How Legalized Marijuana Affects Property Managers


If you’ll excuse the pun, it’s high time we had the talk about marijuana. If it has been legalized in your state, does that mean it’s legal to use in apartment units or rental homes?

10 states and the District of Columbia have fully legalized marijuana. Fourteen states consider marijuana fully illegal. Other states have approved it for medicinal use or both. Things get even more confusing when we consider that marijuana is illegal under federal law. That pretty much means it’s illegal everywhere, right?

That’s a tricky question, and we’re not going to answer it here. Instead, let’s explore how legalized marijuana affects property managers.

What do property managers need to know about legalized marijuana?

If marijuana is fully legalized in your state

Legalized marijuana doesn’t have to be allowed at your properties. In fact, a general no-smoking policy applies to marijuana, tobacco and vaping. This is the best way to prevent smoking in rental units. Be sure to put your no-smoking rule in every lease—a sign posted in the commons area isn’t enough.

If marijuana is legal for medicinal use in your state

Tenants with medical needs get a pass on some rental policies. If a tenant has an emotional support animal, they can get around your no-pet policy. Medical marijuana users do not get around no-smoking policies. After all, legalized marijuana only exists at the state level. It is illegal under federal law.

Property management software can help

Yardi Breeze makes it easy to add or amend lease documents. You can add a no-smoking policy at any time. Or clarify to your tenants that an existing policy applies to marijuana as well as tobacco. You can also email policy updates and reminders through Yardi Breeze.

At all times, stick to the terms of the lease and communicate with your tenants and legal advisors to work out solutions. Court is always the most time-consuming and costly option.

Options for property managers

Even if you have a hands-off style, you’ll have to take action if tenants start making complaints. Let the smoking resident know in writing or verbally. Remind them that legalized marijuana still violates your no-smoking policy. Consider sending an email through Yardi Breeze. This will help you keep track of all communication.

You can modify leases at any time with Yardi Breeze. Residents can access and e-sign amendments to their leases through their tenant portals.

You may have a case for tenant eviction. This is tricky, since a judge may give the tenant a second chance.

One thing you should never do

Never promote your apartments as being “marijuana friendly.” It doesn’t matter if marijuana is legal to smoke in your state. You probably process rent through FDIC insured banks. Promoting legalized marijuana would make it illegal for you to use federally backed banks for your business.


Please note that this article does not replace legal advice. We hope this information is helpful. Always seek professional legal advice for your specific situations.