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News brief: For now tenants can say no to landlords who want to conduct in-person showings

Photo Robert Devet

KJIPUKTUK (Halifax) – As of May 21 landlords must ask for tenants’ permission before they conduct in-person showings for the purpose of renting or selling the property.

Landlords who ignore the directive will pay the price. A failure to comply with this directive could result in a summary conviction with fines between $500 to $10,000 for individuals and up to $100,000 for a corporation.

These new measures were introduced on May 21st under the Emergency Management Act. They will remain in effect until June 30th.

All this would have saved tenants a lot of headaches and unnecessary harassment if only they had been in place earlier. As it is, I believe they should remain in place for as long as COVID-19 remains a threat in Nova Scotia. 

In my own case, I have been renting a house that has been for sale for a little more than two years. I have never said no to a real estate agent who wants to show my rented home, even without the required 24-hour notice. But ever since the announcement of the lockdown the house showings were getting out of hand. We were bombarded with notices about showings almost every other day.

I tried to address this issue for weeks as my youngest son has autism and is at higher risk for contracting viruses.  

The landlord confirmed showings without my consent and decided without my input when he was going to invade my privacy, regardless of the multitude of other things I have going on as a single mother of two high-needs kids.   

I have pleaded with him on many occasions to please respect the health of my children as rules already stated that either because of being in quarantine or due to a health condition the landlord cannot not show your unit.  

People say you should expect that kind of thing when you rent, but for me the health and safety risk always were a real issue. 

After doing my research and speaking with the Tenancy Board and even the RCMP and 811, I wrote my landlord a formal letter. I reminded him that last year I had to deal with people viewing my home without wearing masks.

The Tenancy Board told me that I do not have to leave the home during the viewing. Ever since I no longer leave during viewings because I want to make sure that people are wearing masks and following the rules and I do not feel comfortable with leaving my belongings as well as having to uproot my kids in the winter or during online school.  

During a lockdown there should always have been regulations holding realtors and landlords accountable to prevent such bullying tactics. 

The trouble is that even before Covid affordable housing was unavailable, and landlords knew it. Continuous pleas for repairs go ignored with the excuse that “there’s a showing tomorrow.”

Landlords are taking advantage of the tight housing market by becoming increasingly unreasonable and disrespectful of tenants. Many persons on the margins have been falsely evicted because they were unaware of their rights. 

Nova Scotia ACORN is keeping track of evictions and supports people who have to deal with unreasonable landlords. Find them on Facebook, and email them at halifax@acorncanada.org.

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