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CHAPTER 398

OF THE

REVISED STATUTES, 1989


NOTE - This electronic version of this statute is provided by the Office of the Legislative Counsel for your convenience and personal use only and may not be copied for the purpose of resale in this or any other form. Formatting of this electronic version may differ from the official, printed version. Where accuracy is critical, please consult official sources.

An Act to Establish a
Rent Review Commission and to
Provide for the Review of Rents

Short title

1 This Act may be cited as the Rent Review Act. R.S., c. 398, s. 1.

Purpose of Act

2 The purpose of this Act is to establish a Rent Review Commission and to authorize that Commission to review all rent increases in excess of a percentage increase per annum hereinafter specified unless such increase in excess thereof has been previously authorized by this Act. R.S., c. 398, s. 2.

Application of Act over tenancy agreement

3 (1) This Act applies to all residential premises as defined herein notwithstanding the terms of any tenancy agreement to the contrary.

Application of tenancy agreement over Act

(2) Notwithstanding subsection (1), where a tenancy agreement provides for no rent increase or a lesser percentage increase of rent than is provided herein during the rent periods to which this Act applies, then the provisions of the tenancy agreement in respect of rent apply to the residential premises rather than this Act. R.S., c. 398, s. 3.

Interpretation

4 In this Act,

(a) "Commission" means the Rent Review Commission;

(b) "landlord" includes a person who is deemed to be a landlord, a lessor, owner, the person giving or permitting the occupation of premises and his and their heirs and assigns and legal representatives;

(c) "Minister" means the Minister of Consumer Affairs;

(d) "mobile home" means any trailer that is

(e) "mobile home park" means any lot, piece or parcel of land upon which two or more occupied mobile homes are located for a period of ten days or more, either free of charge or for revenue purposes, and shall include any building, structure or enclosure used or intended for use as part of the equipment of such mobile home park;

(f) "mobile home space" means a plot of ground within a mobile home park designed to accommodate one mobile home;

(g) "rent" means money or other value paid in consideration of the right to possess or occupy real property and includes any consideration of any kind whatsoever paid, given or required to be paid or given by a tenant for occupancy of real property and for any service, privilege, accommodation or thing that the landlord provides for or to the tenant whether or not a separate agreement is concluded or a separate charge is made for such service, privilege, accommodation or thing;

(h) "residential premises" includes any house, dwelling, apartment, flat, tenement, mobile home, mobile home park, mobile home space or other place that is occupied or may be occupied by an individual as a residence or that part of any such place that is or may be occupied by an individual as a residence, but does not include

(i) "residential tenancy officer" means a residential tenancy officer appointed pursuant to the Residential Tenancies Act;

(j) "tenancy agreement" means an agreement between a landlord and a tenant for possession or occupation of residential premises, whether written, oral or implied;

(k) "tenant" includes an individual who is deemed to be a tenant and an individual who is a lessee, sublessee, occupant, subtenant or undertenant and his or their heirs, assigns or legal representatives. R.S., c. 398, s. 4.

Administration of Act

5 The Minister shall have the general administration and responsibility for this Act and the regulations. R.S., c. 398, s. 5.

Rent Review Commission

6 (1) There is hereby established a commission which shall be known as the Rent Review Commission.

Composition and term of office

(2) The Commission shall be composed of not fewer than four persons who shall be appointed by the Governor in Council for such term as the Governor in Council shall determine.

Chairman and Vice-chairman

(3) The Governor in Council shall designate one member of the Commission as Chairman and one member as Vice-chairman.

Quorum

(4) Three members of the Commission, one of whom must be the Chairman or Vice-chairman, constitute a quorum and are sufficient for the exercise of all the jurisdiction and powers of the Commission. R.S., c. 398, s. 6.

Powers and duties of Chairman

7 (1) The Chairman shall have the general supervision and direction over the conduct of the affairs of the Commission, and shall arrange the sittings of the Commission and assign members thereto as circumstances require.

