Landlord/Tenant Law

Landlord / Tenant Issues: Growing Marijuana at Home

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In August 2016, the Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes Regulations (ACMPR) came into effect. Canadians with medical need and the authorization of their health care practitioner may now register with Health Canada through the new regulations to produce a limited amount of cannabis in their own homes. The number of plants permitted depends on whether plants are being grown indoors or outdoors, and on the individual’s medical need.

These regulations are the response to a Federal Court decision from February 2016 which found the regime outlined under the Marihuana for Medical Purposes Regulations to be overbroad and disproportionate in limiting Canadian individual’s right to access a doctor prescribed treatment, and thus violated the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. While the decision does not specifically grant Canadian citizens the right to grow marijuana in their homes, permission was granted in the ACMPR, which was the response to the court’s decision.

The ability to legally grow marijuana in a personal residence raises a variety of issues, legal and otherwise, however in this post I will only be discussing the landlord / tenant relationship. Additionally, this post only deals with legal growers authorized under the ACMPR, not those growing illegally. The ACMPR seems poised to raise a few areas of conflict between landlords and tenants. Unfortunately, the regulations do not answer every question, and they have not been in place long enough for all questions to be answered through the courts.  Two relevant issues are addressed below.

First, the ACMPR does not always require a tenant to get his or her landlord’s consent to begin growing, or even inform them. The ACMPR only requires the property’s owner to provide consent if the property is not the primary residence of the grower. As the Federal court’s decision framed access to a prescribed treatment as a Charter issue, it is currently unclear whether the lease agreement forbidding the tenant to grow marijuana on a rental property would be enforceable.

Second, there is a question of who is supposed to bear potential costs of legal growing. Many insurance companies will not insure a property being used to grow marijuana. While this may change if marijuana use and cultivation becomes legal on a broader spectrum, a landlord today may face having to pay significantly more, or losing their insurance altogether. This raises the question of whether the extra cost of appropriate insurance may be transferred to the tenant.  Again, this is currently unclear as one of the Federal court’s primary concern was the prohibitive cost of access to prescribed marijuana.

These are just two issues that have emerged in the early days of this issue. No doubt other complications will emerge in the relationship between landlords and tenants in this situation. Unfortunately, there may not be any clarification until a case works its way through the court system and a judge provides guidance, or amendments are made to the legislation.

Please feel free to contact us for assistance if you are a landlord or tenant impacted by the new ACMPR and require assistance.

By Brittany Doucet

 

Living with your Landlord

rental-agreement

There are a variety of rental situations a person might find themselves in. Unfortunately, there is a common misunderstanding that the Residential Tenancy Act (Act) applies in all situations. This is incorrect. The Act specifies a number of rental situations that the Act does not apply to. Renting rooms in the residence of the landlord, when the landlord lives there and shares the living space, is one of these situations. A common example of this situation is a university or college student renting a single room in a house and the owner of the house lives there.

Because the Act does not apply to these situations, when there is a disagreement between the parties they cannot simply rely on the Act to tell them how things should be resolved. Unfortunately, many people enter into an informal roommate arrangement without determining much beyond the amount of rent and find themselves in trouble when the relationship breaks down.  It is always a good idea to create a written agreement covering the terms of the relationship, especially when the Act does not apply. A written agreement will help the parties clarify exactly what they are agreeing to, give them certainty in what is expected of them, and will help both the parties and a judge determine exactly what was included in the agreement.

At a minimum, a written roommate agreement should contain all the basic information found in a lease agreement, including the following:

  • The length of the agreement, if there is a specific end-date in mind;
  • Amount of rent, and when and how it is to be paid
  • Who will be responsible for utility, cable, water, and other fees;
  • What space the roommate agreement includes (bedroom, bathroom, living space, parking space, use of backyard…)
  • Whether pets are allowed
  • How the roommate agreement may be terminated and whether notice is required;
  • If a roommate wishes to move out, whether they will be responsible to find a new roommate, and whether they will continue to be responsible for rent payments; and
  • How a disagreement will be resolved (discussion between the parties, mediation, court)

A roommate agreement can be made as specific as the relationship and the accommodations require. Even if not included in the written agreement, you may wish to discuss things like whether food will be shared, and who will be responsible for cleaning shared living spaces, and how shared living expenses like toilet paper and cleaning supplies will be shared.

If you require assistance with drafting a roommate agreement, our friendly, experienced lawyers are available to assist you. Please feel free to contact our office to schedule a consultation.

Written by: Brittany Doucet.