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Ask a Stoner: Landlords, Tenants and Home Grows

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Dear Stoner: I am a landlord who lives two hours away from our rental in Pueblo. Last week I discovered that our new tenants are using our house as a grow house without our consent. I have no problem with Amendment 64 or using the house in that manner, but that's not what we agreed on. Just wondering if you have any information or ideas for us as landlords as to our rights and how we can approach this to benefit everybody.
Baffled Near Boulder

Dear Baffled: As a landlord, you have the final say on what can and can't go down on your property. Amendment 64 and Colorado's medical cannabis laws allow people to grow pot in a home with their landlord's permission — but the laws also give you the right to prohibit growing on your property. There are plenty of reasons to go either way. While state law prevents your property from being seized by the state if your tenants end up growing more than they should and get busted by state cops, that won't prevent the feds from taking your property if they lead the investigation.

And you also need to look into local laws and ordinances regarding grow houses. In Pueblo, that can be a contentious issue. There have been enough complaints in recent months that the Pueblo City Council spent much of December passing regulations further limiting home grows. Under those new rules, growing can only take place in a "detached one-family residence" or in a detached structure if the property is multi-family (like a duplex). Grow spaces can't be larger than 100 square feet and plants can't get taller than ten feet. Most important, renters in Pueblo must have written permission from the property owner before growing any cannabis.

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Ask a Stoner

If the lease that the tenants signed doesn't have language expressly allowing them to use the house as a grow operation, then you could haul them into municipal court for violating the contract. As a cannabis-sympathetic human being, though, you know that that could bring some unwanted legal trouble down on the growers. Our advice would be to talk with them and explain the city ordinances. If they want to keep on growing, you'd be smart to propose a new lease making it clear that they have your permission as long as the grow stays within the boundaries set by the city. And if you think a higher rent would make you more comfortable with their activities, you're well within your rights to ask for it.

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