The legalization of the recreational use of cannabis, which has been in effect since October 17, 2018, has several impacts on the rights and obligations of the parties to a residential lease in various ways. Here is a summary of the main impacts.
Legal prohibitions concerning dwellings
Cultivation: The Act prohibits the cultivation of cannabis for recreational use.
Possession: The Act prohibits the possession, in a single residence, of a total amount of cannabis for recreational use equivalent to more than 150 grams of dried cannabis, regardless of the number of occupants in the residence.
Common areas of residential buildings: The Act prohibits the smoking of cannabis in a number of places, including the common areas of residential buildings comprising two or more dwellings, and in the common areas of private seniors’ residences.
A closed smoking room where cannabis smoking is permitted may, however, be set up at such locations:
Clauses prohibiting cannabis smoking in dwellings
Just as for cigarette smoking, lessors will be allowed to include clauses in their new leases to prohibit the smoking of cannabis.
Application to the Régie to modify a current lease (section 107 of the Cannabis Regulation Act)
Under section 107 of the Cannabis Regulation Act, a lessor had until January 15, 2019, to send the lessee a notice of modification to include, during the term of the lease, a clause prohibiting the smoking of cannabis.
The lessee then had 30 days after receiving that notice to refuse the modification of the lease for medical reasons. In the absence of a refusal, the lease is deemed to have been modified 30 days after receipt of the notice by the lessee.
Application to the Régie: A lessor who has been notified of a lessee's refusal may, within 30 days after receipt of the refusal, apply to the Régie to have the lease modified.
When such a request has been filed, the parties are summoned to a hearing and the lessee must demonstrate, to the satisfaction of the tribunal, that medical reasons justify the refusal (ex.: medical prescription).
Problems with neighbours
Important! Secondary smoke, whether from smoking tobacco or cannabis, can sometimes bother the other occupants of a building.
Even if a lessee's lease gives him or her the right to smoke cannabis in the dwelling, the lessee is still required not to disturb the other lessees' enjoyment of the building. It is important to note that this obligation also applies in the case of cannabis used for therapeutic purposes.
Any lessee who disturbs the other lessees' enjoyment of the building may be liable to certain recourses by the lessor before the Régie du logement, including, possibly, a recourse for resiliation of the lease.