Land­lords seek rules on pot use, cul­ti­va­tion

Ottawa Citizen - - CANADA - Natalie WoNg

TORONTO • The le­gal­iza­tion of cannabis — ex­pected in July — is cre­at­ing a night­mare for Canada’s land­lords.

Apart­ment own­ers are con­cerned about safety and po­ten­tial dam­age to their build­ings if ten­ants grow plants and smoke in their units. Land­lords are lob­by­ing pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ments for leg­is­la­tion that would ban pot use in rental units or al­low them to add re­stric­tions to lease agree­ments.

“We’re ham­mer­ing away at this pretty tire­lessly,” said David Hut­niak, chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer of Land­lord B.C. “Can you imag­ine you’re liv­ing in a 100-unit apart­ment and, in the­ory, there could be 100 grow ops in that thing? I mean, that’s ridicu­lous.”

Cannabis stocks have jumped and busi­nesses are primed to cash in. Yet fed­eral reg­u­la­tions on re­cre­ational use of the drug are still be­ing worked out. Pro­pos­als in­clude al­low­ing peo­ple to smoke in pri­vate res­i­dences and to grow as many as four plants per rental unit. Provinces can set rules, in­clud­ing age lim­its for pos­ses­sion and whether land­lords can re­strict use on their prop­er­ties.

One rea­son land­lords don’t want ten­ants light­ing up is many rental build­ings are fairly old, so “smoke and smells are eas­ily trans­mit­ted through hall­ways be­tween units” and can dis­turb oth­ers who don’t want to par­take, said John Dickie, pres­i­dent of the Cana­dian Fed­er­a­tion of Apart­ment As­so­ci­a­tions.

Grow­ing pot re­quires cer­tain hu­mid­ity lev­els that may dam­age apart­ment walls, and the elec­tri­cal wires re­quired to run the op­er­a­tion can start fires, said Hut­niak. Bud­ding plants also give off a pun­gent aroma.

Fail­ing to im­ple­ment reg­u­la­tions that al­low land­lords to en­sure smoke-free, growfree units could lead to higher rents, said Wil­liam Blake, spokesman for the On­tario Land­lords As­so­ci­a­tion.

Some provinces block land­lords from ex­tract­ing dam­age de­posits from ten­ants, said Blake, who once spent more than $5,000 to clear the smell from a mar­i­juana smoker’s unit.

“This is not a po­lit­i­cal is­sue for us — we care about tak­ing care of our ten­ants and keep­ing costs low. When we have to pay out thou­sands of dol­lars, land­lords will want to raise the rents for the next ten­ants.”

Some provinces seem more in­clined to con­sider land­lords’ con­cerns than oth­ers. A rep­re­sen­ta­tive for B.C.’s gov­ern­ment said reg­u­lat­ing weed con­sump­tion and cul­ti­va­tion are among key pol­icy ar­eas the prov­ince is con­sid­er­ing. In con­trast, On­tario said it has no plans to change its rental-hous­ing leg­is­la­tion, which gives ten­ants the right to “rea­son­able en­joy­ment” of their homes, yet al­lows for evic­tion if they cause dam­age.

In Que­bec, apart­ment leases that pro­hibit to­bacco smok­ing may also ap­ply to mar­i­juana, ac­cord­ing to a state­ment from the prov­ince. Saskatchewan has in­tro­duced an amend­ment per­mit­ting apart­ment own­ers to re­strict pot use.


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