Pubdate: Sat, 30 Sep 2017
Source: Toronto Star (CN ON)
Copyright: 2017 The Toronto Star
Author: Bob Aaron
Page: H4


When marijuana becomes legal next summer, landlords, tenants and
condominium owners can expect an increase in disputes related to both
indoor and outdoor smoking.

Effective July 1, 2018, anyone 19 and over will be able to smoke
marijuana in their units and grow up to four, one-metre plants per

In the landlord-tenant sphere, landlords may legally prohibit smoking
both tobacco and marijuana in new leases, but it may not be possible
to prohibit existing tenants.

Condominium corporations can enact smoking bans by amending their
declarations, provided that 80 per cent of the unit owners vote in
favour of it.

Condo boards can also try to regulate cannabis use by enacting
reasonable rules, striking a balance between the rights of smokers and
non-smokers. Any new rules might exempt existing owners or occupants
as long as efforts are made to contain second-hand smoke.

In addition, under our human rights legislation, accommodation should
be made for disabled individuals who smoke marijuana in their units
for medical reasons.

In a growing body of cases in courts, landlord and tenant boards, and
human rights tribunals, many rulings have been sympathetic to the
plight of non-smokers unwillingly exposed to drifting secondhand smoke
in their own homes. To date, the cases have dealt exclusively with
tobacco use. But it is not unreasonable to expect more litigation
starting next summer due to the effects of marijuana smoke.

Until now, court cases which focus on objections to second-hand smoke
have usually been based on the legal principle of nuisance.

The first court case I was able to find on this topic is the
pre-Confederation Upper Canada decision in Cartwright v. Gray in 1866.

The plaintiff complained about smoke from a neighbour's carpentry shop
- - which burned pine shavings and other refuse.

The judge said: "A man may not use his own property so as to injure
his neighbour . . . Every man, by common law, has a right to pure air,
and to have no noxious smells or smoke sent on his land. . . ."

Court cases, rental housing tribunal decisions and human rights cases
across the country, even as high as the Supreme Court of Canada, have
followed this legal principle.

A British Columbia decision in 2003 involved drifting second-hand
smoke in a social housing project. The tenant was evicted, even though
he argued that he had a Charter right to grow and use marijuana.

The judge wrote that the odour made neighbouring suites virtually
unlivable and the government was obliged to protect them from
unreasonably disturbing odours.

The decision was upheld on appeal and the Supreme Court of Canada
dismissed an application for permission to appeal to that court.

In the 2014 MacKay case in Toronto, the owners of a condominium were
forced to move out due to noxious cigar smoke migrating from a
neighbouring unit. The owners sued the condominium corporation for
failing to respond adequately to their complaints. The judge was
critical of the condominium corporation and ordered it to pay $32,500
in court costs.

In light of the impending legalization of cannabis, landlords and
condominium corporations would be well advised to prepare action plans
to deal with the issue before it becomes a problem.

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Bob Aaron is a Toronto real estate lawyer. He can be reached at  on his website, and Twitter  ---
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