Landlords, tenants square off on legal pot growing in rental units
A fight is brewing between landlords and tenants over the right to grow pot in rental units once a federal law legalizing marijuana is passed.
Under the new law, which was tabled last week, Canadians would be allowed to grow their own marijuana, though the amount would be restricted.
Quebec Landlords' Association spokesperson Hans Brouillette said those regulations would be almost impossible to enforce.
“The large majority of property owners don’t believe that the police will be able to enforce the regulations (limiting Canadians to) four plants and a height of 100 centimeters,” he said. “We understand the government wants to legalize but there are other things that can be done. For instance, it would be possible to buy marijuana in legal stores. Why should tenants have the right to grow marijuana at home? It doesn’t make sense.”
Brouillette said landlords are also concerned that growing marijuana plants in rental units would lead to much higher electrical bills and that the humidity required to grow the plants would lead to mold problems.
Albert Krespine of the 710 Compassion Club said he has fielded multiple calls from people who want to grow marijuana at home.
"100 percent of our patients, I mean 70 percent of our patients, want to grow their own cannabis or want someone to grow it for them to drop their cost of medicine," said Krespine.
Brouillette added that cigarette smoking already poses an issue for landlords, with the smell of often drifting into other units.
"If we add to that problem the smoke of marijuana, it would lead to major complaints from other tenants, complaints which are very difficult to fix," he said. "We have the rental board, it's our tribunal, but unfortunately, it takes many months to be heard."
There are also safety concerns related to the production of cannabis-based products.
"We fear the production of the resin of cannabis which can be done using solvents, which is very dangerous," said Brouillette. "All those problems may lead to damage to apartment buildings and the apartment of the tenant. Of course we fear this eventual legalization."
Tenants' rights groups said any effort to restrict what tenants can do in their homes would be unfair, saying they should have the same rights as their landlords.
"You can't discriminate against someone who is using a certain right to palliate some kind of health concern, so in other words if they're using medical marijuana how can a landlord say you can't have that because it's allowed under the Quebec Charter of Rights," said Ted Wright.
That's an attitude Krespine said is very common.
"People are already smoking in their homes. Before I had kids I was smoking in my home all the time because I was using it as medicine and I needed it," said Krespine.
Tenants' rights groups also said landlords could conduct their own inspections on the number and size of plants being grown and said tenants should have the right to grow something that can be used for medicinal purposes.