Last week marked a significant change in state level drug legislation as Oregon and Alaska voted to legalize recreational marijuana in the November election. While Oregon’s and Alaska’s state governments develop regulations for personal possession, cultivation and use of marijuana, property managers and landlords are tasked with reevaluating their lease terms and conditions pertaining to marijuana use on their rental properties.
The new legislation stipulates that property owners are still able to establish conditions regarding marijuana use on their properties. As a property owner, if you decide to prohibit marijuana from your rental property, updating your lease and providing a marijuana specific lease addenda is the best way to handle a tenant related dispute, should one arise on the issue.
Reasons behind prohibiting legal marijuana use on rental properties stems from wanting to protect your property. The biggest concerns revolve around decreasing property value and potential damage to your property. The new laws will allow persons 21 years or older to possess, use or grow marijuana for personal use. Property value has the potential to decrease if neighbors complain about smells associated with cultivating or smoking pot. And potential property damage risks include mold created from high humidity conditions needed for growing the plants indoors or potential fire danger from grow lights.
Another point to consider as a property manager or landlord relates to the fact that marijuana is still considered an illegal drug on the federal level. As a landlord, if you know drugs are being produced or distributed on your property, you could have to forfeit your property. Landlords in Oregon and Alaska can look to Colorado and Washington State as examples for how to oversee landlord/tenant marijuana issues-both states passed similar measures in 2012.
The good news is, property managers and landlords have a little bit of time to handle these changes. Conditions within the approved ballot measure include a timeframe for state governments to establish regulations for how to manage recreational marijuana before it becomes officially legal. Recreational marijuana does not become legal in Oregon until July 2015 and Alaskans must wait 90 days after the election results are certified before use is legal.
As a landlord, you should carefully review your rental criteria, lease documents, and rental policies to make sure they are clear on issues relating to marijuana use, possession, and cultivation. To ensure your policies are legal and enforceable it is smart to have your documents reviewed by a competent state specific real estate attorney.
Are you a landlord or property manager in Oregon or Alaska concerned about the new marijuana legislation? How to do you plan to manage your tenants recreational marijuana use?
The information and materials provided in this blog post are intended for general information purposes only and are intended to be legal advice. If you require legal advice please consult a competent attorney licensed to practice in your jurisdiction.