Montreal’s real-estate market is about to eclipse Vancouver’s

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Vancouver is on pace to lose its status as Canada’s second largest housing market to Montreal.

While still Canada’s most expensive city for housing, a recent collapse in sales has led the value of real estate transactions substantially lower. That leaves Montreal’s soaring market poised to overtake the Pacific coast city’s.

In January, the total dollar value of real estate transactions in Vancouver fell to $1.7 billion (Canadian) on a seasonally adjusted basis, the weakest level since 2013 and down 42 per cent from a year earlier, according to data released Friday by the Canadian Real Estate Association. Meanwhile, the value of transactions in Montreal reached $1.63 billion to start the year, an increase of 18 per cent from last January. Montreal — which has much cheaper homes, but more transactions — hasn’t been this close to Vancouver since 2008.

Montreal is the business capital of the largely French-speaking province of Quebec and Canada’s second largest city by population. But it was left out of the boom that saw home prices in Toronto and Vancouver surge to levels that made those cities unaffordable and prompted a rush of regulations to slow down them down.

These measures have included new regional taxes on foreign buyers in Toronto and Vancouver that aren’t in place in Montreal. Higher interest rates and tougher rules for mortgage lending also seem to be having the biggest effect on the country’s priciest markets.

January saw home sales in Montreal climb the fastest in a decade as lower prices and a booming economy lured buyers. Sales in the city advanced 7.1 per cent from December, the fastest pace since May 2009, and the number of units sold reached a record. Montreal’s gains are well ahead of identical moves in Vancouver and Toronto where sales rose 1.2 per cent, and double the national increase of 3.6 per cent.

There’s far less concern Montreal will show the signs of overheating seen in Canada’s two other major cities, given price differentials.

“Much of the recent price appreciation and sales increases, that really reflects the strength of the economy,’’ Marc Desormeaux, an economist at Bank of Nova Scotia, said by phone from Toronto. “Montreal remains relatively affordable.’’

Montreal’s benchmark home price was $349,300 in January, up 6.3 per cent from a year earlier. That’s still far less than the Vancouver price of $1.02 million, which is down 4.5 per cent.

Canada’s largest city Toronto still has by far the most real estate transactions, reaching $5.4 billion to start the year, albeit greatly reduced from the $8.5 billion in activity seen at the beginning on of 2017.

Condo Renovations & Improvements: 3 Things to Know Before You Begin

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Condo improvement projects and renovations are exciting endeavors that can have a major positive impact for years to come. Whether you’re looking to upgrade your living space or you’re looking to add value to your condofor a potential sale, these projects shouldn’t be taken lightly or without proper planning. Before you begin any projects that require a substantial investment up front, consider these three things.

1. Know the Rules.

When you purchase a condo, you’re required to join your community’s condo association and pay annual or monthly fees for upkeep of shared spaces. With this nature of community in mind, you must also be aware of the rules in place for any remodels and home improvement projects. These requirements are in place to prevent condo owners from attempting DIY projects they are not capable of doing or hiring contractors who may cause long-term problems with subpar work either to the owner’s or neighbor’s property.

Before beginning any renovations, get in touch with your association to determine what steps are required of you before you begin. For example, some may require you to submit an architectural change form detailing the scope of work and the credentials of the contractor you plan to hire.

Condo associations can issue heavy fines or take legal action if you disregard their requirements. Follow the rules right from the start to save you a major headache down the road.

2. Consider the materials you’re using (or disrupting).

We like to think that our living spaces were built and designed with our safety in mind. But as many of us know, construction materials have a history of being detrimental to our health. Especially for residences built before 1978, lead-based paint remains a concern due to its link to developmental problems and kidney damage among other issues. As the only known cause of the aggressive cancer mesothelioma, asbestos is another prominent concern; its use in building and construction materials has even spurred on many legal claims for those exposed.

