Can your landlords evict you for smoking cannabis on their property? In Massachusetts, landlords do have the right to evict you if you “smoke” but they do not have permission to evict you for possessing or consuming it. But that doesn’t mean that some landlords aren’t trying.
Some landlords in MA are trying to ban all forms of cannabis consumption, whether eating it or simply possessing it on the property. Some of these clauses include, “immediate eviction” which have left some tenants on edge about where they can and cannot smoke.
With legalization comes different problems and while previously, these laws may have been overlooked due to the illegality of cannabis. However, when a substance is legally permitted within a state it may clash with the property rights of landlords.
This puts tenant and landlord at odds which is not the ideal situation when talking about the place where someone needs to feel safe and secure — their home.
But it also creates an interesting debate: Who has more power in this situation? After all, tenants are living on the property of landlords and within the context of “property rights” – the landlord does have a right to ask a tenant to refrain from certain activities.
This doesn’t mean that it’s right and, more importantly, unless you are spying on your tenants, it would be very difficult to enforce. Yet some landlords believe it’s their duty to deter people from smoking weed on their property.
Misconceptions about cannabis
One of the primary reasons why landlords do not want cannabis in their homes is because the “smoke” might damage the property, meaning there is a devaluation of the asset. This, however, hardly happens. People don’t smoke nearly as much weed as they do tobacco in terms of frequency. Whereas a cigarette is far more compulsory than a joint, cannabis smoke does not impregnate as much as tobacco.
This isn’t to say that it doesn’t smell at all. On the contrary, it can be dank indeed.
Another reason landlords are ware of cannabis consumers are because of the “fear of cultivation”. Under US law, if a “crime has been committed on a property, the property can stand trial”. In other words, the landlord may have their house stand trial if you get busted for pot.
They may also fear damages from inexperienced growers trying to crop out indoors without knowing how to properly regulate humidity levels.
All of these are valid reasons, yet at no point puts the liberty of the tenant in the picture. After all, why do you pay a security deposit if you can’t do anything on the property.
Sure, cannabis is still federally illegal, but we’re at a point in time where more people are in support of cannabis and the law-enforcement route is dwindling.
Finally, landlords are projecting their fears on their tenants, assuming they are druggies and will simply mess everything up. This is frankly quite offensive. It’s a hasty generalization that plays into old stereotypes promoted by “das government.”
Are cannabis users bad tenants?
Let me ask this a different way: Are those who drink an occasional glass of wine bad tenants? How about those who eat doughnuts? Not sure how to answer that one? That’s because you can’t define someone’s moral compass based on what they eat, drink or smoke.
Of course, you can infer that “tobacco smoke” may cause some smells to impregnate into the structure of your house, and because of that reason Massachusetts landlords do have the right to evict someone if they violate the “smoking ban” which is upheld by state law.
Beyond that, to ban residents from consuming any form of cannabis is playing into the stereotype that cannabis users are “less than” their non-smoking counterparts. This is interesting because one would think that these landlords would also have a qualm with alcohol, which is responsible for up to 40% of all violent crimes and is a heavy influencer in spousal abuse, child abuse, etc. One would think that landlords would prefer to avoid “child beatings” on their property, but there has been no move or interest from these same landlords to ban alcohol consumption on their properties.
Sure, this is an exaggerated point of view, but increasingly, being against cannabis consumption is becoming as ridiculous as banning alcohol and it’s time that we embrace cannabis on all fronts. This includes allowing tenants to consume cannabis or at the very least create a place for them to consume.
This is a human rights issue that clashes with private property rights. It’s difficult for sure because the libertarian in me says, “The landlords have the right to do whatever they want on their property” and I wouldn’t want the government to take away that right and force them to do anything.
On the other hand, cannabis consumption does not indicate bad tenants; there is no inherent risk of damage to your property.
So I guess if you are a landlord and want to be an ass, it’s your right to be so. But I hope the market simply avoids your property since you’re still living in the 1980s.