Secretary and personnel

(2) Subject to the approval of the Minister, the Commission may appoint a Secretary to the Commission and employ such persons as it may require or deem advisable for the purpose of carrying out the provisions of this Act.

Civil Service Act

(3) Persons employed pursuant to subsection (2) shall be appointed in accordance with the Civil Service Act.

Experts

(4) Notwithstanding subsection (3), the Minister with the approval of the Governor in Council may engage the services of such counsel, accountants and other experts to advise the Commission in respect of matters necessary for the efficient carrying out of the duties and functions of the Commission under this Act and such persons shall be paid such compensation as is determined by the Governor in Council.

Public Service Superannuation Act

(5) For all purposes of the Public Service Superannuation Act every full-time member of the Commission and every full-time employee of the Commission shall be deemed to be a person employed in the public service of the Province, and full-time service in employment of the Commission shall be deemed to be public service.

Absence or inability to act of member

(6) Where the Chairman or any other member is ill or otherwise unable to act or where his office is vacant, the Governor in Council may appoint an Acting Chairman or acting member who for the period of his appointment has all the powers and shall perform the duties in respect of the Chairman or the member for whom he is acting until such time as the office may be filled.

Travelling and living expenses

(7) The Chairman and each member of the Commission shall be paid such travelling and living expenses incurred by them in the performance of their duties under this Act as are determined by the Governor in Council. R.S., c. 398, s. 7.

Maximum increase

8 Except as provided in Section 9, for any rental period between the first day of January and the thirty-first day of December, both dates inclusive, in any year, no landlord shall charge a tenant an amount of rent which is more than the amount determined by adding to the rent lawfully charged for the same residential premises for the last rental period immediately preceding the first day of January, for which the residential premises were rented, the percentage increase determined by the Governor in Council which percentage increase shall be determined no later than the first day of September in the previous year. R.S., c. 398, s. 8.

Conditions for increase in excess of maximum

9 A landlord may increase the rent of residential premises in excess of the percentage increase authorized by Section 8 for the rental periods set forth in Section 8

(a) after first having given three months notice to the tenant, if any, of the residential premises;

(b) upon application to the residential tenancy officer at least two months before the date he wishes to increase the rent; and

(c) upon being authorized by an order or decision pursuant to either Section 10 or Section 15, as the case may be. R.S., c. 398, s. 9.

Review procedure by residential tenancy officer

10 (1) In reviewing any rent increase or in making a determination under Section 9 that requires the presence before him of either the landlord or the tenant, or both, the residential tenancy officer shall inform the landlord and the tenant of the review and adopt the cheapest and simplest method of conducting and carrying on the proceedings while at the same time ensuring that the landlord or the tenant, or both, have had an adequate opportunity of presenting material and making representations in their behalf.

Factors considered

(2) In determining the questions arising before him on an application, the residential tenancy officer shall consider

(a) any increase in rent for the residential premises which took effect on or before the thirty-first day of December, 1975;

(b) return on investment;

(c) whether or not the increase in rent sought by the landlord is necessary in order to prevent the landlord from being adversely affected or sustaining a financial loss in the operation of the building in which the residential premises are situate; and

(d) such other matters as may be prescribed by the regulations.

Decision

(3) After hearing the application, the residential tenancy officer may

(a) approve the amount of the increase sought by the landlord if he is satisfied that the effect of the increased costs and expenses justify the amount of the rent increase;

(b) order that the landlord reduce the amount of the rent increase to such lesser amount as he may specify;

(c) order the landlord to repay to the tenant rent paid in excess of the amount which he has fixed in his order under clause (b) or that such excess be set off by way of abatement of rent; or

(d) order the tenant to pay to the landlord any amount of money owing to him by reason of his decision,

and shall give written notice of his decision to the landlord and tenant affected. R.S., c. 398, s. 10.

Notice of rent increase

11 (1) Every landlord, prior to increasing the rent of a tenant, shall give three months notice of such rent increase to the tenant and deliver a copy of the notice to the Secretary to the Commission.