Before beginning your renovation project, consider the materials you may be using or that you may be disrupting in the space you’re tackling. Asbestos is considered a major health risk only if it is disturbed; construction on any existing condo infrastructure could lead to this disturbance.

Other material ingredients to be aware of before remodeling include but are not limited to:

  • Formaldehyde (found in adhesives, plywood, and certain insulation)
  • PVC (found in pipes, window fabrication, and flooring)
  • VOCs (found in solvents, paints, and protective coatings)

3. Know When to Hire a Professional 

Perhaps the most important thing to consider before beginning condo renovations is whether or not you should hire a professional. Since these projects often require a substantial amount of monetary investment, it’s wise to think twice before tackling something on your own. In addition to adhering to your condo association’s rules, make sure to keep the following in mind:

  • Do you have the knowledge and skills for the project?

    • It can be costly and a major inconvenience if you accidentally mess up on a home improvement project. Paying a professional is likely the safest route to take if you don’t have the skills or the knowledge.
  • Is it safe for you to tackle the project?

    • Major home improvement projects can also have dangerous consequences if the proper safety precautions aren’t taken. For example, if you’re not familiar with electrical work, don’t attempt any electrical projects since the job could put your life at risk.
  • Do you have the time to complete the project?

    • Home improvement projects aren’t just a financial undertaking; they can also take a lengthy amount of time to complete. Before you commit to doing anything yourself, make sure your schedule can accommodate the work.

 

Whether it’s a large or small project, home improvement work is always an exciting undertaking. By keeping the above three things in mind before you begin, you’ll have a solid idea of what’s involved in order to decide on the best course of action.

5 Upgrades That Add Big Value to Your Condo

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Whether you’re getting ready to put your condo on the market or just looking for ways to add value to your home investment, it’s important to consider upgrades. As you probably know by now, not all upgrades, renovations, and remodels are created equal — some will offer great returns (sometimes you can even recuperate more than 100% of what you spent) while others will ultimately cost you more money in the long run. So, which upgrades actually do add big value to your condo? We did a little digging, and the pros all say that these 5 are your best bet if you want to see your money well spent.Bathroom Renovation 

Couple looking sink in furniture shopNothing can turn away a potential buyer or lower the value of your condo faster than an out-of-date bathroom that needs some serious TLC. In fact, the professionals recommend (if you’re got the money to spend) focusing on the bathroom and kitchen and over-all house maintenance above all else.  (If the walls need painting, paint. If the floor is cracked, fix it, and so on.)  The return is usually rock solid, usually 100% in solid Real estate markets and more in competitive-buyer markets.

But, a note of caution: Don’t go over the top. The tendency for condo-owners who can afford to do a total overhaul is to go for luxury. But, professionals warn it’s a mistake. If you’re selling, keeping the design more neutral is preferable to installing finishes that a potential buyer may not personally like as much as you do. If you’re planning on staying, there’s some wiggle room, but think twice about your future selling risk if you end up going with those top-end fixtures and that custom, Tuscan-inspired tile. They could end up hurting your wallet more than helping it.

Hardwood Floors

Although often overlooked, floors are a major selling point for your condo. It’s a less costly investment, but the return is usually positive, typically falling between 80-100%, and realtors say that homes with hardwood floors not only sell faster, but for more money. If you’re looking for a small upgrade that’s beneficial whether you’re staying or going, you can’t go wrong with installing a classic hardwood throughout your condo! Hardwood floors are much easier to deal with than pesky carpet, and better for allergies, too.

The trend now is plank flooring, so if you already have hardwood floors but they are dated-looking, brown parquet kind, do you need replace the floors? Our experts say no. They recommend that you upgrade the look by refinishing the floor and staining it with a more modern dark ebony stain.

