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A recent survey from the Government of Saskatchewan found that over 80,000 people are expected to begin legally smoking marijuana this summer. Photo by Josh Diaz.

 

With Saskatchewan’s rules surrounding legalized marijuana layed out, and the summer fast approaching, residents across the province will soon have the opportunity to light up without losing their freedom.

But what about losing their home?

Back in December, 2017. the Government of Saskatchewan made an amendment to the The Residential Tenancies Amendment Act to give landowners in the province the ability to redefine the smoking provisions on new and existing lease agreements. Allowing the rental owners to dictate if, and how, marijuana is able to be consumed and grown on their rental properties on a unit by unit basis.

The resulting changes to the legislation has left landowners in complete control of their properties, in regards to what rules they place around tenants for cigarette and marijuana consumption.

The government said these changes to legislation were made to address the concerns of landlords around how marijuana will affect the rental process, especially concerning evictions if the landlord does not want cannabis to be consumed on the their property.

As landlords in the city have had time to assess the change, the rules about which rental properties you are allowed to smoke in are still cloudy.

Regina’s biggest housing renter, Boardwalk Rental Communities released a statement saying “We will continue to work with tenants to accompany their needs, as well as the needs of the tenants in close proximity to those who choose to smoke marijuana in our smoking rental units. As for our non-smoking units, which make up the majority of our rental properties in Saskatchewan, smoking of any kind will be forbidden.”  

Remai Group, a large scale condominium renter in Saskatchewan refused to comment saying “We’ll have a better idea of where we stand on the matter at a later date.”

Sky Harbour Estates, one of Regina’s largest apartment complexes said “We [Sky Harbour Estates] do not currently believe the use of marijuana in our properties will become an issue, and if it becomes an issue, we will work with the tenant to solve the problem.”

Before the revision to the Residential Tenancies Amendment Act, any smoking rules issued by the landlord had to be outlined in the lease, which was a binding agreement between the two parties.

But with the new amendments, landlords can now change the smoking provisions on the lease at any point in the contract. Meaning that just because it doesn’t say marijuana can not be grown or consumed within the rental unit, does not mean it will stay that way forever.

And if marijuana is grown or consumed on a non smoking property, issues with the landlord can arise.

As it stands, the current law states that if a tenant is found to be consuming marijuana inside or in close proximity of a non smoking rental property, the landlord must give the tenant reasonable time to fix the problem. The solution may come in many forms, such as better airflow through the unit, or reduced consumption, if the landowner chooses to allow the tenant to smoke.

However, if the solution does not meet the landowners approval, the tenant can be evicted from the property after the traditional one month eviction notice.

A special claus in the The Residential Tenancies Amendment Act that states that if the tenant and the landlord are living in the same rental complex, the landlord only must give a written warning if they choose to stop the tenant from smoking or growing cannabis. Any additional consumption or growing after the warning, and the tenant can be evicted without notice.  

Devon Amey currently rents a small two bedroom house on the north end of Regina from a private landlord. He plans on smoking marijuana once it becomes legalized, but says he is worried that at some point he will not be able to do it in his home.

“I’m currently allowed to smoke,” Said Amey.

“But if that ever changes, where am I supposed to do it?”

In other provinces such as Ontario and B.C. the new laws surrounding the consumption and growing of cannabis in rental units state that the landlord must first prove that the smoking has caused issues within the rental complex before serving the tenant and eviction notice. There are many ways to do this, such as claiming the property has become devalued the property or that members in close proximity have issued complaints. However, In those provinces, the act of consuming or growing marijuana is not enough by itself to evict a tenant.

In Saskatchewan it is.

As the national legalization of marijuana approaches, future tenants should communicate with their landowners early in the rental process if they are thinking about smoking marijuana or growing a few plants.  

As it stands, some landowners are going to be more lenient than others.

We don’t see it becoming an issue,” said Sky Harbour Estates communications representative, Sara Peterson.

“If anything, I think our residents are pretty excited.”