February 17th marked the fourth month since Canada legalized legalize the possession, use, and production of marijuana for recreational purposes in private residences. This understandably created some concern for those living in multi-family residences, especially condominiums.Many condominium boards found themselves scrambling to pass bylaws that would prohibit cannabis consumption before October 17, 2018. But for those boards that haven’t, how has legalization panned out?
What We’ve Seen So Far
As a trusted property manager for a number of condominiums across Edmonton, we are in a good position to share our observations on this issue. And the truth is, we really haven’t seen any significant changes. Thankfully, people haven’t been getting together to smoke cannabis like it was going out of style on common property.
It really comes down to basic consideration. Most people who use cannabis in condos are still keeping it private, and their habits generally go unnoticed. And for those who exercise less discretion and create a problem, we find that a letter from the Board generally solves the issue.
Most corporate bylaws have some provisions that allow the control of cannabis. And even if they don’t, condo bylaws must include a clause about not interfering with other residents’ peaceful use of the property – this is one of the ways that we are able to effectively deal with the small percentage of users that disrupt other people.
Fortunately, the majority of users seem to fall into the thoughtful camp, meaning we have not seen a drastic rise in complaints and conflicts in the properties we manage.
The real question is where the courts would rule if the issue escalates further – and that’s the kind of question that we would advise Boards to engage with their lawyer for advice. That way, they will be better informed into the legal actions they can (or cannot) take if they have not updated their bylaws to explicitly ban cannabis use.
For those who did change their bylaws, congratulations! You’ve likely saved yourself quite a bit of potential hassle. But to date, we haven’t come across a single board that has, since making this change requires a 75% special resolution form all owners. For example, if you have a 80 unit property 60 members must vote in favor, or the bylaws can’t be changed.
Accommodating Medical Marijuana Use
Unlike recreational use, medical marijuana use demands a more accommodating approach from condominium boards. The use of marijuana to treat medical conditions is on the rise, and is only expected to increase. An attempt by a condominium corporation to stop a resident from smoking could be challenged in court.
These cases will likely have to be approached on a case-by-case basis under the Human Rights Code. One obvious tactic would be to open a discussion with medical marijuana users around the methods of consumption, since nuisance concerns are primarily related to the act of smoking and associated odors. An agreement to use edibles, oils, or vapourizers could provide both the board and the resident with a mutually agreeable solution that minimizes the risk of affecting others in the building.
Condo Boards often decide to hire a property management company to help them handle the daily operations of the corporation and provide valuable insight and advice. Having a professional property management company on board can certainly lighten the load, but it’s important to note that the board of directors retains decision-making power. This is especially important with the cannabis legalization in Canada because the recreational use of cannabis in condos will now be permitted.
Braden Equities Inc. has an established history of successful condominium management in the Edmonton area. We remain committed to the residents living in each building we operate, and would be happy to discuss how we can help you save money and enforce bylaws.