Selling A Grow-Op Home - Real Estate's Latest Disclosure Conundrum

If the Liberal government has its way, Canada will legalize marijuana and the effects could be far-reaching. Even now, the issue's tentacles are already extending into the real estate market as sellers grapple with legal and ethical issues over disclosure.

Back in August, Health Canada implemented new rules to regulate the use of home grow-ups by registered medical marijuana users. Questions now arise over how much information unwary buyers should know before deciding to purchase a home that once housed the mind-altering weeds.

Pot Growth's Impact On Homes

Marijuana cultivation has the potential to really trash a home. The finicky plants require plenty of humidity and lighting, which can easily translate into mould growth and fire hazards. Then there's the fertilizer, pesticides, insecticides and fungicides - chemicals that could load a property with toxins. Some growers have even risked cutting ceiling joists to accommodate giant-sized plants. And of course, there's the smell.

The problem: many of the impacts are not immediately apparent in a home inspection.

Ontario's Disclosure Rules...So Far

Each province has its own real estate disclosure rules and court cases up until now have typically focused on the need for grow-up houses to simply show basic habitability and lack of inherent dangers.

In Ontario, pot growers can stay quiet about their activities so long as any resulting damage does not actually endanger a buyer. According to Kelvin Kucey of the Real Estate Council of Ontario, disclosing marijuana cultivation is requisite only if the property is inherently dangerous, uninhabitable or poses a risk to future occupants.

In the meantime, industry watchers are waiting for the government to reveal later this month a federal study on the legalization and regulation of marijuana. The results may provide insights impacting disclosure rules under real estate law.

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