Recent changes to Colorado law have created a ripple effect through many local industries. Amendment 64 legalized the recreational use of marijuana and blurred policy boundaries that were once clearly defined in the rental industry. As a result, there is some confusion over how to best install and maintain appropriate rental policy standards.

Here are a few quick facts that are sure to help:

  • Both Federal and Colorado law give power to the property owner to determine rental property policy.
  • A smoke-free policy is still enforceable and can include prohibiting the use of marijuana.
  • Updating policy documentation to specifically reference use (or non use) of marijuana is recommended.
  • Property owners may still require drug testing as a condition of employment
According to Amendment 64, “nothing shall prohibit any person who owns or controls a property from prohibiting or otherwise regulating the possession, consumption, use, or growing of marijuana on that property.”

The struggle that the rental industry is going to face will involve enforcement of property policy. It used to be that because smoking marijuana was illegal, calling the police provided a quick and reliable resource for policy enforcement. With the change in Colorado law, police involvement is no longer a viable option. (The resident is breaking property policy but not the law.) Furthermore, court processed evictions for marijuana violations, have the potential to be less successful with a lack of police documentation and testimony.

A secondary issue facing property owners is that there may be an increase in marijuana growing operations (with intent to distribute). This would, undoubtedly, cause problems for a property owner, not the least of which are legal violations; damage to property; and the potential for increased violence in the community.

There are few easily ways to identify grow operations:

  • Blocked windows
  • Excessive bright lights
  • High levels of condensation
  • Consistent humming sound
  • Hoses running from inside house to outside
  • An odorous smell
  • Roof has no snow or frost (when neighboring properties do)
  • Frequent complaints from other residents that there is low water pressure, power surges, or spikes in utility usage
To smoothly navigate rental property ownership post Amendment 64, we recommend the taking of three key steps: create a clearly outlined rental policy reflective of the new laws, communicate expectations with residents and maintain active supervisory diligence.

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