Posted on: 3 April 2018
The widespread legalization of marijuana in various U.S. states -- for both medicinal and recreational purposes -- has also created widespread problems for landlords. If you're a landlord with rental units, this should answer some of the most common questions about navigating marijuana accommodation requests under the law.
Where Is Marijuana Legal In The U.S. now?
One of the most important things landlords need to do is stay abreast of the changes in their local jurisdiction. As of this writing, there are only 20 states that don't allow some form of legal marijuana use. The majority of states and the District of Columbia all allow for medical marijuana. Eight states have legalized its recreational use as well. A handful of states have also decriminalized the possession of small amounts of the drug and permit people to grow a limited number of plants in their residences.
If Recreational Marijuana Is Legal Where You Live, Can You Bar It In Your Rentals?
If your rental contracts enforce a general no-smoking clause, it also bars tenants from smoking marijuana. For many landlords, that's the major concern because of the smell and smoke damage to paint inside the units.
However, a no-smoking clause will not address the issue of other forms of marijuana. In order to address those, you need to have a clause in your lease that specifically bars the use of drugs that are illegal under federal law. It's necessary to be specific because of the conflicting status of marijuana under state and federal laws.
If A Tenant Asks For Permission To Use Medical Marijuana, Do You Have To Allow It?
There's no easy road for landlords to take where medical marijuana is concerned. On one hand, medical marijuana is not covered under the American's with Disabilities Act. That means that landlords can legally treat medical marijuana the same way that they do recreational marijuana and forbid both. However, many landlords are looking ahead to the future when there's a strong likelihood that federal laws will change. As a result, many are making allowances for medical marijuana patients and permitting the use of edibles, creams, and oils.
If You Allow Medical Marijuana Consumption, Do You Have To Permit Plant Cultivation?
No. The cultivation of marijuana plants can put a tremendous strain on the resources of landlords who pay any part of their rentals water or electricity supply -- which is mandated by law in some jurisdictions. In addition, the humidity the plants require is damaging to paint, plaster, and wood. That makes their cultivation inside rental units a liability that landlords don't have to endure.
Because writing up a lease that addresses all of these issues in an unambiguous manner without running afoul of local laws can be difficult, it's often wise to seek the advice of an attorney in the process.Share