Rise in Rental Housing Costs Hits Nova Scotia Amid Housing Crisis

Rise in Rental Housing

The cost of rental housing in Nova Scotia is experiencing its fastest rise since data collection began in 1979, according to the latest consumer price index figures. The province’s rent inflation rate has soared to 14.1%, making it the highest in Canada and the third-highest on record. This surge comes as Halifax’s homelessness rate has doubled in a year, and its vacancy rate has dropped to the second-lowest in the country.

Just five years ago, rents in Nova Scotia were increasing at a rate of around one percent, and as recently as January 2021, they were declining. Despite the existence of a provincial rent cap, rental costs have continued to climb.

The current rent-control system in Nova Scotia is under scrutiny, with both tenants and landlords asserting that it is flawed. Mark Culligan, a community legal worker with Dalhousie Legal Aid Service in Halifax, remarked, “We have a patchwork system of rent control here in Nova Scotia. It was built as an emergency measure and now it’s breaking down even more.”

The temporary two percent cap, implemented in 2020 to shield renters during the COVID-19 pandemic, was extended until 2025 by the current PC government in response to the housing crisis. However, the cap is set to increase to five percent in January. Small landlords argue that the cap prevents them from recovering costs as expenses like heating and mortgage payments rise.

Witness Report

Andrew Warnica, a landlord in Halifax for nearly two decades, has witnessed substantial cost increases in recent years, leading to financial losses on one of his three rental units. Despite having long-term tenants who are content and wish to stay, Warnica is losing money due to rising costs.

Market rent is also on the rise, making it difficult for tenants like Allison Rouillard and her husband, who have been renting in Westphal for over a decade. Facing eviction as their landlord sells the property, they are finding it challenging to secure affordable housing in the current market where one-bedroom apartments are priced at $2,000 and above.

The housing crisis in Nova Scotia has intensified, prompting calls for a reevaluation of the rent-control system and comprehensive measures to address the challenges faced by both tenants and landlords.

Sumann Senguptaa

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