Cannabis and the Residential Tenancy Act
With the recent legalization of Cannabis in Canada, you may find yourself wondering what rights you or your renters have with respect to growing and smoking cannabis in a rental property. Perhaps you’re a landlord and you discover your renters are growing cannabis plants in your property, or perhaps you’re a renter and you like to enjoy cannabis from time to time, but you’re cautious about violating your lease agreement or breaking the law. Hopefully we can help clear up some of your confusion.
On October 17, 2018, non-medical cannabis was legalized in Canada with the passing of Bill 30. Among the changes made to the law was a new section added to the Residential Tenancy Act – section 21.1. This section includes a retroactive prohibition of smoking and growing cannabis in residential properties. This change applies to all tenancies entered into before the date that section 14 of the Cannabis Control and Licensing Act came into force, or May 31, 2018.
Under the new law, all tenancy agreements entered into before May 31, 2018 which already included a term that prohibits smoking tobacco and does not include a term that expressly permits smoking cannabis are considered to prohibit smoking cannabis (but not vaporizing cannabis) in the same manner. Tenancy agreements that are silent on the topic of smoking will be considered to allow smoking cannabis, regardless of the date that the agreement was made.
Similarly, all tenancy agreements entered into before May 31, 2018 are considered to prohibit the growing, cultivation, and harvesting of cannabis in or on rental properties. As with smoking, tenancy agreements created on or after May 31, 2018 that are silent on the topic of growing cannabis will be considered to allow growing cannabis. Thus, in order to prevent renters from smoking or growing cannabis in or on one’s property, any tenancy agreement entered into on or after May 31, 2018 must include a term that specifically prohibits the activity.
Keep in mind that the fact your tenancy agreement permits growing cannabis does not mean you can grow as much as you want. The federal Cannabis Act prohibits individuals from possessing more than four cannabis plants, and you must be 19 years of age or older to smoke or grow cannabis in B.C. Additionally, you must choose your growing location carefully, as growing cannabis anywhere visible from a public place is prohibited. Also keep in mind that these terms refer only to non-medical cannabis. With respect to medical cannabis, tenants may be able to grow more than the standard limit of four cannabis plants, but only with the proper authorization from a licensed medical practitioner.
Always refer to your rental agreement and the applicable law before smoking or growing cannabis in your rental property. If you find yourself involved in a tenancy dispute related to cannabis, feel free to reach out. Arora Zbar LLP is well-versed in these laws and would be more than happy to help.