Published on January 16th, 2014 | by Sima Sahar Zerehi

Your Rights As A Tenant


Many people don’t know their rights as tenants, says Evan Coole. He leads ACORN Canada, a national organization of low-income families.

“When you get crisis situations that are caused by extreme weather, Access Nova Scotia’s provincial Residential Tenancy Act can be slow to respond,” he says.

But spokesperson for Services Nova Scotia, Tracy Barron, says dispute resolution can be sped up if there are issues of health and safety. The process begins with tenants filing a complaint, followed by a hearing. The minimum length of time to schedule a hearing is five days.

Low-income tenants who have problems paying utility bills can be referred to the Nova Scotia Power low-income advocate, the province’s heating assistance rebate program, or the Good Neighbour Energy Fund run by the Salvation Army.

Tenants concerned with building conditions should contact the city, says Dalhousie Legal Aid worker Megan Deveaux.

City inspectors can also be sent to investigate heating concerns if complaints are made. Municipal bylaw M-100 requires minimum housing temperatures.

“We usually get contacted by tenants when the usual channels have failed,” says Coole. “We’ll often encourage people to join the organization because coming together as a group means you have more strength.”

When negotiation and advocacy fails, ACORN uses the media to attract public attention to a case, says Coole.

To Contact Dalhousie Legal Aid Services visit

To learn more about ACORN go to

To contact Access Nova Scotia’s residential tenancies services visit

To learn about HRMs Office of the Municipal Clerk visit

To visit Dalhousie Legal Aid visit

Originally published in the Halifax Commoner newspaper at

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About the Author

is a professor, journalist, new media buff, photographer in training, Unifor member & immigration/labour/human rights activist who really wants to be an artist.

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