Can The Landlord Just Say No?

In North Carolina marijuana in any form isn’t legal.  It has been rejected twice by lawmakers when it has been proposed, but that doesn’t mean proponents won’t try again.  So what would it mean for landlords and property managers if marijuana were to be legalized?  Can they refuse to allow their tenants to use it in their homes?

So far in other states where the use of some form of marijuana is legal the state laws don’t prevent landlords from prohibiting it’s use in their properties.  The National Association of Realtors recommends a landlord or property manager should directly address the use or cultivation of marijuana on their properties.  For lease agreements which are already in place when the law passes a landlord may have to write up an addendum to their current lease agreement addressing the issue.

Some question remains if a judge would uphold an eviction in a scenario where (in a state where use medical marijuana is legal) a landlord attempts to evict a tenant for using marijuana in the property even if the lease stated they couldn’t.  If it was being used for medical reasons and it was legal within the state a judge may rule in favor of the tenant so as to not discriminate against the ill.  There are still a lot of questions as the laws have yet to be tested with the use of marijuana in various still being relatively new.   Last December President Obama signed a bill prohibiting federal funds being sent to prosecute medical marijuana users.  With this , landlords may lose grounds in any eviction battles as the courts may be less compelled to enforce a law the federal government is lenient on.

Right now twenty-three states and the District of Columbia have legalized medical marijuana.  Four of those states have also legalized recreational pot.  Currently, no state explicitly requires landlords to accommodate tenants who wish to use the drug at home, many of the states prohibit landlords from discrimination against medical marijuana patients by refusing to rent to them.

Landlords and property managers need to keep abreast of the laws so they know how to react with their lease agreements.


*Information from this article from REALTOR Magazine Jan/Feb 2015