BC Marijuana Laws Impact Landlords

The upcoming legalization of recreational marijuana is creating concerns for landlords, who are afraid that tenants who grow and smoke cannabis could cause damage to suites, disturb other tenants, and potentially increase the risk for fires. These are valid concerns that have nothing to do with being pro- or anti-legalization, they are about the ability of landlords to protect their assets.

The Province introduced legislation in May 2018 (Bill 30) that addressed these concerns with amendments to the Residential Tenancy Act. A new section of the Act, Section 21.1, includes retro-active protections for landlords and tenants. However, the retro-active rules will only apply to tenancy agreements that existed before the Bill was passed into law.

Landlords who wish to prohibit new tenants from smoking or growing cannabis in their units, will have to amend the terms of their tenancy agreements to specifically include a ban on smoking and growing pot.

Smoking marijuana in rental units

If your building has a “no smoking” policy that prohibits or limits the use of tobacco, that policy is considered to prohibit the use of cannabis in the same manner. In other words, for existing tenants, “no smoking” is “no smoking”.

Any new tenancy agreements entered into after Section 21.1 becomes law, must include a specific prohibition on smoking cannabis, or a broad prohibition that bans the smoking and vaping of all combustible materials. Here at Transpacific, we have changed our leases to include no smoking of tobacco or tobacco-related products, or marijuana, or vaping.

If you do allow smoking, or have no rules around it, then cannabis smoking is considered to be allowed.

Remember, if your tenant requires marijuana for medical purposes, they can get their dose via other delivery methods: tinctures, patches, sprays and edibles, etc.

Smoking in common areas

There is a clear ban on the smoking and vaping of cannabis in common areas within an apartment building, just as there is against smoking tobacco.

Growing marijuana in rental units

Homeowners can legally grow up to four marijuana plants in their home, but landlords are protected by a retro-active prohibition on the growing, cultivation, and harvest of cannabis in rental units, if the tenancy agreement was signed before Section 21.1 comes into effect.

New tenancies are not included in the prohibition. To prohibit the growing of cannabis in your rental property, you need to include terms in your agreement that specifically prohibit it. Even though cultivation may be legal, we recommend that you do this for the following reasons:

  1. To grow well, marijuana plants require high humidity and warmth and that can become a breeding ground for mould in your unit.
  2. Marijuana cultivation requires strong lighting, which uses large amounts of electricity.
  3. The high-wattage lighting presents a possible fire hazard if it isn’t carefully set up and supervised. Likewise, tenants who dry their marijuana in the oven may increase the risk of fires.
  4. When marijuana plants flower, they give off a strong odour that can be repellent to other tenants, and future tenants.
  5. Landlords have no way of ensuring that the number of plants that tenants are growing remains legal at all times.
  6. Your insurance may not cover marijuana-related damage.
Remember, new tenancies are not included in the ban

While tenancy agreements that were entered into prior to Section 21.1 becoming law are covered, (as long as you had a “no smoking” policy in place), any new tenancy agreements will have to be amended to include a specific ban on the smoking, vaping, and growing of cannabis.

Questions? We stay up-to-date on new legislation so you don’t have to! Give us a call at 604 873 8591.

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