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New Cannabis Laws Have Big Impact on Rental Housing

The Province introduced legislation today to provide for legal, controlled access to recreational cannabis in British Columbia.  Of particular interest to LandlordBC members and landlords and property managers throughout BC, is the Province’s important consideration to LandlordBC’s significant and targeted advocacy specific to the consumption and cultivation of recreational cannabis in rental units. This is a significant “win” for our industry and organization, and we are appreciative for the thoughtful and productive manner in which Minister Farnworth and the B.C. Cannabis Secretariat approached our concerns. We have additional details below and there will be more coming in the future. 

Found near the bottom of the newly introduced Bill 30 is a relatively small section amending the Residential Tenancy Act. While this section of Bill 30 is short, it has significant impact on the residential rental industry. There are two changes which have been at the core of LandlordBC’s extensive advocacy work regarding the legalization of recreational cannabis in BC.

The amendment adds a new section to The Residential Tenancy Act – Section 21.1. This new section includes two important protections for landlords and tenants across BC, including a retro-active prohibition of smoking and growing cannabis in residential units. While this new prohibition is not an across the board full prohibition, it does add enough protections for landlords and tenants to ensure landlords’ rights regarding what happens in their properties are intact and tenants continue to have the right to live in a smoke free environment.

Smoking

Once section 21.1 becomes law all tenancies which already include a clause that prohibits or limits the use of tobacco are considered to prohibit the use cannabis in the same manner. Tenancies with agreements that are silent on the topic of smoking or have a clause that specifically allows smoking will be considered to allow the smoking of cannabis.

This change is retroactive to all tenancies entered into before the “Cannabis Control Date”, which is the date this legislation becomes law. Any agreement entered into after this date must include a prohibition that specifically mentions cannabis or is a broad prohibition, such as LandlordBC tenancy agreement which bans the smoking and vaping of all combustible materials.

Growing

The cultivation of cannabis in rentals units has been a major focus of LandlordBC’s advocacy efforts over the past year and we are happy to announce that due to these efforts there will be a retro-active prohibition on the growing, cultivation, and harvest of cannabis in all rental units across BC. This ban on growing cannabis in rental units is a significant step in ensuring landlords retain the right to determine how their property is used.
Section 21.1 states that all tenancy agreements entered into before the “Cannabis Control Date” are considered to prohibit the growing, cultivation, and harvesting of cannabis in the rental units, regardless of whether the agreement has a clause that already includes this prohibition.

New Tenancies Not Included in Prohibitions

Tenancies entered into after the Cannabis Control Date, which is the date this legislation becomes law, must include terms that specifically prohibit the use and growing of cannabis and cannot rely on the retro-active prohibition. LandlordBC members using our most recent agreement will already have these important clauses. Any agreement entered into after the Cannabis Control Date will be considered to allow smoking and growing cannabis unless there is a clause that specifically prohibits these actions.

Common Areas

The bulk of Bill 30 is taken up by a new act “The Cannabis Control and Licensing Act.” This new act sets our rules on a variety of issues surrounding the growing, distribution, sale, and use of recreational cannabis in BC. In relation to the rental housing industry there is a clear prohibition against the smoking and vaping of cannabis in common areas within an apartment building. This is in line with the pre-existing prohibition against smoking of tobacco in common areas of apartment buildings.

The press release from the Provincial Government can be found here.

 

 
 
 

Rental Housing Task Force Update
 

As previously advised, Premier John Horgan announced the formation of a Rental Housing Task Force for the purposes of reviewing the B.C. Residential Tenancy Act. This is intended to be a broad-based consultative process led by a task force of three MLAs including Chair, MLA Spencer Chandra Herbert. The final report with recommendations is to be presented to the Premier and Municipal Affairs & Housing Minister Selina Robinson by November 2018. LandlordBC had been informed in advance of the Government’s intention to strike this task force and our role as key stakeholder and contributor was confirmed at that time of the task force announcement. The task force will be seeking input from all interested British Columbians. LandlordBC met with Minister Robinson and MLA Chandra Herbert on April 24th to discuss the task force logistics, which we will share with you now as they are known to this point.
 
The plan is to have the consultative process done by the end of June 2018, which is quite an aggressive timeline. This will then allow the task force to work over the summer to analyze the results, conduct additional research in regard to what other jurisdictions are doing, and then prepare the report for presentation to the Premier/Housing Minister by November 2018.  The task force will begin with a direct meeting with LandlordBC in advance of the broader consultative process.  This meeting will take place mid-May, at which time we will present our initial recommendations regarding the Residential Tenancy Act and use this opportunity to pro-act to potential legislative changes that we expect tenant advocates to propose. LandlordBC is largely prepared for the initial consultative meeting with the task force, however, we will be working to finalize our presentation to ensure that it is robust. The LandlordBC Board is intimately involved with this process.
 
The task force will then run a series of community meetings (12 meetings anticipated around the province) where interested parties will be able to present their concerns and recommendations in regard to the Residential Tenancy Act. There will be some limits/guidelines concerning participation in these regional sessions; these have yet to be finalized. The locations have not been finalized either. The intention is to allow fair access to all stakeholders. As we learn more about this part of the process, we will continue to advise our members. Finally, there will be a web portal where all interested parties will be able to offer their input. Again, details will follow as they have not been finalized by the task force.
 
It is anticipated that LandlordBC will have an opportunity to review the proposed recommendations before the task force submits them to the Premier/Housing Minister.
 
LandlordBC will be publishing a position paper for all our members and the broader rental housing industry in the coming weeks, in advance of the regional meetings and web portal access, so that owners and managers of rental housing can advance a shared message to the task force. Furthermore, LandlordBC will seek to engage other stakeholders and industry sectors who have a direct interest in a healthy rental housing industry and a legislative environment that allows our industry to provide safe, secure, sustainable rental housing. This is not the time to discourage participation in our industry and, in particular, the development of new rental housing.  The rental housing crisis is directly attributable to the shortage of supply.
 
Please watch for further e-newsletter updates in the coming days and weeks. 

 

 

 

LandlordBC Supports Pre-zoning for Rental, However…
 
LandlordBC has previously expressed support for the Province allowing municipalities to pre-zone for rental housing. Currently municipalities are unable to make such a designation. It is our view that rental housing, purpose-built rental housing in particular, is a housing typology that is most desperately needed if we are to address the persistently low vacancy rates in Metro Vancouver, Victoria, Kelowna and other regions of the province. We need to provide more safe and secure rental housing options for British Columbians, and rental pre-zoning could be an important tool to encourage the development of new purpose-built rental housing. However, the devil is always in the details.
 
Read More...

 

 

 

Increases to Resident Caretaker Minimum Wage

On April 19th the Ministry of Labour announced the increases to minimum wage for resident caretaker for the next 4 years. These increases are: 11.5% increase June 2018, followed by increases of 9.5%, 5.4% and 4.1% in 2019, 2020 and 2021, respectively (wages vary depending on building size).
 
Read the whole press release from the Ministry of Labour here.

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