Real Estate

Nova Scotia adds stricter short-term rental rules to its province-wide registry

Registration required sign Photo by ducu59us/Shutterstock

New amendments are coming to Nova Scotia’s provincial short-term rental registration system this spring, the province announced

Three major revisions to the act were approved in April 2022 including:

  1. The removal of a registration exemption for short-term rentals operated in primary residences (meaning single-room rentals and bed-and-breakfast style operations must now register annually).
  2. Short-term rental owners are now required to include their registration number in their online listings. 
  3. All rental owners will have to attest to their property’s compliance with municipal land-use bylaws when registering.

Anna Moran, director of research, planning, and decision support at the department of communities, culture, tourism, and heritage, says these changes will help the province and municipalities get a better understanding of the short-term rental situation in Nova Scotia. “The intent of the amendments is to support us—the province—to gather comprehensive data that we can then give to municipalities to help them with their land-use bylaws,” she says.  

Moran says these changes were introduced in response to the demands of municipal leaders. “What we were hearing from municipalities was ‘you don’t require primary residences to register—that’s an issue for us. We’re going to set up our own registry.’ Nobody wants that kind of duplication of effort,” she says. 

Nova Scotia became one of the first provinces in Canada (after Prince Edward Island) to regulate short-term rentals at a provincial level when they introduced the Tourist Accommodation Registration Act in the spring of 2020.

Moran says the act established the provincial registry for short-term rentals to assist local governments in enforcing their own regulations. “What municipalities asked us for is support to get a clear picture of the short-term rental situation in their communities,” says Moran.

The registration act requires that every short-term rental property owner register with the Tourist Accommodations Registry annually. The cost of registration depends on the size of the accommodation—for properties with one to four bedrooms, the fee is $50; for properties with five or more bedrooms, the fee is $150. 

The act defines short-term rentals as any operation with a fixed roof being rented to the public for less than 28 days at a time. This means the act applies to a broad range of accommodations including hotels, motels, apartments, homes, vacation properties, and more, says Moran. 

The province is emphasizing an education-first approach to enforcement, working with hosting sites to ensure all listings are in compliance with the provincial regulations, says Moran. However, the province can also enforce fines starting at $1,000 per day, capped at a maximum of $7,500 annually, for rental owners who do not comply with the act. To date, just over 1500 accommodation providers have registered with Nova Scotia. Rental owners are required to register with the province through their online portal by April 1, 2023.

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