Form and content of notice

(2) The notice shall be in such form and contain such information as is determined by the Governor in Council by regulation. R.S., c. 398, s. 11.

Secretary finds rent increase in notice is excessive

12 (1) The Secretary to the Commission, upon receiving a copy of the notice referred to in Section 11, shall calculate the rent increase and if such rent increase is in excess of that authorized by this Act, the notice is deemed to be an application for increase of rent pursuant to Section 9 and the provisions of Section 10 shall apply to that deemed application.

Tenant believes rent increase in notice is excessive

(2) If a tenant is of the view that the true increase in rent is in excess of that authorized by this Act and within thirty days after receipt of the notice referred to in Section 11 so informs the residential tenancy officer, then the residential tenancy officer shall review the rent increase and the notice is deemed to be an application for increase of rent pursuant to Section 9 and the provisions of Section 10 shall apply to that deemed application. R.S., c. 398, s. 12.

Discontinued service deemed rent increase

13 For the purposes of this Act, unless the residential tenancy officer otherwise determines, where a landlord discontinues a service, privilege, accommodation or thing and such discontinuance results in a reduction of the tenants use and enjoyment of the residential premises, the value of such discontinued service, privilege, accommodation or thing shall be deemed to be a rent increase. R.S., c. 398, s. 13.

No charges for sublease or assignment

14 (1) No consideration greater than the rent that is lawfully charged by a landlord under this Act shall be charged for the sublease of residential premises and no tenant or landlord shall charge any consideration for the assignment of a tenancy agreement.

Maximum charge for actual expenses

(2) Notwithstanding subsection (1), a landlord may charge a sum not exceeding twenty-five dollars for expenses actually incurred in respect of a sublease or an assignment. R.S., c. 398, s. 14.

Right of review

15 (1) Any decision or order made pursuant to subsection (3) of Section 10 by the residential tenancy officer may be reviewed by the Rent Review Commission on its own initiative or at the request of the landlord or the tenant to whom the written notice of decision is required to be given by the residential tenancy officer pursuant to Section 10.

Procedure for request of review

(2) Where a landlord or tenant wishes to request a review, he shall

(a) prepare a notice in writing identifying the decision or order and the residential tenancy officer who made it; and

(b) cause the notice to be

within fifteen days after the decision or order was made.

Extension of time

(3) The Commission may, before or after the expiration of the period fixed by subsection (2), extend the time within which notice may be filed with the Commission or given to the landlord or tenant.

Notice where review initiated by Commission

(4) Where the Commission is acting on its own initiative, it shall give notice to the landlord and the tenant so as to enable them to have an adequate opportunity to present material and to make representation in their behalf.

Location of review

(5) Where a review is made pursuant to this Section, the Commission may conduct the review at a location situate within the area for which the residential tenancy officer who made the original review has responsibility.

Procedure and decision on review

(6) On a review, the Commission shall proceed as if it were conducting a review of the rent increase for the first time and after the review it may

(a) affirm the decision of the residential tenancy officer;

(b) make any other decision the residential tenancy officer is authorized to make under this Act; or

(c) where there is more than one residential premises in a real property determine the rent increase in reference to the other units and determine the rate of increase for all the units including the authority to determine a different rate of increase for different units,

and for such purposes the Commission may substitute its opinion for that of the residential tenancy officer.

Decision final

(7) The decision or order of the Commission under subsection (6) is final and not subject to appeal. R.S., c. 398, s. 15.

Obligation to pay rent continues during review

16 The fact that rent increase is under review by a residential tenancy officer or the Commission does not relieve the tenant of the obligation to pay rent. R.S., c. 398, s. 16.

Inquiry

17 The Chairman of the Commission may authorize any one of the commissioners to inquire into and report to the Commission upon any matter within the jurisdiction of the Commission or pending before it, and when so authorized he shall, for the purpose of taking evidence or obtaining information for such report, have all the powers of the Commission. R.S., c. 398, s. 17.

