We have helped quite a few condominium corporations pass rules dealing with tobacco and cannabis. Systematically, the single most important question faced by boards is: What rule would be acceptable to our owners? For that reason, we have developed a tool which will allows you to get a timely and accurate reading on your community’s views on this topic. Getting that information prior to drafting any rule will undoubtedly help you strike the right balance and draft the best rule for your community.
Adopting the right rule
Boards can adopt rules aimed at promoting the safety, security or welfare of owners or aimed at preventing unreasonable interference with the use and enjoyment of units and common elements. Rules cannot be inconsistent with the declaration and, more importantly, they need to be reasonable. This is where the challenge lies. What is reasonable for one set of owners may not be to the others. Each corporation is different. In many cases, condo boards are left guessing how to strike a balance between collective needs and individual desires:
- Do we address both cannabis and tobacco at the same time?
- Do we prohibit smoking in units, on balconies or everywhere on the property?
- How do we deal with electronic cigarettes and vaping?
- Are we going to grandfather anyone? If so, for how long?
- Will our rule deal with cannabis smoking or will it also deal with cannabis growing?
Since rules are ultimately approved by owners (if 15% of them requisition a meeting to vote on it), how do you ensure that you craft a rule which will garner ownership acceptance? In many cases, the best way to tackle this is to survey your owners. In fact, the absence of consultation is often a source of discontent sufficient to derail the proposed rule. In one of our corporations, owners supported the rule but were upset at how it came about. They wanted to be consulted!
We have developed an arms-length online survey allowing corporations to canvass their owners on these delicate questions prior to circulating a rule to them. The survey is easy to use and does not require any complicated login. To ensure maximum participation, corporations can choose how long they want the survey to remain open. The information received from owners is kept confidential and only aggregate results are shared with corporations, which provides for more accurate results. Once the results are in, we generate an easy-to-follow report for the board. This reports guides the board in drafting the best possible rule and can also be a very useful tool when presenting the rule to owners.
Don’t hesitate to contact us to learn more about this service!
Time is, to some extent, running out as many are aiming to adopt the required rule prior to the legalization of cannabis, expected to take place as early as October 17, 2018. Considering that the rule must be circulated for at least 30 days and considering that a meeting of owners may need to be called on 30 days notice (if it is duly requisitioned), corporations may need to act quickly if you want your rule in place before then. In a best case scenario, you may want to circulate your rule before August 17, 2018.
After that date, you may need to turn your mind to grandfathering provisions with respect to cannabis, although, all things considered, any grandfathering period may not have to be that extensive if the corporation acts quickly after the legalization of cannabis.