March 20th, 2023

Houston must address housing crisis, close fixed-term lease loophole

HALIFAX – Too many Nova Scotians are struggling to afford their rent or mortgage. The state of housing has continued to deteriorate under the Houston government with rents and interest rates increasing much faster than incomes and tenants being forced into precarious fixed-term leases with no options.

As Elizabeth O’Hanley’s fixed-term lease end date approached on her Dartmouth home, her landlord said she couldn’t sign a new lease. She spent months searching for a new residence in a rental market with 1 percent vacancy.

“By having me and my neighbour move out, my landlord is now charging approximately $1,400 more, or more than double per unit,” said O’Hanley. “I have a full-time, professional job. My current position should mean homeownership, but the current rental market is increasingly pricing people out. What’s to come when the rent cap expires at the end of December 2023 and there’s no plan to protect tenants, especially those in fixed term leases?”

Over the last year many Nova Scotians have been forced to move because of a loophole in the rules around fixed-term leases. The Nova Scotia NDP will introduce legislation tomorrow to protect tenants from losing their homes because of the use of fixed term leases.

“A key part of the cost of living crisis facing so many in Nova Scotia is the skyrocketing cost of housing,” said NDP Leader Claudia Chender. “People need to be able to find and keep a truly affordable place to live for them and their family. We hear from people across the province that either aren’t able to find a place to live, or are worried that they soon won’t be able to afford the home they have.”

The NDP have also previously introduced legislation to put permanent rent control in place in Nova Scotia. The “Rental Fairness and Affordability Act” proposes fair caps on rent increases, protecting both landlords and tenants.

“The Houston government is leaving too many people on their own, standing by while landlords use loopholes and other tactics to evict people, threaten tenants or to get around the rent cap,” said Suzy Hansen, NSNDP spokesperson for Housing. “People are getting evicted with nowhere to go. Housing is more than just the roof over your head, housing is a human right.”