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A Halifax tenant, Sarah Mosher, is calling for stricter regulations on fixed-term leases after hers was not renewed, leading to her having to move after five years in the same apartment. Fixed-term leases have fixed start and end dates, allowing landlords to end the lease without renewal, allowing them to increase rent beyond the province’s five percent cap. Mosher received notice from her property manager that her lease would not be renewed due to the company’s business strategy. Mosher’s rent is expected to increase from $910 to $1,300. Despite the competitive rental market in Halifax, Mosher found a new apartment for double the rent and must now find a sublet for the remaining months of her current lease.

Mosher believes that tying rent control to units rather than tenants would prevent landlords from evicting tenants to increase rent prices. She feels that fixed-term leases give landlords all the power, leaving tenants vulnerable and with no control over their living situation. Mosher’s property manager stated that not renewing a fixed-term lease is necessary at times for the long-term sustainability of their business. The property manager also mentioned that they work to find mutually beneficial solutions with tenants whenever possible. Mosher expressed concern about pitting potential subletters against each other during a housing crisis.

A legal worker at Dalhousie Legal Aid Service, Mark Culligan, believes that fixed-term leases in Nova Scotia are being used to bypass rent control laws and increase profits for landlords. He advocates for an overhaul of the system, suggesting that fixed-term leases should include a right to renew for tenants. Culligan also believes that implementing vacancy control, where rent control restrictions remain even when a new tenant moves in, could be a viable solution. However, the minister of Service Nova Scotia, Colton LeBlanc, stated that fixed-term leases should be used for short-term placements and temporary job placements, not for a business strategy to increase profits.

LeBlanc emphasized the importance of increasing housing supply to address low vacancy rates and did not commit to overhauling the system or tying rent control to units instead of tenants. He encourages tenants who believe the Residential Tenancies Act is not being followed to apply for the program and have their case heard by the director. Despite this, Culligan believes that under the current system, tenants have limited power to enforce their rights, especially with fixed-term leases giving landlords the upper hand. Mosher expressed frustration with her lack of control in the situation and the imbalance of power between landlords and tenants.

Mosher’s case highlights the challenges faced by tenants in Halifax’s competitive rental market, where fixed-term leases are being used by landlords to circumvent rent control laws and increase profits. Critics argue that fixed-term leases give landlords too much power, leaving tenants vulnerable to rent increases and eviction. Legal experts advocate for an overhaul of the system to include tenant protections and vacancy control to prevent landlords from taking advantage of the tight rental market. While government officials acknowledge the stress faced by tenants in these situations, they are hesitant to make changes to the current system, emphasizing the need to increase housing supply and keep landlords as part of the solution.

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