Obviously this is a question we get asked often enough. Just because a state legalizes a drug for recreational use doesn’t necessarily mean employers or lessors will jump on the bandwagon and open up to marijuana use on their properties. Unfortunately, there are still a lot of false stereotypes and stigma attached to the drug. So does your landlord have the right to evict you if you choose to use marijuana in the privacy of your rented apartment or home?
First, it’s important to make the distinction between how you use the drug. Your landlord has the right to ban you from doing anything that could possibly damage the apartment or house — and highest on that list is smoking any substance. Smoke can damage basically everything it touches, which is why it’s so often banned in lease agreements.
But vaping is different. Consuming edibles is much, much different. This is where state laws will most often come into play. If you get caught smoking anywhere on the owner’s property, then as a renter you don’t really have a legal right to sue (successfully) for breaking the rules outlined in the lease contract.
That was what happened to Francine and Timothy Weinandy, who had rented the same apartment for 26 years. Now in their sixties, they use medical marijuana (legally) because they are disabled. Their landlord didn’t care about their situation. He evicted them for smoking on their outdoor balcony.
Francine said, “No one deserves to have their home taken away from them because of pot.”
But the important distinction is that not only were they smoking, they were doing it on the balcony, where the smoke can technically blow indoors. Smart lessors will stipulate in the lease contract specifically where tenants can smoke, be it 10, 25, or even 50 feet away from the unit, if at all. Public opinion is veering toward legalization of both medical and recreational marijuana, but that won’t change landlords’ opinions on smoke damage.
That’s why it’s important to turn to the contract before you light up a blunt. You could be evicted if you’re not allowed to smoke, and some agreements specifically mention drug use, legal or otherwise.
Evan Loeffler heads the Loeffler Law Group and specializes in landlord-tenant disputes. He said, “This issue comes up quite regularly. I’ve represented a lot of residential landlords writing leases or dealing with tenants who either demand, insist, or deny the use of marijuana.”
Basically, tenants should abide by the contracts they’ve signed. Those who have questions or concerns should confront landlords directly, but respectfully, and simply ask. Landlords are trying to run a business, and renovating smoke damage is expensive. It doesn’t mean they’re against the use of marijuana. If you’re not comfortable speaking to your landlord, then ask a lawyer for advice.