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Some Alberta landlords updating rental rules ahead of marijuana legalization

Alberta landlords are rewording leases to ban renters from smoking and growing legal cannabis
WATCH: Global News consumer reporter Tony Tighe tells us how Alberta landlords are rewording leases to ban renters from smoking and growing legal cannabis.

If you’re a renter, you may find some new wording in many leases in the coming months.

Many property managers in Alberta and Canada are adding new rules to prevent smoking and growing pot in their rental properties, while others are taking advantage of it.

Sandy Farnsham runs a small property management company and said her homeowners don’t want tenants to smoke or grow cannabis in or on their property.

READ MORE: Calgary moves forward with ban on public pot, defers decision on ‘cannabis gardens’

She said it’s already in her leases and she’s making it clear to prospective tenants before they sign.

“It’s just been a matter of number one; deciding what’s ok on our property, and number two; making sure that we communicate that very clearly,” Farnsham said. “Landlords and tenants both don’t get into relationships to have troubles and the way that you can reduce troubles is to clearly communicate.”

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Under the Alberta Residential Tenancies Act, landlords have the right to set rules for what is and isn’t allowed in a property.

While some restrict pets, cigarettes and smoking pot, other property managers may allow it. Lawyer Chris Souster sees an opportunity for some.

“I think that there is a huge opportunity for landlords that are 4/20 friendly,” Souster said. “I think they can likely charge a premium for some of these spaces because those people who are being refused by the majority of landlords might be looking for a building that is 4/20 friendly.”

READ MORE: Edmonton report outlines no-go zones for recreational marijuana use

He said the courts have already upheld no smoking clauses in leases and expects marijuana will be no different.

What’s still unclear is how landlords can restrict tenants who use pot or grow it for medical reasons.

“I don’t think it’s cut and dried,” Souster said. “I think if a landlords include those prohibitions, they may be taking some risk. There may be a human rights challenge and then it will be up to the human rights tribunal.”

He said the fact there are alternatives to smoking and growing it in a rental property could be a deciding factor.

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For more information on regulating cannabis use and cultivation in rental properties, the Calgary Residential Rental Association has connections to legal help and sample leases.