Nova Scotia is known for some of the most limiting rental rules in the country. While it’s not your best friend, the Nova Scotia Tenancy Act is there to protect you. Do yourself a favour and read it well, keep it close and ask questions.
1. Actually get your copy. It’s a little-known fact, but if you haven’t gotten your copy of the Act from your landlord, you can move right back out. You can get your deposit back and leave, no harm done, if you landlord fails to give you a copy within 10 days of the following: the day you sign the lease, the day you get your keys, or the day you actually move into the rental unit. If your landlord has failed to give you a copy of the Act (for free, of course), you are within your rights to move out as long as you’ve given three months’ notice. This is good to know if you change your mind early or discover problems after moving in.
2. Google your potential home. Weird as this might sound, it could save you from a big mistake. There are a few locations used in scams year after year to lure in dozens of students, offer to rent to all of them, collect their deposits and disappear. Better safe than sorry.
3. Things go quickly. Don’t come back in September expecting to walk a few blocks and find a perfect apartment waiting for you. This city is saturated with students. If you want a particular neighbourhood or are working within a certain budget, you’d better start early.
4. So, have your deposit ready. You can look at a place and tell the landlord you love it all you want, but it’s not yours until your deposit check is theirs. Be prepared to give them a half a month’s rent, and not a penny more. After that’s in, you’ll be able to sign the lease and call your new place home. Otherwise, don’t be surprised if you come back a few days later and find out someone else loved it too—and now it’s gone.
5. Figure out how long you’re staying. If you think you might be somewhere for more than a year, you have options. You can re-sign for an additional full year or switch to month-to-month. You just need to let your landlord know three months before your last day.
6. Same goes if you’re not staying. If you want out after your lease is up, you still need to tell your landlord three months in advance. Not doing so means they assume you’re staying and can charge you for a month’s rent (at least), considering they had less time to try to rent the place out.
7. Subletting isn’t always worth it. If someone sublets from you, you’re still responsible if the apartment catches fire. If they throw a party and tear through a wall, guess who has to pay for that? Your subletter enters a contract with you, but you’re still in a contract with your landlord. You can sue for damages, but ultimately, prepare to foot the bill until that works out.
8. And not every landlord will let you sublet. Probably because someone at some point partied through a wall. If you plan on moving back home for the summer, you might want to make sure you know your options first to avoid a nasty surprise in April.
9.The weird stuff: bedbugs, mice and more. It can be scary, embarrassing and a lot of things to find a mouse or a bedbug in your room. Don’t hide it, though. These little pests are not your responsibility, or at least not yet. Immediately notify your landlord and have them send over an exterminator or cleaner (at no expense to you). Keep in mind, you’re responsible to follow the professionals’ instructions and keep the rodents and roaches out. If they come back because of your negligence, it’s on your head. That’s not to say you’re liable if you see another antenna or tail, but you have to do your part to keep the place clean.
10. Talk to your landlord. This list is by no means exhaustive. If you want to know what the rules are to move out early, go month-to-month, add a roommate, paint or do whatever, ask your landlord. While the Act exists to protect everyone from getting ripped off, there’s no reason you and your landlord can’t come to a mutual agreement.