Before signing a lease agreement, read it carefully and make sure you understand it. When signing a lease you are usually asked for a damage deposit. A damage deposit is money that you pay when you first rent an apartment. Damage deposits are protection for the landlord. The maximum damage deposit is one-half month’s rent. It can be withheld for damages or unpaid rent. The landlord is not required to return the damage deposit until you move out.
When you have signed a lease, you are legally bound to it for the length of time set out in the lease. If for some reason you need to move before the end of the lease, you may be required to sublet the apartment until the end of the lease. Subletting is finding someone to take over for the remainder of your lease and must be approved by the landlord. You must also inform the landlord in advance if you wish to move out. Acceptable notice ranges from one month to three months, depending on your lease.
Rent must be paid every month (usually on the 1st day of the month) unless your lease states otherwise. When renting an apartment or home, you are responsible for any damage caused by your presence. Day-to-day upkeep, such as fixing windows and doors, electrical repairs, and plumbing are the responsibilities of the landlord. Your landlord may not enter your apartment without your approval, except in cases of emergency.
In extreme cases, when a tenant fails to pay rent for months or causes severe problems for other tenants, a landlord may terminate the lease agreement and evict the tenant. Eviction means being forced to leave one’s home. The law requires landlords to use eviction only in the most extreme cases.
For more information on tenants’ rights and responsibilities, visit the Nova Scotia government’s website for tenants and landlords at www.gov.ns.ca/snsmr/consumer/resten.