Kitchen Remodel 

Like we mentioned above, bathrooms and the kitchen are major considerations when you’re trying to sell or add a little value to your condo. If you’re kitchen needs some work and you’ve only got a little to spend, focus mainly on giving the room a facelift — paint the cabinets, install new fixtures, replace the faucet and sink, and update the appliances if you can. If you can afford a major renovation (and the kitchen needs it), again remember that it’s key to keep things simply and stylish, not tailored to your personal taste and your taste alone. If done right, it’s likely you’ll make up all that you’ve spent (sometimes more) if /when you sell in the future.

Be careful and don’t get carried away with the upgrades. If you improve beyond your location and the type of condo you have, the buyers are not going to reward you. That Wolf range in a small starter condo, probably will not pay off.

New Appliances

Since most people don’t want to have to buy new appliances when they move into their new condo, purchasing a place that has matching, modern appliances is a big deal in the buyer’s mind. If you have old, worn out appliances, replacing them will help add value and increase future sale potential. If they’re a decent age, but don’t all match or need sprucing up on the outside, contact the manufacturer about purchasing new, matching panels.  Keep in mind that with dishwashers, the panels are often white on one side and black on the other, so you may already have a matching panel to turn over.

Added Storage

Storage is an important part of your condo’s desirability in the eyes of buyers, and adding some definitely is a added bonus for you too, if you stay. So, whenever and wherever possible, the professionals in the buying and selling market suggest that you add storage where you can — expanding a closet, adding a closet where one is clearly needed, and remodeling a space that’s awkward (like a reading nook that’s too small for use) are all good ideas that bump up the value of your condo and make it more likely to sell.

Fellow condo owners, weigh in. What upgrades have proved to be great overall investments for you? Share in the comments below!

How Canada’s Mortgage Stress Tests Have Spiked Toronto Condo Prices

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The Canadian federal government introduced new mortgage rules in the fall of 2016 to combat rapidly increasing home prices – but have they driven up condo prices instead?

In October 2016, Canada’s Department of Finance introduced a significant change to the mortgage qualifying requirements for buyers with less than a 20% down payment (known as a ‘high ratio mortgage’). Under the new rules, banks would have to calculate the maximum mortgage payment a home buyer could afford based on a new stress test rate which was based on the bank’s posted rate which was typically 2% higher than the discount rate that most buyers actually receive.

For example, buyers in September 2016 were being approved for a mortgage based on an interest rate of roughly 3% and two months later their pre-approvals were based on an interest rate of 5%. This effectively slashed a home buyers budget by roughly 20% because it reduced the mortgage amount they qualified for by that much.

One of the intended goals of this policy was to help cool down the rapid increase in house prices, in particular in cities like Toronto and Vancouver but when we look at the data for Toronto, it actually had the opposite effect for the one house type that was still within reach of most first-time buyers – condominium apartments.

In January 2012, the average price for a condominium apartment was $321,475 and by the time the Department of Finance introduced this new mortgage stress test prices had climbed to $429,407 in October 2016.  A 34% increase in just under five years.

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Since then, the average price for a condo climbed to $559,343 in April 2018, a 30% increase in just a year and a half since the stress test was introduced.

Rather than dampen demand and help cool prices the mortgage stress tests actually inflated demand in the condominium market and caused bubble like appreciation because the stress test pushed many first-time buyer’s budgets down making condominiums the only affordable option for them.

Some might argue that this is demonstrates why governments should not meddle with the housing market and should just let the market correct itself.  But I disagree.

The problem wasn’t that the government tried to cool the housing market, it’s that they tried to do too much, too late and likely targeted the wrong group of people.

Despite what finance ministers say publicly, the truth is that they are all addicted to the positive side effects that accrue when consumers take on more and more mortgage debt.  Mortgage debt fuels the entire economy. It fuels new housing construction, it drives home renovations and it drives consumer spending as people feel comfortable spending more than they make when they could just add their spending to their Home Equity Lines of Credit (HELOC) at minuscule interest rates.

