Can I Say ‘No Pot In My Apartments’ When It’s Legal?

Can I Say 'No Pot In My Apartments' When It's Legal?

When you’re a landlord, you have a lot of things to think about, especially when it comes to your tenants. You want to make sure you have the right people in your units and that they’re following the rules you’ve outlined. Of course, there is always the question of what rules you can and cannot enforce on your tenants. Previously, landlords never had to worry about banning marijuana in their units because it was illegal, and tenants understood that it fell under the rule banning illegal substances. 

Now, however, marijuana has become fully legal in ten states, including California. If you’re a landlord in a state where marijuana is legal, you might be wondering if you can still ask your tenants not to smoke while in their apartments. Here’s what you need to know. 

It’s all about the lease

For landlords, it’s absolutely vital that you make sure every rule you want your tenants to follow is outlined clearly in their lease. A court will almost always side with whatever the lease says because the lease is a contract between a landlord and a tenant. If your lease says that tenants are not allowed to use illegal substances in your units, such clause will still ban the use of marijuana since it is illegal at the federal level. Make sure the language of your lease is extremely clear before your renters sign it

You can use software solutions like Turbo Tenant to screen your potential renters before you allow them to move in. By using such tools, landlords can rest assured knowing they are in good positioning to find a top-quality tenant. Having an excellent lease and backing it with reliable tenants should make for a clear relationship in which both parties know what is expected of them, saving you from any potential legal issues down the road.  

What if the renter brings in a lawyer?

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Your tenant might want to hire a marijuana lawyer in California since it is legal in the state. They might feel that state law should supercede whatever language you have written into the lease. Your renter would be making a mistake here, because a marijuana lawyer is not a real estate lawyer and is looking to represent marijuana companies, not users of the product. They would also be mistaken in thinking that state law outranks federal law because it does not. 

As long as your lease is clear and explicit, you have the advantage in any situation involving your tenants. It would be in your best interest to have a real estate lawyer double-check your lease to make sure you’ve made it clear that no illegal drugs are allowed in your units. If your lease makes your rules clear, a lawyer would not even attempt to bring a case to court. 

But why ban pot in the first place?

As the landlord, it is your right to not allow certain substances in your unit, especially substances that are federally illegal. No landlord should sanction the use of anything illegal in their units. In addition, the use of marijuana in apartments can cause damage similar to that of smoking tobacco. If you wouldn’t let your renters smoke tobacco, why would you let them smoke marijuana? Landlords have also witnessed damage to units when renters attempted to grow marijuana plants. All of these damages will cost landlords time and money when the current renters move out, and they need to make the unit livable for new tenants.   

As the landlord, you should feel empowered to protect your property however you see fit. You should not allow illegal substances in your unit, as you don’t want to deal with the costly and time-consuming clean up related to smoking or growing marijuana in or around your property. Making sure your lease’s language is clear and definitive will ensure your renters are unable to smoke marijuana in their apartments. This will ultimately save you time, money, and any foreseeable legal headaches. 

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