Real Estate

Joint tenancy: condo boards and Bill C-45

By Staff

With recreational marijuana slated to become legal next spring, condominium corporations should start thinking about what steps they’ll need to take to ensure harmony among residents with diverging viewpoints, Toronto real estate lawyer Anar Dewshi tells

One of the issues that will challenge condo boards when Bill C-45 (the cannabis act) becomes law is how to resolve conflicts around the rights of people to grow pot plants in their homes, says Dewshi, principal of Dewshi Law Practice.

“With the advent of the federal government legalizing marijuana, of particular interest to condominium corporations will be that adults aged 18 and older would be allowed to grow up to four cannabis plants for each residence, provided the plants don’t exceed one metre in height,” she says.

Some organizations are already fighting back.

The Canadian Federation of Apartment Associations is lobbying the government to change the proposed marijuana legalization and prohibit people from growing plants in rented homes or multi-unit buildings, reports CBC. It cites such concerns as mould, fire hazards, an overtaxed electrical system, and odours from growing plants.

It’s unclear at this point how successful those efforts will be, so for now, Dewshi says if condo boards want to stop people from growing weed in their units, their choices are to amend their bylaws or the condo rules.

“If the corporation opts to change its bylaws, under s. 56 of the Condominium Act, it will require a high threshold of approval — 80 per cent — from the owners,” she says.

The better option for boards, Dewshi suggests, is to change their rules.

“Under s. 58 of the Act, the board of directors can make, amend or repeal rules respecting the use of common elements and units to promote the safety, security or welfare of the owners and the property and assets of the corporation — or to prevent unreasonable interference with the use and enjoyment of the common elements, the units or the assets of the corporation,” she explains.

Similarly, Dewshi says unit owners will likely want to smoke pot in their homes, raising the hackles of some neighbours and boards upset with the smell.

“Condominium corporations can restrict the use of cannabis in the units and in common areas, but it’s important to consider the impact on those owners who rely on cannabis for medicinal purposes. Failure to accommodate them may infringe on their human rights and cause them undue hardship,” she says.

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