The economic highs that come from rising mortgage debt make it hard for finance ministers to do the responsible thing and take action early to cool the debt binge. Instead, they wait till it’s too late, when the debt levels are so out of control that they need to take very drastic measures to cool things down – like increasing the qualifying rate for mortgages by 200 basis points (2%) overnight.

Dramatic policy changes are going to have dramatic effects on the housing market. It’s unfortunate that the federal government’s stress tests have made condo prices less affordable and more vulnerable than before.

Waiting For A Toronto House Price Crash? You’ll Be ‘Disappointed,’ RBC Says

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A recent poll found that half of Torontonians are hoping for house prices to fall, but a new report from Royal Bank of Canada basically says “don’t hold your breath.”

The modest price gains seen in Toronto and Vancouver in August are a “sign of things to come,” RBC senior economist Robert Hogue wrote in a client note.

After year-on-year declines for much of 2018, home sales in Toronto started rising again this summer. They were up 8.5 per cent in August, compared to the same month a year earlier, according to statistics released last week by the Toronto Real Estate Board.

After some downward pressure, prices appear to have stabilized. The average selling price for all housing types in Greater Toronto sat at $765,270 in August, up 4.7 per cent in a year.

“Area buyers hoping that last year’s Fair Housing Plan and this year’s stress test would bring about big price breaks will be disappointed,” Hogue wrote.

“In fact, several of them came to that realization earlier this summer (in light of steady month-to-month increases over the spring) and jumped back into the market.”

While that may be welcome news to homeowners worrying that the growth in the value of their homes has come to a standstill, it’s a disappointment to the half of Toronto residents who — in a recent Angus Reid poll— said they’d like to see house prices fall.

More than a quarter said they’d like to see an outright price crash, of 30 per cent or more. A majority of renters said they are considering leaving the citybecause of housing costs. That’s a sign of the frustration potential homebuyers are feeling in a market where house prices have long grown faster than incomes.

But though they hope for a correction, few poll respondents hold out hope it will actually happen. Sixty-two per cent agreed that government policy will not be able to make Toronto housing affordable “no matter what.”

Construction slowdown

Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. reported a surprise decline in the number of new homes starting construction in August. The annualized rate of construction fell to just under 201,000 housing units, down from nearly 206,000 in July, according to data released Tuesday. Economists had been predicting a pick-up to around 210,000.

The largest pull-back was in Ontario, while British Columbia has seen a mild rebound, though construction is still below the frenzied pace of 2016 or 2017.

Economists expressed mixed views on the construction slowdown, with some saying the pace of construction is just returning to more sustainable levels from excessive heights.

“Despite two monthly declines, robust levels of residential construction continue in Canada, with a 27-year high for population growth supporting the strength,” Bank of Montreal senior economist Robert Kavcic wrote in a client note.

“While not all regions of the country have experienced the same price pressures as Toronto and Vancouver, many are seeing heightened building activity.”

But CIBC economist Royce Mendes suggested we can expect to see a somewhat slower housing market ahead.

“A more sluggish pace to homebuilding is in line with our expectation that higher interest rates and tighter lending standards turn this former stalwart of growth into a drag on the economy,” Mendes wrote in a client note Tuesday.

Cost of condo rentals continues to rise in Mississauga

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Rental rates for condos in Mississauga continued their ever-upward trend in the third quarter of 2018.

According to the Toronto Real Estate Board’s latest quarterly tracking report, the average monthly cost to lease a one-bedroom condo in Canada’s sixth largest city rose to $1,962 between July and September.

The Toronto Real Estate Board doesn’t expect the upward trend in Mississauga’s rental rates to stop anytime soon without government intervention.
The Toronto Real Estate Board doesn’t expect the upward trend in Mississauga’s rental rates to stop anytime soon without government intervention.  (ROB BEINTEMA/METROLAND / ROB BEINTEMA/METROLAND)

That represented a 3.8 per cent increase over the second quarter of this year and a year-to-date spike of 9.4 per cent from the $1,794 average monthly rate recorded in the first quarter of 2018.

