Ontario landlords want to keep legal pot out of their units, but is a ban the way to go?

The Canadian Federation of Apartment Associations wants to ban cannabis from its rental units once the substance is legalized later this year, but not everyone thinks a ban would be effective, or even legal.

Property managers point to neighbour complaints, damage from smoke as factors

Property managers who oppose the ban say it would cause more trouble than it would solve. (Joe Mahoney/Canadian Press)

A group of Ontario landlords wants to ban people from smoking cannabis in their apartments once the drug is legalized later this year.

The Canadian Federation of Apartment Associations announced its position earlier this week, though it remains unclear if landlords would have the ability to ban what is soon to be a legal substance.

"Right now they can [smoke cannabis], unless the landlord forbids it in the lease," said Dan Henderson, president of the property management company Del Condominium Rentals.

Henderson is among the landlords and property owners who intend to re-write their leases to ban smoking the drug outright beginning on July 1, when recreational cannabis is expected to be legalized across the country.

During an interview on Metro Morning Wednesday, Henderson pointed to complaints about odour and damages caused by cannabis smoke as factors in the proposed ban.

"Let's take for example, if a neighbour has asthma, or a neighbour has children, these things would affect them," he said. "Absolutely, we wouldn't allow that."

To ban or not to ban?

While other property managers admit that excessive cannabis smoke can be a nuisance to neighbouring tenants, they say an outright ban is not the best approach.

"I think it'd be great if we could ban it, but the reality is how do we enforce it?" asked Rae Ostrander, who manages affordable housing units around Ontario.

Ostrander said an attempt to enforce a ban — and to potentially evict tenants — could lead to lengthy legal battles at Ontario's Landlord and Tenant Board. Those battles could force otherwise solid tenants out of his buildings, he said.

He also says the issues around cannabis use would be similar to other potential neighbour nuisances such as loud music, pet odour and even smelly cooking, which are not generally controlled through bans.

"Our focus has always been trying to work and be reasonable with people and figure out a solution that makes sense up front," he said on Metro Morning. "A lot of it comes down to common sense."