Being a Tenant

Information about renting in Halifax or Truro

We strongly encourage you to view apartments in person if at all possible or via a real time tou.  Make note of any new questions you think of during the tour and add them to the ones that are important to you on a personal basis. 

You've found a place that meets your needs. Now it's time to focus on the rental agreement. What does the lease include? How much is the damage deposit? What are the terms? What are your rights as a tenant? There's a lot to think about but you have plenty of resources to help you get through it.   

Ask The Right Questions

Be sure you know what's expected and what's included before you sign a lease. See Before You Sign for a list of important questions to ask your landlord.

Protect Yourself

Get the information you need—from legal advice to tenant insurance to detailed information about tenant rights. See Tenancy Resources to learn more.

The Basics

What is a lease?

A lease is a legal contract that defines your rights and responsibilities in terms of a rental property. There are two types of lease contracts: one-year lease and month-to-month. For a one-year lease, you must stay for the full year and give three months notice before the end of the lease. If you cannot stay the entire year, you might be able to sublet the apartment to someone else, but you are still responsible for the property. For a month-to-month lease you must give one month's notice before vacating.

What is a rental application?

Rental companies usually require you to submit an application (check out this example provided by CMHC). In general, to apply for housing, you must show that you'll be a good tenant by abiding by the rental agreement, committing to the duration of the lease and paying rent on time. Once you've signed a lease, it's difficult to break the contract. You may be asked to provide the following information:

·         Biographical information about yourself and any potential roommates.

  • Information about where you've lived before and offer references.
  • Proof of financial means and undergo a credit check.
  • Provide details of a Canadian bank
  • Provide a guarantor if you don't have full-time work.
  • Pay a damage deposit (half a month's rent) to secure the apartment.
  • Provide proof of tenant insurance. 

What is a Sublet?

A sublet is a type of rental agreement between a tenant and a subtenant. This means that the tenant of a rental unit finds someone else to rent their unit from them for a period of time.  You must have permission from your landlord to sublet your apartment before someone new moves in.

What is a damage deposit and how much will it cost?

In Nova Scotia, renters pay a damage or security deposit before moving in. The deposit cannot be any more than one half of one month's rent. The deposit is returned when you move out, if the apartment is found to be in the same condition as when you moved in.

What is a Co-signer or Guarantor?

A co-signer or guarantor is someone who can take responsibility of the tenants rent if they can not pay it themselves (usually a parent/ guardian) 

How much will my new apartment really cost?

To estimate how much an apartment will cost you in addition to rental payments, be sure to ask the rental company for an estimate of any utilities that aren't included (heat, electricity, cable, internet and water). In winter months, furnace oil for a house can cost as much as $400/month. Also keep in mind that hooking up services, such as electricity, will involve a one-time connection fee.

What should I expect when I move in/out?

Before you move in, the superintendent for the apartment building or representative for the leasing company should go through the apartment or house with you. Together you'll fill in a form which reflects the state of the apartment when you checked in. Look over the space carefully and be sure any existing damage or issues are written down. If your landlord doesn't do this with you, then do it yourself and send it to the rental company. This document will be used to decide how much damage deposit will be returned upon moving out, so it's in your best interest to take it seriously.