The data is based off a total of 701 leases recorded by TREB member realtors in Mississauga over the past three months.

Rent for an average one-bedroom condo in Mississauga has spiked 21.6 per cent in just two years since the same quarter in 2016, when a unit fitting that description could be had for $1,614 per month.

All types of apartments saw quarter-over-quarter increases. The monthly rent for a bachelor grew 8.5 per cent between the second and third quarters from $1,500 to $1,628. The cost of a two-bedroom unit grew from $2,290 in Q2 to $2,429 in Q3, while three-bedroom condo units jumped from $2,741 to $2,807 over the same period.

“Average rents are continuing to increase at annual rates far beyond the rate of inflation in the GTA as rental demand remains very strong relative to the supply of units available. We will need to see a sustained period of time within which growth in the number of rental units listed outstrips growth in the number of units leased before we see the rental market return to balance,” said TREB’s director of market analysis Jason Mercer in the organization’s quarterly report.

TREB doesn’t expect the upward trend in rental rates to stop anytime soon without government intervention.

“Policy-makers, including those running for election at the municipal level, need to identify and fix existing policies that are hampering the ability to bring more rental supply on line. These same policy-makers also have to develop new policies that could promote the development of more rental units moving forward,” said TREB president Garry Bhaura in the report.

Condo owner on the hook for inaccurate ‘clean’ status certificate

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What happens when an owner receives an incorrect status certificate issued by a condominium corporation?

That was the issue in a case before the Ontario Court of Appeal earlier this year.

A bedroom added without consent from the condominium’s board created an inaccurate status certificate for a new owner.

Back in 2013, Dante Reino purchased a condo unit from his mother in a downtown highrise on Bay St. known as Metropolitan Toronto Condominium Corporation 723. He requested a status certificate and was issued a “clean” certificate by the condo corp. The prior owner purchased the unit in 2004 and was also issued a “clean” certificate — one that did not disclose problems.

When Reino decided to sell the unit in 2016, he obtained a new status certificate that stated that the unit was in breach of the condominium declaration.

Before Reino’s purchase, a second bedroom was added to the unit and the kitchen was relocated without the required consent of MTCC 723’s board of directors.

As a result, the new certificate warned that MTCC 723 might take steps to remove the alteration and restore it to its original layout, with the costs being added to the common expenses for the unit.

The Condominium Act says that a status certificate’s information is binding to the corporation, as of the date it is given.

On an application by Reino, the judge ruled that MTCC 723 was bound by its earlier “clean” certificates and had to issue a new certificate without the notation about the unauthorized renovations.

MTCC 723 appealed the judge’s ruling, and a three-judge panel of the Ontario Court of Appeal reversed the lower court’s decision earlier this year.

The Condominium Act, the Appeal Court wrote, “is, among other things, consumer-protection legislation. The purpose of a status certificate is obvious: it is to bring to the attention of a prospective purchaser or mortgagee matters which may be of concern to them when contemplating the purchase of a unit.”

The court noted, “We agree that the condominium corporation is bound vis-à-vis … Mr. Reino by the clean certificate it provided to him when he acquired the unit from his mother in 2013. That said, it does not follow that the condominium corporation is thereafter estopped from issuing anything but a ‘clean certificate’ in relation to a unit where it has previously provided a clean certificate.”

If a condominium corporation becomes aware, after issuing a clean certificate, of a circumstance that it is required to disclose, the “new” information must be included the next time it issues a certificate.

This does not change the fact that it will still be bound by its earlier certificate, but to omit the new information, the court said, would be misleading to a prospective purchaser.

The court added that Reino could always sue the condominium corporation if it was negligent in issuing a clean status certificate to him.

He was ordered to pay $31,625 in court costs for the initial hearing and the appeal.

While the court said the Condominium Act is consumer protection legislation, it did not offer any kind of protection for Reino in its decision and the punitive costs award. To force him into another lawsuit to recover his damages is manifestly unfair.

