpose of subsection 15(2);

(m) respecting the reduction of rent under subsection 15(2);

(n) respecting findings and determinations of the Director;

(o) prescribing a percentage for the purpose of subsection 17(1);

(p) respecting the date on which a rent reduction has effect pursuant to subsection 17(2);

(q) prescribing a number of residential premises for the purpose of subsection 17(3);

(r) defining or further defining any word or expression used in this Act;

(s) respecting any matter or thing which the Governor in Council considers necessary or advisable to effectively carry out the intent and purpose of this Act.

(2) Regulations made under this Section may be general or specific in application, and, for greater certainty, may apply to specific municipalities, parts of municipalities or particular buildings or particular residential premises or categories thereof.

(3) The exercise by the Governor in Council of the authority contained in subsection (1) is a regulation within the meaning of the Regulations Act.

29 Chapter 8 of the Acts of 1959, the Rental Act, is repealed.

30 Chapter 398 of the Revised Statutes, 1989, the Rent Review Act, is repealed.

31 The heading immediately after Section 10I and Sections 11, 11A and 11B of Chapter 401 of the Revised Statutes, 1989, the Residential Tenancies Act, are repealed.

32 Section 20 of Chapter 401, as amended by Chapter 31 of the Acts of 1992, Chapter 7 of the Acts of 1997 and Chapter 10 of the Acts of 2002, is further amended by striking out "Rent Review" in the seventh line and substituting "Rental Fairness and Affordability".

33 Section 23 of Chapter 401, as amended by Chapter 10 of the Acts of 2002, is further amended by striking out "or the Rent Review Act" in the seventh line.

34 This Act has effect on and after January 1, 2018.

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