Canada’s Landlords Grapple With Legalized Marijuana

by Chris on April 24, 2017

Canada’s federal government is poised to legalize recreational marijuana, which has landlords there wondering how the move will affect them. While the measure still must pass more legislative hurdles, many are predicting that marijuana will become legal by July, 2018.

While the marijuana bill is creating a big sensation, it is woefully short on details. The proposal allows residents over the age of 18 to grow four marijuana plants at home. What it doesn’t address is whether landlords will be forced to allow recreational marijuana in rental properties.

If the measure passes, landlords face a long list of concerns:

The pungent smell and secondhand smoke bother other tenants;
Smoking increases the risks of fire. That risk grows if tenants distill the plants into a popular wax form using combustible fluids;
Tenants who smoke are more likely to disable smoke alarms;
It is unclear if damage from marijuana is covered by insurance;
Growing plants in visible locations like balconies increases the risk of theft;
Houseplants can cause water damage;
Grow lights and increased heat can cause property damage, generate mould or trigger allergies.

Landlord associations, including the Professional Property Managers Association in Manitoba, Landlords B.C., Quebec Landlords Association and the Canadian Federation of Apartment Associations already have spoken out about these and other concerns, and are asking for the right to ban tenants from growing or smoking marijuana in rental properties.

What Can Landlords Do?

It is impossible to predict whether lawmakers will provide landlords the right to manage marijuana in rental properties. So far, there has been little sympathy for landlords when tenants use medical marijuana in apartments, and with the large number of residents who rent, demographics don’t help. At the same time, with vacancy rates so low and affordable rental housing so illusive, governments may be willing to address the concerns of private landlords.

Nothing is finalized at this juncture, and provinces may be allowed to add restrictions, so landlords who are concerned about this issue still have time to act. One of the best ways to make a difference is to join and support your local landlord association. Landlords are most successful when presenting a united front, and these associations likely have the legal resources needed to make your voice heard.

If the measure does pass:

Expect an increase in marijuana use, including tenants growing plants, before the law takes effect. It is important to keep tabs on tenants so that they are following the law during the implementation period; and,

Many tenants won’t understand the nuances of the law — specific restrictions that might apply, as well as the landlord’s rights. Be prepared to educate tenants as to the rules and make sure they understand their responsibilities. Develop your rules as quickly as possible. Your local landlord association can assist you with this. Chances are, any restrictions on marijuana use will need to be included in the tenancy agreement; otherwise, the landlord may have to wait it out until the tenant moves on.

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Disclaimer: The information provided in this post in not intended to be construed as legal advice, nor should it be considered a substitute for obtaining individual legal counsel or consulting your local, state, federal or provincial tenancy laws.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Beryl Taylor April 26, 2017 at 9:59 am

Thank you for addressing this issue. Helpful and mind provoking.

Marv Steier April 27, 2017 at 8:52 am

I believe that if you have a no smoking policy, tenants cannot smoke marijuana in the rental. It is smoking! I will have a no plant policy in my lease from hereon in. NO PLANTS! Flowers are different than plants. NO PLANTS. If you treat everyone the same, then you should not be seen as discriminatory. As Chris stated in the article, there is alot that the Governments need to clarify and work through here.
As a landlord, I will stipulate no smoking and no plants.
SITE INSPECTIONS; Many landlords do not conduct site inspections! This is one of the single most important factors to mitigating risk of damaged rental property and rental income loss.

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