Quebec landlords push ban on smoking pot inside apartments

Landlords in Quebec are taking steps to ensure their rental properties remain free of pot smoke, even though the drug will be legal in Canada come July 1st.

But tenant rights advocates say such prohibitions would be discriminatory

Some tenants in Quebec have received notices from their landlords informing them it will be forbidden to smoke marijuana in their home. (CBC)

Landlords in Quebec are taking steps to ensure their rental properties remain free of pot smoke, even though the drug will be legal in Canada come July 1st.

Under Quebec's proposed marijuana law, residents will be allowed to use marijuana recreationally in their homes but won't be permitted to grow cannabis for personal use.

Yet some landlords have already sent notices to tenants informing them they won't be allowed to smoke weed in their apartments.

"Landlords are looking to add clauses to their leases where, going forward, it would be forbidden to consume marijuana that provides smoke and odours," said Kevin Lebeau, a spokesperson for the Quebec Landlords Association.

According to Lebeau, landlords are obligated to act in the interests of all of their tenants, some of whom may be firmly against the presence of marijuana in the building.

"It diminishes your enjoyment of your apartment," Lebeau added. "For some people it is a health issue and other people don't want their children exposed to this at all." 
Recreational marijuana is set to become legal in Canada on July 1st. (CBC)

He also pointed out that odour and smoke can be a "major nuisance" for others given they are difficult to contain. 

A poll conducted recently by the landlords association suggested a majority of its members anticipate tenants will complain about marijuana smoke. A majority also indicated they plan to prohibit smoking marijuana inside their buildings.

Discriminatory measure?

Tenant rights groups across the province are questioning whether the smoking prohibitions will be legal once marijuana itself is legalized. It also unclear how such prohibitions would be enforced, said Ted Wright, a tenant rights advocate.

"Landlords don't understand what you can do with marijuana yet, and neither do tenants. But tenants don't have to agree to [these provisions]," said Wright.
An example of some of the marijuana-related conditions that landlords want to impose on their tenants. (CBC)

The tenants' association of Sherbrooke, Que., argues that banning tenants from smoking marijuana inside their homes will be discriminatory after July 1st.

"It's our housing that we pay for. We take care of [the space]. It's our home," said spokesperson Normand Couture. "So if we want to consume cannabis, or consume cigarettes, then the landlord can't prevent that."

Tenants can contest

If a tenant receives a notice from their landlord with new clauses prohibiting them from smoking marijuana in their apartment, they are fully within their rights to contest, said Wright. 

"The landlord doesn't have the absolute right to do whatever he or she wants at any time," he added. 

For their part, landlords can file an application with the province's rental board if they wish to enforce the clause. Landlords hope the rental board will help clarify their power to impose restrictions on marijuana use. 

"We're in a totally new area right now. There is no case law regarding marijuana, so we'll be looking to the rental board to establish what the case law will be going forward," said Lebeau.

With files from Kate McKenna and Radio-Canada