Thursday
October 23, 2014

Medical Marijuana Issues Hazy for Single-Family Homes

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Medical Marijuana Issues Hazy for Single-Family Homes

While the legalization of medical and recreational marijuana use is making it more difficult for landlords when it comes to what kinds of rules they can impose against pot smoking, it is an even cloudier issue for single-family property managers.

“When people are renting a single-family home, they really do look at it as their home — it’s not just an apartment,” Fred Prassas, GRI, CPM, former president of the Institute for Real Estate Management, said at a property management forum Thursday during the REALTOR® Party Convention & Trade Expo in Washington, D.C.

Because single-family renters may have different expectations than renters in apartment buildings, Prassas said, property managers of single-family homes should think about approaching medical marijuana use differently. Here are a few things Prassas advised property managers to keep in mind:

  • Have a consistent smoking policy across all properties. With single-family properties, it’s easier to confine smoking to the outdoors, for example. That will reduce the effects of marijuana use on the interior of the home. But if you’re going to go that route, make sure it’s a uniform policy for all renters of your single-family homes.
  • There are more opportunities to grow marijuana plants. If you don’t explicitly state in a lease agreement what your expectations are of renters when it comes to growing marijuana for medical use, you could wind up with a grow house on your hands. “You could have five or six small plants in an apartment,” Prassas said, “but you can have an entire garden with a single-family home.”
  • Be wary of partiers. You might run into renters who claim to need medical marijuana — but they really just want to be able to host house parties. That’s why it’s important to check that your renters have documents showing they are legitimately part of a state’s medical marijuana program.
  • Do you really want to be the pot-friendly property manager? Legal pot is a major draw for renters. Understand that if you decide to advertise your properties as being pot-friendly, you’ll be getting a lot more attention from potential tenants — both good and bad ones. It may be a better bet to be more discreet about your openness to marijuana use, and work with renters on a case-by-case basis.

—By Graham Wood, REALTOR® Magazine

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