Marijuana is now legal in the state of Massachusetts. If you’re a MA landlord, you may be concerned about how this impacts you and your properties. You may have some tenants who intend to take advantage of this new law by smoking or growing marijuana plants on your property. We thought it might be helpful to discuss potential MA landlord issues over legalized marijuana.
What is Legal in MA?
Adults over age 21 now have the legal right to possess a certain amount of marijuana, to smoke it in private, and to grow up to 6 plants per adult (or 12 per household). Since smoking marijuana cannot be done in public, people will most likely smoke in their residence. For renters, this can create some MA landlord issues over legalized marijuana.
Specific MA Landlord Issues over Legalized Marijuana
Legalized marijuana can create several issues for MA landlords. First, some landlords may oppose smoking within a property. Smoking of any type often leaves a film on walls, ceilings, etc. and can therefore require more repair once a tenant leaves. Additionally, there is a fire hazard that comes with smoking inside a rental unit. Some landlords may have asked tenants to smoke cigarettes outside. However, this cannot be done with marijuana given that people are prohibited from smoking in public view.
Another issue revolves around the growing of marijuana plants. Adults may grow up to 6 plants (or up to 12 plants per household if there are multiple adults in the home) according to the law. Plants may not be grown/kept in areas visible from the street or visible to the public. This means that plants would be kept somewhere indoors. Growing such plants would require more utilities,… electricity for proper lighting and water/sewer costs. In most MA rental properties, landlords cover the cost of water/sewer, so this expense would likely be passed on to the landlord.
Options for MA Landlords
So, what’s a landlord to do? First, smoking or growing marijuana plants may only be restricted via a lease. Since you probably already have a lease in place that does not reference marijuana, a lease addendum would be required. If written properly, you can restrict smoking and growing of marijuana plants. However, you cannot restrict consumption of other marijuana products. Additionally, it’s unclear whether vaping would be considered smoking.
It’s still too early to really know how marijuana restrictions on tenants may hold up in court, if contested. This is all new territory right now. Although marijuana was legalized, there are no specific guidelines when it comes to landlord-tenant law. As a landlord, the best you can do right now is to protect your best interests by taking proper steps to address your concerns.