4 things Peel residents need to know about pot and driving

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1. You can’t drive impaired.

Though the legalization of marijuana is new, impaired driving laws are not. It has always been illegal to drive a motor vehicle while your ability to do so is impaired — whether that’s by alcohol, pot or any other drug, prescription or otherwise. Peel police officers will perform a Standardized Field Sobriety Test on the roadside. Officers specially trained as “drug recognition experts” or DREs will then evaluate the driver’s impairment. If you fail the test, you will be charged.

2. It’s just as dangerous as driving drunk

Cannabis slows your reaction time and driving under the influence increases your chances of being in a collision. The penalties for driving impaired are the same whether your abilities are impaired by alcohol, pot or any other substance. They include an immediate licence suspension, fines and the possibility of vehicle impoundment, a criminal record and jail.

3. No law yet governing how much is too much

Legal limits on how much cannabis you can have in your system before you drive won’t be set until December 2018. Peel police have ordered roadside testing devices for cannabis. Meanwhile, existing impaired driving laws remain, setting a legal limit for alcohol at 50 mg and 80 mg in 100 mL of blood.

4. Zero tolerance for young, novice and commercial drivers

If you are under 22 years old, have a G1, G2, M1 or M2 licence, if you are driving a vehicle that requires an A-F driver’s licence or a commercial vehicle licence, or if you drive road construction equipment, you cannot drive with any non-prescribed cannabis in your system. None. Regardless of what the legal limits are for all other drivers, which will be set in December (see above).

Condo developers increasingly using art to stand out and land buyers

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It would be easy to mistake the lobby of the One o One condos in midtown Toronto for a nightclub or graffiti-splashed alley.

Instead of the muted colours and cookie-cutter designs that fill many condo buildings, developer Camrost Felcorp hired Toronto artist Anthony Ricciardi to create seven murals splattered with bright paint and a rainbow of drip marks.

Anthony Ricciardi spray paints the eastern facade of a commercial establishment on Bathurst Street in Toronto, on Monday, July 30, 2018.
Anthony Ricciardi spray paints the eastern facade of a commercial establishment on Bathurst Street in Toronto, on Monday, July 30, 2018.  (CHRISTOPHER KATSAROV / THE CANADIAN PRESS)

The flashy pieces put the building in a growing group of condo complexes whose hallways, lobbies and outdoor grounds are being emblazoned with massive murals, ornate sculptures or dozens of commissioned art pieces or custom photographs.

Among the installations that have cropped up outside Toronto condos in recent years are a set of tall jagged red posts, a blue tangled rubber band-like sculpture and a handful of white whirlpool installations.

Real estate veterans say such art is an attempt by developers to bring a community feel to shared spaces, but also a bid to attract buyers. Large installations are popping up at an increasing rate, they say, because many developers are realizing their benefits after the city started encouraging builders to allocate a minimum of one per cent of every project’s construction costs on public art.

Ricciardi, a corporate finance worker in the real estate industry who only recently decided to pursue his art full-time, said so far developers have been a boon for business.

“In the next two years I have four major projects with developers and they will all include sculptural and interior work,” he said. “Developers have been doing this forever, but I don’t think enough artists or people know about it.”

Heela Omarkhail, senior manager of strategic initiatives at developer the Daniels Corp., agreed, saying her company has been attempting to raise awareness of art in the condo world by collaborating with local artists, especially those early in their careers.

Daniels turned to such artists for the two-tower, One Park Place development in Toronto’s downtown Regent Park neighbourhood. In the north tower alone, it commissioned more than 25 pieces of local art, including four sculpture installations, that filled lobbies, hallways, amenity spaces, the party room and even change rooms.

In another of the company’s Regent Park buildings, Omarkhail said Daniels hung in the lobby a quilt called Regent Park: A Love Poem — a nod to the fact that it was patched together by locals who wanted to be part of the community’s revitalization.

