Paralegal

Banning pot not easy: Murray

By Paul Russell, AdvocateDaily.com Contributor

Ontario landlords who want to ban tenants from smoking marijuana better check their existing lease agreements to see if it’s possible, Ottawa paralegal Amri Murray tells AdvocateDaily.com.

“In this province, once a lease agreement is signed that allows tenants to smoke tobacco, then that automatically includes marijuana unless there are restrictions through condo bylaws or your lease agreement,” says Murray, principal of AJ Murray Legal Services.

“Landlords can’t arbitrarily insert new terms into existing lease agreements to ban smoking marijuana if tobacco smoking is permissible,” she says.

Ontario tenants who have no restrictions in their lease agreements or within condo bylaws would be allowed to legally grow marijuana at home, Murray says.

Anyone who wants to grow their own pot must remember that they are only allowed four plants per household, she says.

“It’s a very common misconception that everyone can have four plants,” she says, “but it is actually four plants per household, not per person.”

Even in cases where multiple people who are not related occupy a single home, “it is still four plants per household,” she says.

Murray says the Ontario Landlord Association has been campaigning to have the government give landlords more power to regulate the consumption and growing of marijuana in their properties, as other provinces are less lenient when it comes to pot in rental units.

A recent CTV News article states that in Quebec and Nova Scotia, landlords have the right to change signed leases so that tenants can be banned from smoking marijuana.

In Saskatchewan, legislation is being crafted to allow landlords to prohibit “the possession, use, and sale” of cannabis inside rental units, according to the article.

If Ontario landlords want to restrict the use and the production of marijuana on their properties, Murray says they will have to wait until the lease terminates, and then rewrite their contracts outlining the restrictions.

Murray says landlords have various concerns with marijuana, including that its distinct odour could waft into adjoining units.

“Where there are other tenants who may be affected by smoke, landlords do, in fact, have a right to be concerned,” she says.

“If marijuana smoke is constantly drifting to a neighbour’s property and disturbing that tenant’s right to the quiet enjoyment of their own property, the smoker could face eviction,” Murray says.

Considering some rental units include the cost of electricity in the monthly rent, Murray says landlords could be stuck with higher electrical bills if people use heat lamps to grow their cannabis plants.

“Another risk is fire from these lamps,” she says, noting that many illegal grow-ops have gone up in flames.

There has been some debate about whether to make medicinal marijuana subject to the same rules as the regular variety because “once smoking is banned in a rental unit, it usually means all smoking,” she says.

Those who require medicinal pot could argue it’s their civil right to smoke it at home, Murray says, adding, “though there is the counter-argument that there are other ways that it can be ingested besides smoking it.”

She recommends that landlords carry out regular inspections of their property.

“Where there is smoking, you may wish to ensure there is no damage caused as a result of such actions,” Murray says.

For tenants, she recommends they carefully review their lease agreement for certain restrictions, to ensure compliance.

“Tenants could face eviction should their marijuana smoking be found to infringe upon the rights of other tenants or the landlord,” Murray says.

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