‘Un­charted ter­ri­tory’

Pot le­gal­iza­tion con­tains a lot of un­cer­tain­ties for land­lords

North Bay Nugget - - FRONT PAGE - Gord Young

Mar­i­juana be­comes le­gal is just a few weeks, yet lo­cal land­lords still have ques­tions about how to deal with ten­ants who smoke or grow cannabis in their units.

About 40 lo­cal land­lords heard from a panel of ex­perts in North Bay Wed­nes­day about the in­com­ing rules sur­round­ing recre­ational cannabis, which be­comes le­gal on Oct. 17.

But even they, in­clud­ing po­lice and fire of­fi­cials, an in­sur­ance ad­juster and para­le­gal, say the im­pli­ca­tions of le­gal pot re­mains murky ter­ri­tory. And it’s go­ing to take some time to weed out an­swers, they say.

When it comes to in­sur­ance, for in­stance, the in­for­ma­tion ses­sion, which was hosted by the Near North Land­lords As­so­ci­a­tion, heard that the in­dus­try is hes­i­tant at this point to of­fer re­lated cov­er­age.

Bob Palan­gio, of Op­ti­mum In­sur­ance, told the meet­ing most in­sur­ers cur­rently have strict word­ing within their poli­cies that refuse cov­er­age for dam­ages re­lated to cannabis, whether it’s mold caused by hu­mid­ity from plants or fire dam­age from grow lights or other re­lated ac­tiv­i­ties.

With le­gal­iza­tion, he said that’s likely to change, sug­gest­ing providers are apt to de­velop pack­ages that will of­fer cov­er­age for such risks. But Palan­gio said the in­dus­try just isn’t there yet.

Cannabis use will be re­stricted un­der the law to pri­vate res­i­dences – in­clud­ing the out­door space of a home – as well as rental units and bal­conies. For multi-unit build­ings like apart­ments or con­dos, the prov­ince says it will de­pend on the build­ing’s rules or ten­ant lease agree­ments.

The law will also al­low peo­ple to grow up to four plants per res­i­dence.

Land­lords will be able to ban smok­ing and grow­ing mar­i­juana in rental units for new leases – sim­i­lar to what’s in place now for to­bacco use. But the prov­ince’s ten­ancy laws make it il­le­gal to change a lease be­fore it ends.

John Wil­son, pres­i­dent of the land­lord’s as­so­ci­a­tion, said many mem­bers, in­clud­ing him­self, how­ever, have been in­clud­ing such pro­hi­bi­tions against mar­i­juana in new leases for the past 18 months.

he said le­gal weed isn’t here yet and land­lords don’t re­ally know what to ex­pect. but he said Wed­nes­day’s in­for­ma­tion ses­sion was aimed at help­ing them get pre­pared.

“The more we know and the more we know up front, the bet­ter pro­tected we will be,” he said, not­ing con­cerns in­clude in­creased elec­tric­ity costs re­lated to ten­ants grow­ing mar­i­juana in their apart­ments, along with re­lated fire haz­ards from lights and ex­ten­sion cords. he said land­lords are also wor­ried about the im­pact pot smok­ing will have on other ten­ants in rental prop­er­ties.

From a le­gal per­spec­tive, para­le­gal Jen­nifer sch­midt said land­lords will be “nav­i­gat­ing un­charted ter­ri­tory.”

she said land­lords will be re­quired to strike a bal­ance be­tween their obli­ga­tions to all ten­ants, not­ing that will in­clude com­pli­ance un­der the on­tario hu­man rights Code. In some cases, she said, it may take court rul­ings and prece­dents be­fore the waters are clear. deputy Fire Chief mike bechard told the meet­ing “the Fire Code does not reg­u­late life­style.”

but he said the fire depart­ment does have the power to ad­dress safety is­sues that may be as­so­ci­ated with pot le­gal­iza­tion.

he pointed to the abil­ity to is­sue fines to ten­ants who tam­per with or dis­able smoke de­tec­tors. and bechard said the depart­ment can step in to pre­vent ten­ants from cre­at­ing cannabis oil, which is a high fire risk due to the use of sol­vents such as bu­tane. In ad­di­tion, he said the depart­ment can put a stop to the un­safe use of ex­ten­sion cords.

deputy po­lice Chief scott Tod there are still more ques­tion than an­swers as to how the pot leg­is­la­tion will be ap­plied. and, like land­lords, he said po­lice also have many con­cerns.

Tod pointed to is­sue such as road safety, youth di­ver­sion and those sur­round­ing hu­man re­sources and em­ployee use of mar­i­juana.

“These are ques­tion that we don’t have an­swers to right now,” he said.

Gord Young/the Nugget

The Near North Land­lords As­so­ci­a­tion hosted a panel of lo­cal ex­perts who spoke Wed­nes­day at Ecole sec­ondaire publique Odyssee about the in­com­ing cannabis leg­is­la­tion. The panel in­cluded po­lice and fire of­fi­cials, an in­sur­ance ad­juster, doc­tor and para­le­gal.

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