Extending Nova Scotia’s temporary rent control program, which is currently tied to the COVID state of emergency, is not off the table for new housing minister and landlord John Lohr.
The Kings North MLA and newly-sworn-in minister says the PC government has not ruled out the possibility of an extension to rent control, which is slated to end February 1, 2022 or when the province calls off the state of emergency.
“We’re keeping our options open and looking at what potential solutions are. I’m very concerned about what I think are egregious rent increases,” Lohr told reporters following a Thursday meeting of the province’s brand-new cabinet.
Lohr says he’s been a landlord all his adult life, and is “a little bit disappointed” to hear of massive rent-increase notices.
When asked how much rent has increased at his own properties, Lohr said he doesn’t know.
“It’s a good question. I was never actively involved in that part of it, so I can’t say [how much rent has increased]. But not much.”
Premier Tim Houston has consistently opposed rent control, saying that a lack of supply is to blame for the housing crisis. When asked in a COVID briefing why his government intends to halt rent control before Nova Scotia’s housing stock has increased, Houston answered with a question of his own: “What does that do to those that were thinking about building? What I want is more housing stock in this province,” he said. “And we don't want to do something in the interim, that gets us away from achieving the goal that we need to achieve.”
NDP leader Gary Burrill, who campaigned largely on rent control, says he remains concerned about the PC government’s approach to housing. He says Lohr being a landlord himself “isn’t the major issue” at play.
“This whole discussion is supply, supply, supply, and no one disagrees. But what’s going to happen with all those people who are going to face the dramatic, unaffordable rent increases before the supply is there? That’s the missing component, that’s the real spot of non-comprehension from the Conservative position,” Burrill said at a media availability Thursday.
“It’s as if they thought that somehow while the issue of [housing] supply is being addressed, landlords will hold off on submitting dramatic rent increases. We know this is not the case.”