Powers, privileges, immunities

18 (1) The Commission and each member thereof has the powers, privileges and immunities of a commissioner under the Public Inquiries Act, including, but not so as to limit those powers, the power to summon and enforce the attendance of witnesses and compel them to give oral or written evidence on oath and to produce any documents and things which the Commission deems requisite to the full investigation of any matter within its jurisdiction.

Form and content and service of summons

(2) A summons issued under subsection (1) shall be in the form and contain such information as is determined by the Governor in Council by regulation and be served personally on the person summoned.

Evidence

(3) The Commission may receive and accept any evidence and information on oath, affidavit, or otherwise as in its discretion it may deem fit and proper, whether admissible as evidence in a court of law or not.

Procedure

(4) The Commission may determine its own procedure, but shall in every case give an opportunity to those persons properly before it to present information and evidence upon which it may make a decision. R.S., c. 398, s. 18.

Rules of procedure

19 (1) The Commission may make rules governing its procedure under this Act.

Regulations Act

(2) The exercise by the Commission of the powers set forth in subsection (1) shall be regulations within the meaning of the Regulations Act. R.S., c. 398, s. 19.

Contempt proceedings

20 In case of disobedience on the part of any person or persons to comply with any order of the Commission or any commissioner, or any subpoena or on the refusal of any witness to testify to any matter regarding which he may be interrogated before the Commission or any commissioner, it shall be the duty of the Trial Division of the Supreme Court, or a judge thereof, on application of the Commission, to compel obedience by attachment proceedings for contempt as in the case of disobedience of the requirements of a subpoena issued from such Court or a refusal to testify therein. R.S., c. 398, s. 20.

Depositions

21 The Commission may, in any investigation, cause the evidence of witnesses residing within or without the Province to be taken in the manner prescribed by law for like depositions in civil actions in the Supreme Court. R.S., c. 398, s. 21.

Incrimination

22 (1) A witness at a review shall be deemed to have objected to answer any question asked him upon the ground that his answer may tend to criminate him or may tend to establish his liability to civil proceedings at the instance of the Crown or of any person, and no answer given by a witness at a review shall be used or be receivable in evidence against him in any trial or other proceedings against him thereafter taking place, other than a prosecution for perjury in giving such evidence.

Duty to inform witness of right to object

(2) A witness shall be informed by the Commission of his right to object to answer any question under section 5 of the Canada Evidence Act. R.S., c. 398, s. 22.

Duty to furnish information

23 Every landlord and tenant shall furnish the Commission with such information as may be required, in the discretion of the Commission, to enable the Commission to achieve the intent and purpose of this Act. R.S., c. 398, s. 23.

Maintaining of order at review

24 The residential tenancy officer or the Commission, whichever is appropriate under the circumstances, may make such orders or give such directions at a review as it considers necessary for the maintenance of order at the review and, if any person disobeys or fails to comply with any such order or direction, the residential tenancy officer or the Commission may call for the assistance of any peace officer to enforce the order or direction, and every peace officer so called upon shall take such action as is necessary to enforce the order or direction and may use such force as is reasonably required for that purpose. R.S., c. 398, s. 24.

Certified copy of decision

25 A tenant who has requested a review of the rent increase or a landlord who has been affected by the request of the tenant or a landlord who has applied for an increase of rent in excess of that authorized by Section 8 shall be entitled to a certified copy of any decision or order of a residential tenancy officer or the Commission and such certified copy shall be prima facie evidence of the fact stated therein. R.S., c. 398, s. 25.

Appeal from Commission

26 (1) An appeal shall lie to the Appeal Division of the Supreme Court from any order or decision of the Commission upon any question as to its jurisdiction or upon any question of law, but such appeal can be taken only with leave of a judge of the said Court given upon an application presented to him within thirty days after the rendering of the decision and upon such terms as the judge may determine.

