BC landlords want outright ban on smoking pot in rental housing

Jan 24 2018, 7:01 am

BC landlords are fighting for an outright ban on smoking pot or growing marijuana in rental housing when cannabis is legalized later this year.

David Hutniak, CEO of LandlordBC, told Daily Hive the group has been advocating to the BC government for the past few months on the issue.

“Just because something is legal does not mean the rights of others should be infringed upon,” said Hutniak.

“We feel that it is not unreasonable to consider the rights of other tenants and the landlords property rights too. Cannabis is not inert.”

Hutniak said LandlordBC’s members believe the consumption and growing of recreational cannabis will have a negative impact on their property.

Specifically, he cites the following concerns:

  • Safety hazards due to electrical overloading, and excess humidity
  • Interference with other tenants through strong odours
  • Potential liability for the landlord and risk to the tenants and mortgage holder
  • Potential cancellation of building insurance or the calling of a mortgage with financially disastrous results for an innocent building owner.

“Smoking cannabis should be banned anywhere that smoking tobacco is banned,” he said. “Landlords should be able to ban the smoking of tobacco or the smoking of cannabis.”

Hutniak says growing cannabis in multi-unit or rented dwellings is even more problematic than smoking pot.

ban on growing cannabis in rentals

Cannabis plant seedling (tomkawila/Shutterstock)

He cites the Doctors of BC, who in November 2017, submitted recommendations to the BC government, on the legalization of cannabis.

In those recommendations, the association asked the government to consider banning the cultivation of recreational cannabis at home.

The association’s reasons for considering such a ban were:

  • High humidity and temperatures, risk of fire, and the use of hazardous chemicals such
    as pesticides.
  • Lack of quality control regarding contamination and potency of the product.
  • Access to cannabis by children (e.g. accidental ingestion or overdose) and underage

Hutniak said “many” tenants had reached out to LandlordBC strongly supporting their call for a ban on smoking and growing pot in rental homes.

“Both activities will infringe a landlord’s ability to provide safe housing to their tenants,” said Hutniak. “In many respects the issue is one of common sense.”

Ban would not include medical marijuana

Hutniak notes that the ban would not include anyone using cannabis for medical reasons, and he is encouraged by the fact edibles and oils are being developed for this purpose.

“We fully support the legalization of cannabis and recognize that cannabis has medicinal applications,” said Hutniak.

“From that perspective, we have been and will continue to be sensitive to those tenants.”

A statement provided to Daily Hive by the Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General Mike Farnworth said he is working on developing rules around cannabis use:

“Our government is focused on responsibly managing this significant change in public policy and is currently working to develop the provincial regulatory framework in response to the federal government’s decision to legalize non-medical cannabis in July 2018. The Province’s approach focuses on protecting young people, making health and safety a priority, keeping cannabis out of the hands of criminals, and keeping our roads safe. Regulating cannabis consumption and personal cultivation are among the key policy areas the Province is considering as we develop our provincial framework.”

Hutniak concedes that with cannabis set to be legalized from July 1 this year, it may prove too short a deadline to have a legislative ban enacted.

In that case, he says, he recommends Farnworth place a moratorium on smoking and growing weed in rental housing for three to five years.

“There is no downside to him buying some time on this issue… until the cannabis landscape is better known,” said Hutniak.

Jenni SheppardJenni Sheppard

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