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Short-Term rentals in Nova Scotia: regulations in 2023

By Nathan Guss |5 min|May 2023

New regulations governing short-term rentals came into effect in Nova Scotia on April 1, 2023. Read on to learn how to register your accommodation and comply with local and provincial regulations.

Are you considering renting out your Nova Scotia property on a short-term rental platform? While the rise of these platforms has made hosting and earning extra income easier than ever, it’s important to understand the rules. That way, you will ensure your guests’ safety and comfort and protect the community and housing market. Here’s what you need to know about short-term rentals in Nova Scotia.

What are short-term rentals?

The province defines short-term rentals as roofed tourist accommodations provided for 28 days or less. This includes traditional lodging, such as hotels, motels, inns, and bed and breakfasts along with residential homes, condos and apartments. Unroofed accommodations, such as campsites, don’t need to be registered.

How do I become a short-term rental host?

All short-term rental operators in Nova Scotia must register their property annually with the Tourist Accommodations Registry by April 1. Primary residences used as short-term rentals—defined as where you live as an owner or tenant and the address used for bills, identification, taxes and insurance—must now be registered.

How do I register?

You can register online through the Tourist Accommodations Registry. You will be required to indicate whether the unit is your primary residence. You must register each accommodation location with a different civic address. The Registry provides a different registration number for each location. The site allows you to register more than one unit at the same time.

Once you submit your completed registration, you will receive an email receipt and registration number. Keep this number for your records: you must include it in all listings on booking platforms. The registration is valid from April 1 of the current year to March 31 of the following year. The registration fee is $50 for properties with 1 to 4 bedrooms and $150 for those with 5 or more bedrooms.

What if I’m buying or selling a registered property?

If you’re selling a registered property, you can’t transfer the registration to the new owner. The new owner will need to register the property before operating it as a short-term rental. If you buy a registered property, you’ll need to register before hosting.

Are there local regulations for short-term housing?

The province allows municipalities to create their own bylaws governing short-term rentals. Before you make any plans to rent a property, check whether your local government has any rules. In Nova Scotia, the regulation of short-term rentals is still in the developmental phase, and most municipalities have yet to create specific bylaws. Currently, Halifax and Lunenburg are among the only cities with regulations for short-term rentals. As the popularity of short-term rentals continues to grow, it’s likely that more municipalities will develop regulations to manage the industry, so stay on the lookout for any changes.

Halifax

Starting September 1, 2023, Halifax’s new regulations will limit the number of short-term rentals available in the city. In residential areas, only an owner’s primary residence can be rented out on a short-term basis. This means that backyard units and secondary suites can only be rented as traditional long-term rentals.

The same limits on the number of bedrooms and parking spaces for regular bed and breakfasts will also apply to short-term rentals. Additionally, short-term rental units must either they be in the owner’s primary residence if they’re located in a residential area or in a commercial zone where hotels already exist.

Lunenburg

Lunenburg also has specific regulations for short-term accommodation. Any building intended for sleeping accommodation must have a valid building permit prior to construction or conversion. This applies to storage buildings converted to short-term rental units. Additionally, you must obtain a valid occupancy permit before the space can be used for short-term rentals.

If you’re interested in becoming a short-term rental host in Nova Scotia, it’s crucial to understand provincial and local regulations. By registering your property and complying with municipal bylaws, you can operate your short-term rental legally and responsibly while contributing to Nova Scotia’s tourism industry. Best of luck with your project!

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