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OREA urges stricter rules for former grow-ops

The association representing Ontario’s real estate agents is calling for stronger rules to protect home buyers against the risks involved in purchasing a former grow-op, a situation it argued will increase once cannabis is legalized later this year.

The Ontario Real Estate Association has proposed a series of changes it says can help ensure home buyers are protected from health and safety risks linked to grow-ops, The Canadian Press reported.

The group is asking the government to restrict the number of plants a homeowner can grow in a unit 1,000 square feet or smaller to one plant, down from four.

It also petitioned for home inspectors to receive training on how to spot the signs of a former marijuana grow operation.

Furthermore, the OREA called for steps to ensure all illegal cannabis operations are inspected by a building inspector and wants all municipalities to be required to register remediation work completed on a property.

Once legalization pushes through, Ontario will be selling cannabis in up to 150 stores run by the Liquor Control Board of Ontario to people 19 and older.

However, while Ontario landlords are looking to ban marijuana use in their rental units and several municipalities don’t want legal cannabis stores in their neighbourhoods, a recent U.S.-based study suggested that recreational pot could lift nearby property values.

Property prices for homes in Denver near shops which converted from medical marijuana to recreational pot in 2014 saw values increase by 8.4%, compared to those slightly further away, the study by professors based in Wisconsin, Georgia, and California found.

Experts said it’s too early to tell if Canadian homeowners can expect a similar effect, but note that marijuana retail locations could benefit neighbourhoods by driving foot traffic to merchants, as well as reducing crime.

“If it goes into a retail area and that spurs traffic for stores in that block or two, and they increase in value, there could be spillover to the residential neighbourhood,” Queen’s University real estate professor John Andrew said. “If you get excellent shopping and stores thriving in a particular area, people want to live near there.”

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