Metro News: New survey suggests Nova Scotians growing frustrated with landlords, rental units

Nova Scotia ACORN

Posted July 4, 2017

A new survey suggests many renters across the province are frustrated with their landlords.
Nova Scotians with incomes between $20,000 and $60,000 took part in a province-wide online tenants survey in May and June conducted by ACORN.
Jonethan Brigley, chair of the Dartmouth chapter of ACORN, said he wasn’t surprised to see so much negative feedback from the 346 participants, including 67 per cent of those who find it hard to get work done on their building when they ask for it.
But he noted some of the results were shocking.
“Over 69 per cent of the people who answered lived in buildings that weren’t accessible to those with disabilities, but have people with disabilities living in them,” he said.
Additionally, he said over one third of respondents noted their units lacked proper heat in the winter.
Although many tenants know their rights and the living conditions they are entitled to when signing a lease, Brigley said the biggest problem is not knowing the proper steps to take when an issue does arise.
Of those surveyed, he said only 15 per cent answered they had ever spoken to the tenancy board, known in Nova Scotia as the Residential Tenancies Program.  
“People go through the tenancy board if they have a relationship issue with their landlord, if there is a physical issue with the building, that goes through 311, and no one knows the difference between the two,” he said.
In fact, Brigley said almost half of the people surveyed were unaware of Halifax’s municipal services and information line, 311, or the M200 bylaw, respecting minimum standards for residential occupancies, and the role it plays when a tenant launches a complaint about the physical status of a rental unit.
“311 would send an inspector out to check the issue in question, that is a municipal issue,” he said.
Going forward Brigley hopes the ACORN survey will help spark much-needed conversations.
“We’re going to be using these results to show all the stakeholders, the city, the tenants themselves, that we know Nova Scotia wants to take a step forward into fixing this. Fixing the old bylaw, getting all the buildings up to code, and having regular non-biased inspections.”
A press release by ACORN about the survey results was released on the weekend, but Brigley said a detailed report was not yet available.
ACORN will be holding an information meeting at the Dartmouth North Community Centre July 31, starting at 6 p.m. to discuss the results of the survey and provide information to tenants.
Article by Nicole Gnazdowsky for Metro News