News / Halifax

Fire hazards, secondhand smoke main concerns for Nova Scotia landlords under marijuana legalization

Property owners have formed a Cannabis Legalization Committee to plan around possible issues like ventilation and insurance.

A Haligonian rolls a joint in this file photo.

Metro file

A Haligonian rolls a joint in this file photo.

Landlords’ main concerns with marijuana legalization in Nova Scotia are protecting tenant’s health and possible damage to buildings, says one advocacy group.

Kevin Russell of Halifax, head of the Investment Property Owners Association of Nova Scotia’s (IPOANS) Cannabis Legalization Committee, said the proposed federal legislation is causing “a lot of concern” for property owners as well as tenants with respiratory problems or small children who are worried about second-hand smoke.

“We're confident that what residents do behind closed doors is their business. Our concern is when it starts to affect other residents; that's when it becomes a bigger issue,” said Russell in an interview Monday.

Under the possible legalization, each household would be allowed four plants, but tenants growing in rental units is a concern for landlords.

“There's building code considerations. Will we have to change ventilation?” said Russell.

As a property owner, Russell said he’s worried a high-humidity growing environment might damage rental buildings, and special grow lights could become a fire hazard.

“(Tenants growing marijuana) may affect insurance premiums or even the ability to get insurance, we don't know at this point,” said Russell. In a case in February, a landlord in Kelowna, B.C. had insurance pulled from his building because of a tenant’s legal medical marijuana grow-op.

One landlord association, the Canadian Federation of Apartment Associations, is lobbying for the federal government to ban growing marijuana in rented units or multi-unit buildings altogether in future legislation.

Russell said that after legalization, recreational marijuana users should take some precautions to minimize the effect on other people.

“If they're going to smoke, they can ensure that something is put under their doors to prevent it from going into the hallway,” said Russell, adding that residents should still respect the no smoking signs in front of any buildings.

He believes landlords will also create smoke-free leases that include both marijuana and tobacco. Otherwise, he hopes there will be avenues for landlords’ to solve conflicts that arise from recreational marijuana users in rental units.

"If the tenant’s use of marijuana is affecting the quality of life of the surrounding tenants, we would hope that we would have some way to work with that tenant to resolve the issue,” he said.

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