Pubdate: Fri, 08 Dec 2017
Source: Regina Leader-Post (CN SN)
Copyright: 2017 The Leader-Post Ltd.
Author: Arthur White-Crummey
Page: A3


Tenants hoping to grow legal marijuana plants in their homes might
soon have to deal with a new kind of drug enforcement - from their

The province introduced legislation Tuesday to give landlords the
right to prohibit the use, sale or growing of marijuana inside rental
units. It's only one part of a string of amendments to the Residential
Tenancies Act that empower landlords in Saskatchewan.

Justice Minister Don Morgan told reporters he doesn't intend for the
rules to affect the possession of dried marijuana, but only live
plants and smoking.

"Right now, landlords have the authority to say a building is a
smoking building or a non-smoking building, so this extends that right
to cannabis users as well," he said.

"If you choose to rent you may have to find a landlord that's

The proposed amendments would also change rules around eviction
appeals - directing tenants to pay rent while their cases are before
the Court of Queen's Bench - and permit landlords to dispose of up to
$1,500 of property abandoned by former tenants. Currently, landlords
need to seek an order from the Office of Residential Tenancies to do
that, a process that can take weeks.

Chanda Lockhart, executive officer of the Saskatchewan Landlords
Association, said the eviction measure is unlikely to work. "The
serial non-rent payers are still not going to pay," she said. But she
called the other parts of the proposed law "awesome."

She said landlords often send her pictures about tenants skipping out
on rent and leaving piles of property behind. If anything has the
slightest value, they have to hold onto it.

"We sit on it for four weeks," she said. "This happens on a regular
basis. People will leave entire suites - they will walk out."

As a property manager, she once walked through a unit full of
discarded property up to her chest, including an unplugged freezer
full of rotten meat. "It was horrible," she said.

Lockhart expects many landlords will make use of the marijuana
provisions, and impose rules that say "no growing of any sort." She
argued that a marijuana plant isn't like a pot of geraniums. Lights
and power supplies - often a necessity for indoor growing - could be a
fire risk. She's also worried about mould.

"Those plants can grow up to four feet tall and they retain 10 times
more moisture than your average houseplant," she said. "The humidity
levels are going to rise, which is going to increase mould in that

Ken Sailor, a marijuana activist and former member of the Saskatchewan
MarijuanaParty, said that's simply not true. He admitted marijuana
plants might produce a bit of an odour, but said a plant or two is
unlikely to cause any damage to a rental property.

"You don't need a special rule for marijuana," he said. "It's just
another manifestation of the war on drugs."

The rules are already there, he argued. If moisture leads to mould,
landlords can take action. But they shouldn't go after responsible
cannabis growers.

The government did specify that tenants can contact the Office of
Residential Tenancies if they feel their landlord's rules are
unreasonable. But Sailor argued that it's unfair for renters to face
new restrictions while homeowners are free to grow their own plants.

Lockhart has a reply to that: If you want to grow pot, buy your own

"They are welcome to grow and smoke in their own private dwelling,"
she said.

Regina landlord Rebecca Riches said she "absolutely" agrees with the
proposed amendment, and plans to impose the no-growing rule in her own
properties. She said it's also a matter of giving tenants choice - the
choice to live in a potfree building.

"Unless they allow the landlords to make those rules, you won't have
that choice," she said.

Where there's growing, she said, there's likely to be smoking, too.
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