Rent control provision quietly softened by N.S. Liberals two days after announcement

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Two days after Nova Scotia's Liberals announced temporary rent caps in response to evictions and fast-rising rents amid the pandemic, they quietly decreased how broadly the controls applied.

On Nov. 25, Chuck Porter, who was at the time minister of municipal affairs and housing, signed a minister's directive that limited rent increases to two per cent annually until the conclusion of the state of emergency, or February 2022, whichever came first.

It included a provision that rent controls would apply both to existing tenants and new tenants coming into the same accommodation.

The provision for new tenants, which advocates say is key to discouraging landlords from finding ways to evict tenants, was dropped in an amendment to the Emergency Management Act by Porter on Nov. 27, with no news release issued about the change.

A spokeswoman for Service Nova Scotia, which oversees the Residential Tenancies Act, said in an email Wednesday the directive "was amended as it went further than the policy intent of protection for existing tenants.''
   
Tracy Barron said the later version was posted on the government's COVID-19 website and published in the Royal Gazette. 

Some landlord and tenants groups also say they received an email about the change.

(Michael Tutton/The Canadian Press)