British Columbia

B.C. landlords welcome power to prevent tenants growing, smoking pot

Landlords across B.C. are relieved to hear they will have the power to prevent tenants from growing or smoking marijuana in rental units.

But lawyer says imposing an outright ban is not the best idea

Although the province is allowing users to grow up to four marijuana plants per household, landlords will have the right to restrict this on their properties. (Dan McGarvey/CBC)

Landlords across B.C. are relieved to hear they will have the power to prevent tenants from growing or smoking marijuana in rental units, according to new rules unveiled by the provincial government Monday. 

David Hutniak, CEO of Landlord B.C., which represents owners and managers of rental housing across the province, says the rule is a step in the right direction as the federal legalization of cannabis draws closer.

"Our original approach to this was actually to seek an outright ban of the smoking and/or cultivation of cannabis," Hutniak said.

"In a perfect world we would prefer not to see any cannabis grown in our buildings."

'We're providing housing, as opposed to greenhouses' 

Hutniak says that landlords are worried for the health and safety of their tenants, as well as the impacts that growing marijuana could have on their buildings.

"Growing marijuana uses a lot of electricity; there's high humidity ... particularly with a less sophisticated growers, it's dried in the oven," Hutniak explained.

"We're providing housing, as opposed to greenhouses for growing cannabis."

David Hutniak of Landlord B.C. says that landlords should have the right to restrict the growing and smoking of marijuana. (Christer Waara/CBC)

Without restrictions, tenants could also abuse the right to grow, Hutniak says.

"Invariably, four plants becomes 10 plants become many, many more plants and then it becomes a continuous process of trying to enforce regulation," he said.

Shared space

But some think that restricting people from growing may make things worse for landlords.

Vancouver lawyer John Conroy, who represented four plaintiffs in a Supreme Court case that decided medical marijuana users have a right to grow their own medicinal pot, doesn't think that outright bans are effective.

Conroy says that a shared space for cultivation outside the building or in an underground parking lot would be ideal.

"Instead of prohibition, which drives things underground and people then do all sorts of things to try to hide things from you, your better strategy surely is to say, 'OK, we're going to have an area' … that would encourage them to go and do it outside the apartments with everybody's approval," Conroy said.

"We have to overcome this idea that you just say no and that that is going to work."

'It just makes no sense'

​But Hutniak says he and other landlords have been hearing from tenants who do not want cannabis smoked in their buildings once legalization happens.

"When we look at it from a business issue in how we want to manage our relationships with our tenants, it just makes no sense," he said.

Hutniak says that as marijuana becomes legal, there will be many options for tenants to be able to consume marijuana without having to grow or smoke in a rental.

"The retail model here is really progressive. There's going to be adequate availability of the products, let's put it that way."

With files from The Early Edition


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