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Rental real estate owners struggle with marijuana legislation

While most legal activities are allowed within private homes, some landlords take issue with certain activities within their buildings. The upcoming marijuana legalization has become a topic among Ontario owners of rental real estate. Some landlords would like the right to change tenants' leases to ban the drug from their properties as soon as it is legalized. However, marijuana users argue that this would infringe on their rights and limit their ability to find housing.

The question that has arisen in this case is whether these restrictions are legal under rental real estate legislation in Ontario, or if they infringe upon the rights of tenants. It is within a landlord's right to restrict smoking of tobacco or any other substance in a unit. However, it is not legal to change a lease unilaterally before it ends.

The proposed legislation states that people will only be allowed to smoke marijuana inside their homes, which means that unlike tobacco users, tenants will not be able to simply go outside to smoke. Landlords are concerned about the smell this will cause for neighbouring units and buildings. They also say it can cost $5,000 to $6,000 to get the smell out of floors and walls. 

Landlords in Ontario should always be aware of the real estate laws that apply to them, including tenants' rights legislation. This includes the inability to alter leases until they have reached completion. Both landlords and tenants with legal questions on this issue as legalization gets closer should speak to a lawyer about their concerns.

Source: CTV News, "Ontario landlords call for right to immediately ban pot in rentals despite tenant laws", Peter Goffin, Jan. 22, 2018

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