Cannabis Laws and How They Affect Your Rental Property

With the legalization of Cannabis for recreational use this past year in Canada, landlords have wondered how this may affect their tenants activity and rental property safety and protection.  There is fear that now that the laws do not prohibit use of cannabis, it will be smoked, vaped, and grown in rental properties without constraint.  While this fear is valid and requires thought, analysis, and preparation, there are options and safeguards to protect landlords and their investments.

The reality of tenancy is that you do not have all the options you would in ownership.  In the same way a landlord may not allow smoking or may prohibit pets, the use and growth of cannabis in a rental property is also discretionary and may be denied.  Some tenants may think that because the government has legalized cannabis, they have these rights and this is where the careful landlord must educate and reinforce expectations and lease requirements.

Within the structure of a well formed lease agreement, there are restrictions like no smoking/vaping, no property alterations, and no illegal activity.  While cannabis use is no longer covered by the latter, clauses protecting against smoking any substance indoors still protect the landlord.  Landlords do need to be aware that similar to smoking cigarettes, pipes, or cigars, the use of cannabis outside the property can not be legally prohibited.  The greatest value for the rental property owner is within the four walls of the property and luckily we are able to safely and legally protect this space.

Leading up to and in the few months that cannabis has been legal, tenants have been communicated with and reminded that current rules still apply and that no smoking, vaping, or growing of cannabis is acceptable without prior approval.  There has been very little push back and in general tenants understand the situation.  For EMC Property Management, our approach to the new laws is to educate, remind, and then enforce as needed.  

It is also important to monitor rental properties on a regular basis.  We typically perform two visits per year to ensure that not only major maintenance items are addressed, but so that tenants know that their landlord is keeping an eye on property care and enforcing expectations.  I recall an applicant who vanished the moment I mentioned our regular property inspections.  It is likely there was a plan to abuse the property in some way and this dissuaded such activity.

There will always be tenants who do not follow the terms of their lease and/or the Residential Tenancies Act of AB, but the careful landlord can minimize the potential for issues 99% of the time by setting, reinforcing, and ultimately enforcing expectations and requirements.  

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