Notice of application for leave to appeal

(2) Notice of the application shall be given to the parties or their solicitor and to the Commission at least seven clear days before the hearing of the application. R.S., c. 398, s. 26.

Service on Commission of notice of appeal

27 (1) When leave to appeal has been granted, the appeal shall be brought by notice served on the Chairman or Vice-chairman of the Commission within ten days after the leave to appeal has been granted.

Content of notice

(2) The notice shall contain the names of the parties and the date of the order or decision appealed from.

Service on adverse party of notice of appeal

(3) After such notice has been filed and within such ten days, a copy of such notice shall be served upon the adverse party by the party appealing. R.S., c. 398, s. 27.

Stated case by Commission

28 (1) The Commission may of its own motion or upon the application of a landlord or a tenant, and upon such security being given as the Commission directs, state a case in writing for the opinion of the Appeal Division of the Supreme Court upon any question which in the opinion of the Commission is a question of law.

Stated case at request of Governor in Council

(2) A like reference may also be made at the request of the Governor in Council. R.S., c. 398, s. 28.

Hearing and decision

29 The Appeal Division of the Supreme Court shall hear and determine the question or questions of law arising thereon and remit the matter to the Commission with the opinion of the Court thereon. R.S., c. 398, s. 29.

Order may be made order of Court

30 (1) Any decision or order made by the Commission under this Act may be made a rule or order of the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia, and shall be enforced in a like manner as any rule, order, decree or judgment of such Court.

Procedure and effect

(2) To make such decision or order a rule or order of the Supreme Court, the Secretary to the Commission may make a certified copy of such decision or order, upon which shall be made the following indorsement, signed by the Chairman:

and the Secretary to the Commission may forward such certified copy, so endorsed to a prothonotary of such Court, who shall on receipt thereof enter the same as of record, and it shall thereupon become and be a rule or order of the Supreme Court and enforceable as any rule, order, decree or judgment thereof. R.S., c. 398, s. 30.

Varying order made order of Court

31 Whenever a decision or order of the Commission under this Act has been made a rule or order of the Supreme Court, any order or decision of the Commission rescinding or varying the same shall be deemed to rescind or vary such rule or order, and may in like manner be made a rule or order. R.S., c. 398, s. 31.

Certain information not required on face of order

32 It shall not be necessary that any order of the Commission shall show upon its face that any proceeding or notice was had or given, or any circumstances existed necessary to give it jurisdiction to make such order. R.S., c. 398, s. 32.

Order of tenancy officer is order of Commission

33 The order or decision of a residential tenancy officer that has been confirmed by the Commission even though no review thereof has been requested shall be a decision or order of the Commission. R.S., c. 398, s. 33.

Books and records

34 (1) Every landlord shall keep adequate books and records for the purposes of this Act and if the books or records kept by a landlord are in the opinion of the Commission inadequate for those purposes, the Commission may prescribe the books and records to be kept by that landlord.

Right of entry and seizure

(2) For the purpose of a review under this Act, the Commission or any person authorized by it for the purpose may, subject to an order under subsections (4) and (5), enter any land for the purposes of examining any residential premises, books, records, writings or other documents related to the review and

(a) may require the owner, occupier or person in charge of the land to give him all reasonable assistance in connection with his examination and to answer proper questions relating to the examination, and, for those purposes, require the owner, occupier or person in charge of the land to attend at the land with him; and

(b) if, during an examination it appears to him that this Act has been or is being contravened, may seize and take away any books, records, writings or other documents and retain them until their production in any proceeding under this Act is required.

Protection of information

(3) Except with the consent of the person to whom the information relates, neither the Commission nor any authorized person shall

(a) knowingly communicate, or allow to be communicated, to any person any information obtained by or on behalf of the Commission under this Section; or

(b) knowingly allow any person to inspect, or to have access to, any information obtained by or on behalf of the Commission under this Section.

