P.E.I. landlords update smoking policies in anticipation of legal pot
With marijuana soon to be legal, landlords wonder how their smoking policies will hold up
With the legalization of marijuana approaching, a number of P.E.I. landlords are wondering how they'll be affected — and some are already updating their smoking policies in anticipation.
"It was something that we were concerned about. Any smoking in an apartment causes damage," says Trevor Bevan, one of the owners of Bevan Enterprises, which rents around 400 units on P.E.I.
"And then there's also the part of affecting their neighbours. You know, the smoke can get into other people's apartments, and that can cause a major problem for them as well."
All Bevan Enterprises units were already non-smoking. But as of this month, tenants can't smoke on the properties outdoors, either.
Bevan said while the decision to change the policy was partly based on problems with cigarette butts and wafting smoke at some properties, concerns about marijuana also played a role.
Marijuana is also now specifically mentioned in Bevan Enterprises' no smoking policy. While Bevan believes marijuana would fall under existing smoking rules anyway, he said the company wanted to make it clear, as staff have heard concerns from residents.
"We have had calls from tenants asking what our stance will be. So, their issue would be that the smoking would move into their apartments and then they would have to smell it," Bevan said.
Concerns from tenants
Kathy McInnis, owner of McInnis Group which owns properties in Charlottetown and Summerside, says she has also heard concerns from residents.
I anticipate we're going to have some fairly serious issues with our residents.- Dan Sampson, Killam Apartment REIT
"Especially buildings that … have children in them. And people … saying, 'It's not fair, we don't smoke marijuana, we don't want our children exposed to that smoke,'" McInnis said.
McInnis made all of her buildings non-smoking as of last month. Previously, smoking was allowed in about half of her units.
"We felt that this was fair. If they want to smoke, they can smoke outside, 15 feet away from the building, or on their patios," McInnis said.
'Quite a pungent odour'
However, in P.E.I. changes to a smoking policy only apply to new tenants. People who already live in units where smoking was formerly permitted will still be allowed to smoke in their apartments.
McInnis said she hopes most of her tenants will not smoke marijuana inside, but she expects there will be at least a few issues.
Managers at Killam Apartment REIT have similar concerns. More than half of Killam's approximately 1,000 apartment units on P.E.I. currently allow smoking.
"Tenants are free to smoke cigarettes, and will be soon [allowed] to smoke marijuana in those buildings," said Dan Sampson, Killam's director of property management. "And marijuana smoke, as many people know, is quite a pungent odour. It lingers a little longer, I think, than cigarette smoke and I anticipate we're going to have some fairly serious issues with our residents."
Sampson said Killam has no immediate plans to change its smoking policies. However, he said staff are looking into how they might deal with issues if they arise.
He said if a tenant regularly smokes marijuana, and neighbours can smell it, Killam might consider treating it as a disturbance, and therefore a cause for terminating the lease. He said he doesn't know for sure if that reasoning would be accepted by the Island Regulatory and Appeals Commission (IRAC).
"It's new territory for everybody," Sampson said.
IRAC's notice of termination form includes conducting yourself "in a manner as to interfere with the possession, occupancy or quiet enjoyment of other lessees" as a reason that can be used for terminating a lease.
Existing policies would apply
Jennifer Perry, IRAC's Acting Director of Residential Property said she couldn't say whether eviction based on smoke disturbance would stand up to an appeal.
"There's so many twists and turns in law," Perry said.
Perry did say, however, that existing smoking rules would also apply to marijuana, and landlords who already have strong no smoking policies would be protected.
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