Thu. May 19th, 2022

A ceiling on house increases in Nova Scotia will last as long as the state of emergency for public health exists, but Prime Minister Tim Houston does not know how long it will last.

The ceiling limiting rent increases to two percent was brought in November last year along with a ban on so-called renovations by the former Liberal government in the face of a housing crisis. At the time, its existence was linked to the expiration of the state of emergency for public health or February 1, 2022, whichever comes first.

Houston told reporters Thursday that the ceiling will be there as long as the state of emergency is in place.

“I have not made any decision to separate the two things,” he said.

The opposition demands clarity

What’s harder to predict is how long the state of emergency will remain in place, something Houston said will be dictated by the province’s COVID-19 vaccination rate and epidemiology.

“The pandemic has proven very unpredictable,” Houston said.

This unpredictability means Houston could not say whether the state of emergency, which has been renewed every two weeks since the introduction at the start of the pandemic, will extend beyond February.

“We’re all optimistic that this will end sooner rather than later – it’s exhausting – but I do not know when it may be,” he said.

NDP leader Gary Burrill said the prime minister needs to be clearer so people know if large rent increases are threatening.

“The current executive order is very aware that the rent capital, rent control, will end on February 1 next year – state of emergency or no state of emergency,” he told reporters.

“It’s a serious matter. What [the premier] it is, in fact, saying: ‘From our point of view, we are prepared to take into account a situation where the astronomical rent increases held on hold by the current rent could be implemented in the death center next winter. ‘”

NDP leader Gary Burrill speaks to journalists outside Province House. Burrill urged Houston to be clearer so renters can be prepared for possible rent increases, potentially in the middle of winter. (Paul Poirier / CBC)

In a statement, Liberal leader Iain Rankin called on the Tories to pass legislation during the legislature’s fall meeting, which begins Tuesday, to provide protection to tenants heading into the winter months.

“Until the government addresses the shortage of housing and apartments in Nova Scotia, tenants need the security that rent control provides,” he said.

Although the Tories have said they do not believe rent control is the solution to the housing crisis, Houston and Housing Secretary John Lohr have been shown to soften the idea of ​​keeping it longer to act as a bridge until housing stock can be increased to necessary levels.

Looking for solutions

Lohr is scheduled to meet with members of the Nova Scotia Affordable Housing Commission, which in May last year issued a report with 17 recommendations. At the time of this report, the group did not support an extension of the rent control beyond February.

“I’m interested in their comments on … how they see the landscape changing since May,” Lohr told reporters after a cabinet meeting.

Lohr said he hopes to get details on the government’s plans for housing soon.

Although he can not assure people that the state of emergency will go beyond February, Houston said his government feels it is urgent to find solutions to the housing crisis.

“These solutions will be multifaceted and we are very focused on making sure these are solutions that work,” he said.

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