Property Management Blog

Why Your Rental Contract Should Address Cannabis Usage

Property Management Blog

Not so many years ago, it would have been unthinkable for landlords and property managers to include an official stance on the use, possession, and cultivation of cannabis by the residents living in their apartments, condo units, and rental homes. That's because having or using marijuana was unequivocally illegal.

Now, however, the tides have turned, at least in most states. All but a handful have legalized medical and/or cannabis usage or at least decriminalized its possession.

There's Still a Problem on the Horizon

Despite the recent House passage of a bill to legalize marijuana use at the federal level, it still faces an uphill Senate fight before it makes it to the president's desk to be signed. Therefore, currently, using marijuana in any form whatsoever and for any reasons, including medical, is still illegal according to federal laws.

Consequently, there remains a small possibility that property owners who allow marijuana usage on their properties could also face criminal penalties, although this remains very unlikely.

Where Do Your Views Fall on the Legalization Spectrum?

Some residential property owners detest cigarette smoking and opt to make their properties smoke-free (including marijuana). But with edibles, tinctures, and other non-flower versions of the weed in use, simply implementing no-smoking laws remains inefficient.

So, what is a property owner to do? Below are some suggestions for devising a comprehensive cannabis policy for all your properties.

Understand the Laws

Review the most recent statutes affecting cannabis in your city and state. Things can change at each election, so keep abreast of the issues to guide your policies.

Consider How Your Decisions Will Affect Residents Using Medical Marijuana

If a 68-year-old grandmother uses a cannabis tincture at night before bedtime to treat a condition, do you want to evict her because of it? While that hardly seems fair, a badly crafted cannabis policy can create nightmares just like that one.

There is also the chance that property managers or landlords could run into problems with HIPAA laws that prevent access to patient medical records and information.

Define Your Policy and Cover All Bases

While the times may be a 'changin', you still need a cohesive and clear policy to address all contingencies related to residents and marijuana. It cannot be stressed enough that this policy in your residents' leases or rental contracts needs to be drawn up by legal professionals.

Property owners could face legal liabilities due to the terms or intent of their rules regarding on-site cannabis usage. That's the last thing that you want to do, as it could alienate stable, long-term residents who pay rent on time and create no problems whatsoever.

Another Issue Regarding Marijuana Use

If you own the property, how will you know whether residents are breaking any of the marijuana rules? You certainly don't have the time, nor likely the inclination, to skulk around the grounds trying to follow the scent of marijuana emanating from a resident's unit.

Property Managers Enforce Your Policies

If you do not have a property manager overseeing matters like these, this matter alone could motivate you to hire one.

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