There’s been much huffing and puffing over the legalization of recreational marijuana, with various groups – including the real estate industry – calling for the federal government to postpone the roll out of legal pot consumption until clearer regulations are in place.
One of the most hotly contested issues is that of home pot cultivation; under the federal legislation, Canadians can grow up to four plants within private residences. This could lead to all sorts of unintended consequences, warns CREA, from physical damage to an unshakeable stigma that can devalue a home.
In addition to the potential for mould or electrical damage, the Ontario Real Estate Association (OREA) is concerned it will be increasingly difficult to disclose whether a home has been a marijuana grow site. And because there currently is no legal definition of what constitutes a grow-op (a full-scale operation or single potted plant could potentially be treated equally under the eye of the law), there is no official remediation standard to undo resulting damage. That can leave homeowners, sellers or buyers with little recourse should their home be blacklisted by a lender or insurer.
But are Canadian home buyers really bothered by the presence of legal pot?
According to new national survey data, when it comes to homes where pot has been puffed, buyers would rather pass. Nearly 47 per cent of 1,400 respondents across each province indicated they would think twice about purchasing a home where marijuana has been grown, even if it was within the legal limit.
Respondents from Quebec were most likely to not consider a home where pot had been present at 52 per cent (the provincial government has stated it will not allow at-home pot cultivation at all, though this could be contested at the federal level).
Forty-eight per cent of respondents from Ontario and British Columbia, where home cultivation will be allowed, indicated as such, followed by 47 per cent of those from Manitoba and Saskatchewan. Respondents from the Atlantic region were least likely to second-guess their home purchase, at 31 per cent.
Thirty-nine per cent of respondents also felt that increased marijuana use within a home would effectively decrease its value; Quebec again led respondents at 45 per cent, followed by Ontario, at 41 per cent. British Columbians and those from Manitoba/Saskatchewan both reported 37 per cent, followed by Albertans and those in the Atlantic provinces, at 31 and 26 per cent, respectively.
Thirty-two per cent of Canadians also indicated concern that living in close proximity to where legal marijuana is sold would negatively impact their property values.
As well, most respondents indicated they do not plan to grow their own marijuana at home, regardless of age group. While millennials are most likely to cultivate their own pot, at 19 per cent, 64 per cent indicated they would not, while 16 per cent remain unsure.
Seventy per cent of Gen Xers say they will not be using their green thumbs (14 per cent plan to grow, while 16 per cent aren’t sure). Boomers are the least likely, with 75 per cent indicating no, 14 per cent unsure and 11 per cent agreeing.
To address such concerns, real estate associations have made a variety of proposals to government to better provide clarity and protections for homeowners who may wish to cultivate pot, or purchase one where it has been grown.
In April, OREA brought forth a five-point Action Plan for Cannabis Legalization, which included a call for an established remediation standard. It would require a grow home’s status to be placed on title until required repairs are made, as well as improved standards for home inspectors. OREA also proposed reducing the legal limit of plants from four to one in multi-residential units smaller than 1,000 square feet.
CREA has taken it a step further and called for the federal government to hold off on allowing indoor grows altogether “until the government can enact rules and regulations for the entire country”.
Barb Sukkau, CREA’s president, laid out the association’s concerns in a statement. “We’ve heard from homeowners and tenants across the country who are worried about living beside grow-ops,” she said. “What does this do to their home values? Will this increase their rent? How safe will their kids be? Will their quality of life diminish because of the prevalence of drugs in their neighbourhood?”