To highlight such pieces, Daniels often keeps the art behind a black sheath for weeks during move-in before unveiling it at an open-house night, where artists mingle with residents.

It’s even taken art to the next level by partnering with Artscape, a not-for-profit organization, to put together a musical production starring theatre stars and Regent Park locals.

It is “hard to say” whether the production or condo art convinces buyers to purchase a property, but Omarkhail figures it at least “enhances the relationship between the buyer and the building because … every art piece or plaque has a story.”

“Their sense of home isn’t the four walls of their unit,” she said.

“It extends beyond into those common spaces and really changes the feeling when you arrive in that building.”

David Moos, an art consultant for Camrost Felcorp and a former curator at the Art Gallery of Ontario, said in the development realm he is seeing a “widespread consciousness” around the value of art that includes both high-end, fine art and low-end pieces he calls “decorative.”

The average person won’t instantly see and know how acclaimed a piece of fine art is just by looking at it, but even having art in a condo building could contribute to how world-class the city it is in is perceived to be, he said.

“Some developers take pride in propelling Toronto forward and have realized the role that fine art can play and want to participate in enhancing the urban environment in the most ambitious, sophisticated and impactful way,” he said.

“Toronto deserves the best, most original and inspiring art and developers can participate in making that happen.”

Clearing the smoke on condo no-smoking rules before cannabis legalization

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With the legalization of marijuana next month, landlords, tenants and condominium owners may still be uncertain about their rights to either smoke — or prohibit smoking — in apartments and condominiums.

The starting point of a discussion about the rights of smokers and non-smokers begins with the principle that there is no right enshrined in Canadian law, including the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, to smoke tobacco or marijuana in a rental property. In a 1991 Federal Court decision, the judge wrote: “The smoking habit is far from a legal or constitutional right to which the state must pander.”

Under the 2006 Smoke-Free Ontario Act, smoking is not allowed in indoor common areas of an apartment building or a condominium. That includes elevators, hallways, parking garages, party rooms, lobbies and exercise rooms.

In addition, landlords have the right to impose on their tenants a prohibition against smoking marijuana or tobacco, and there is a separate section of Ontario’s new standard form lease which permits the imposition of a smoking ban.

Landlords cannot, however, change the rules in mid-stream and force existing tenants to stop smoking in their apartments. Tenants who rent condominium units are also bound by any no-smoking rules imposed by the condominium corporation, whether or not there is a prohibition in their individual leases.

But even if tenants are not prohibited from smoking tobacco or cannabis in their leases, they do not have the right to interfere with what the law calls the “reasonable enjoyment” of tenants in neighbouring units.

As well, landlords must use their best efforts to minimize smoke-related disturbance to tenants with sensitivities to cigarette or marijuana smoke.

In a 2013 case that went before the Landlord and Tenant Board, tenants accused the landlord of harassing, coercing and threatening them. They complained that the landlord wrongly accused them of smoking marijuana in the unit. The adjudicator found that the tenants did in fact smoke marijuana in their unit, that there was a strong marijuana smell coming from the apartment, and that the landlord did not substantially interfere with their enjoyment of the unit.

In other cases where landlords were unable or unwilling to stop smoke infiltration into neighbouring units, the LTB ordered rent reductions.

The bottom line is that there are no guaranteed outcomes when landlords and tenants bring their smoking cases to the LTB.

When it comes to tenants with disabilities, the Ontario Human Rights Code overrides the provisions of the Residential Tenancies Act and the Condominium Act. Rental housing providers have a duty to accommodate the Code-related needs of tenants who may have a disability or health problem aggravated by exposure to smoke. No doubt the courts will soon have to deal with conflicts between these tenants, and those who have the right to smoke medical marijuana for health reasons. Both parties are entitled to protections under either the Human Rights Code, or the Residential Tenancies Act, or both.