Enjoying cannabis as a renter in Canada
According to Statistics Canada, more than 30% of Canadian households are renting, and that number is only expected to grow as the housing market continues to move further out of reach for many average citizens. For many, it’s the luxury of not bearing the burden of costly, unexpected repairs and property maintenance but renting also comes with some downsides in terms of freedom, and that is especially true for cannabis enthusiasts.
When you don’t own your home, there are certain rules and expectations, typically laid out clearly in a lease. There are, of course, some legal protections for renters, but very few understand the true extent of the law, which makes it difficult when you’re trying to figure out if what you’re doing could be breaking some legitimate restrictions. With that in mind, we’d like to introduce you to some of the most commonly asked questions surrounding cannabis and rented dwellings.
Can a landlord discriminate against cannabis users when applying for a rental?
Cannabis is legal in Canada, so it might seem wrong when landlords discriminate against potential renters for loving the plant, but technically, according to OHRC, there are only 15 clear, protected grounds that may qualify as discrimination, including race, ancestry, place of origin, ethnic origin, citizenship, sexual orientation, sex, disability, colour, creed, age, marital status, family status, receipt of public assistance, and record of employment-related offenses. However, there is one caveat for renters who consume cannabis for medicinal purposes.
If an individual is applying for a rental and has a medical condition that is treated with cannabis, and a landlord denies the application based solely on the fact that the applicant consumes cannabis, that decision could be considered discrimination. Those who experience this type of discrimination should file a complaint with their provincial housing authorities and human rights protection organizations.
Can my landlord evict me for smoking weed?
In most provinces, it’s perfectly legal and, in some cases, even encouraged for landlords to add no-smoking clauses to residential and commercial leases, but this rule must apply to all units in a building and be enforced consistently and equally. In some regions, tenants in multi-unit dwellings with leases that do not include no-smoking clauses may be grandfathered in. The problem with this is that smoking weed or anything else for that matter alone is not typically considered to be a legitimate reason to evict.
In order for a tenant to be evicted for smoking cannabis, their landlord must establish a clear violation like damage to the unit or interference with the reasonable enjoyment of other renters. Renters of single-family homes don’t have to worry about impeding the reasonable enjoyment of another resident, as they do not share ventilation with any other units. However, secondhand smoke is known to do things like stick to walls and carpets, and if this is occurring, then a landlord may be granted an eviction for damage.
Can my landlord evict me for growing cannabis?
Residents living in provinces like Quebec, where at-home cultivation is not allowed, may be evicted for growing cannabis. Several other regions, including British Columbia, boast specific rules and restrictions surrounding where plants may be located, and violating those laws could put a tenancy at risk. However, most provinces do not give landlords the power to say whether or not a resident may grow cannabis plants. The biggest thing tenants must remember is that they may be evicted for illegal activities, so it is important to stay below your provincially set maximum.
In some cases, tenants with a no growing clause, be it the landlord or provincially imposed, may have the option to request special accommodations based on medical need. Most provinces require landlords to accommodate people with medical conditions or disabilities, and there have been cases where tenants have avoided evicts by arguing this protected right. However, there must be proof that having access to cannabis is a need and not just a recreational hobby.
Am I allowed to make cannabis products in my rental?
In Canada, it is legal for anyone of legal age to purchase or grow cannabis to turn into other wonderful homemade goods like oils, extracts, or edibles, and renters are no exception. Much like cooking a regular dinner, renters may cook, mix, and whip up almost anything they like with cannabis, assuming the process is safe. However, this is not always the case with some cannabis products, like BHO, which requires the use of forced gasses that can be considered a fire risk, or hazardous to other residents (in multi-unit dwellings).
It is important to note that most sources used in the making of this article are Ontario-based. However, most provincial regulators operate within similar parameters. Unfortunately, there are still some discrepancies from one region to the next, so it is important to check your local laws before deciding how to proceed.