Relating to Medical Marijuana: Your rights as a Landlord

Relating to Medical Marijuana: Your rights as a Landlord

On April 30, 2014, the Hawaii state legislature passed House bill 1503 relating to medical marijuana use in your apartment building by your tenants. Essentially, the new law allows the use of medical marijuana if your tenant has a valid certificate. The BIG BUT here, however, is that if you don’t allow smoking in your units at all, smoking marijuana would also be considered a prohibited activity.

As a landlord, I have never allowed smoking, neither inside a unit nor on the grounds. The key is to make sure your house rules clearly state that smoking is never allowed. I state it two times in a lease: not just in the house rules, but also in the ‘special terms’ section, along with language about how smoking is an offense for which a tenant can be evicted. I also have the tenant initial the language after reading it aloud and asking if they have any questions. I want them to know that smoking is a big deal to me as an investor, and I want to make it clear that under no circumstances is smoking on property acceptable.

Repetition helps to insure that new tenants understand how truly important this is to the future rentability of the unit. Subsequently, this relates to the likelihood of whether their security deposit will be returned at the end of their lease, which is a pretty strong motivator for most tenants. Being firm about this policy and the possible repercussions for not following the rule are required by the new law, too. How you accomplish this is, of course, up to you.

In case you’re wondering, there are places where medical marijuana use is prohibited, even with a valid certificate. All federal housing is exempt from the allowance because marijuana use is prohibited by federal law. Also, a condo that prohibits medical marijuana in their by-laws and declaration would also be a no-smoke zone, regardless of the tenant’s need.

For more on this law and its progression through the legislature, click here