Order for entry and examination

(4) A county court judge may, upon ex parte application, make an order authorizing the Commission, or a person authorized by it for the purpose, to enter any land situated in the county for the purposes of examining any residential premises, books, records, writings or other documents relating to a review under this Act.

Condition for order

(5) No order shall be made under subsection (4) unless the judge is satisfied that the entry and examination is reasonable and necessary.

Production or evidence of privileged information

(6) Notwithstanding any other Act or law, no minister of the Crown, member of the Commission or person employed in the administration or enforcement of this Act shall be required, in connection with any legal proceedings, to give evidence relating to any information that is privileged under subsection (3) or to produce any statement or other writing containing such information.

Subsection (3) does not apply

(7) Subsection (3) does not apply in respect of proceedings before any court of law relating to the administration or enforcement of this Act. R.S., c. 398, s. 34.

Joint review where common interest

35 Where more than one landlord or tenant has a common interest in respect of a request for a review of rent or an application for an increase of rent in excess of that authorized by Section 8, a residential tenancy officer or the Commission, whichever is appropriate in the circumstances, may review the rent increases as if they were one request. R.S., c. 398, s. 35.

Release of document after review

36 (1) Documents and things produced or submitted at a review shall, upon the request of the person who produced them, be released to him by the Commission within a reasonable time after the matter in issue has been fully determined.

Admissibility of copy

(2) Where the Commission is satisfied as to their authenticity, a copy of a document or other thing may be admitted as evidence at a review.

Use of photocopy of document

(3) Where a document has been filed in evidence at a review, the Commission may, or the person producing it or entitled to it may with the leave of the Commission, cause the document to be photocopied and the Commission may authorize the photocopy to be filed in evidence in the place of the document filed and release the document filed, or may furnish to the person producing it or the person entitled to it a photocopy of the document filed certified by a member of the Commission.

Admissibility of certified copy

(4) A document purporting to be a copy of a document filed in evidence at a review, certified to be a true copy thereof by a member of the Commission, is admissible in evidence in proceedings in which the document is admissible as evidence of the document. R.S., c. 398, s. 36.

Act does not apply

37 This Act does not apply to

(a) residential premises which are part of a property used and rented to the same person for both residential and commercial purposes and which has not more than one residential premises unit in it;

(b) residential premises as may from time to time be designated by the Governor in Council by regulations, either individually, by group, by class or by some common distinguishing denominator. R.S., c. 398, s. 37.

Regulations

38 (1) The Governor in Council may make regulations

(a) prescribing the percentage amount in respect of rent increases for the purposes of Section 8;

(b) prescribing forms and providing for their use;

(c) designating residential premises to which this Act does not apply, either individually, by group, by class or by some common or distinguishing denominator;

(d) designating persons who may execute or certify forms;

(e) requiring a municipality, town or city to provide the Commission with such information from its records and rolls as is required in the discretion of the Commission to enable the Commission to carry out its duties;

(f) defining any word or expression used in this Act not defined in this Act;

(g) respecting any matter necessary or advisable to carry out effectively the intent and purposes of this Act.

Regulations Act

(2) The exercise by the Governor in Council of the authority set forth in subsection (1) shall be regulations within the meaning of the Regulations Act. R.S., c. 398, s. 38.

Offence and penalty

39 (1) Every person who contravenes a provision of this Act or the regulations or a decision or an order issued pursuant to this Act or the regulations shall be guilty of an offence and shall be liable to conviction upon summary proceeding to a fine not exceeding two thousand dollars.

Additional penalty where excessive rent

(2) Notwithstanding subsection (1) every landlord who collects rent in excess of the rent authorized by this Act or in excess of the amount authorized by a decision or order of a residential tenancy officer or the Commission shall in addition to the penalty provided by subsection (1) be subject to a fine which shall be twenty-five per cent of the rental he charged for each unit for which he collected rent. R.S., c. 398, s. 39.

Administration expenses

40 The money required for the administration of this Act shall be paid out of money appropriated therefor by the Legislature. R.S., c. 398, s. 40.

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