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Life-Lease Retirement Communities

Owning a stake in your community - and future

Find leased and life lease communities

In recent years, these communities have become increasingly popular, since they meet the housing and support service challenges faced by the country's aging population. With life lease retirement communities being relatively new in the province of Ontario it is only natural that many seniors and their families have questions about this option.

There are a variety of life lease options available across Canada. Manitoba has its own provincial life lease model, regulated under its own Life Leases Act, instituted in 1999. As of 2007, life lease is a model only seen west of the province of Quebec, according to the Canadian Mortgage Housing Corporation (CMHC).

The phrase "life lease" means that once an initial lump sum is paid out as a deposit, there is very little change in rates, and the purchaser occupies the home for life, with subsequent monthly payments covering management fees, maintenance and other operating expenses. In essence, this is distinct from term leases, such as one year agreements, etc.

What makes life lease homes a popular place for seniors to move to?

In the past, life lease communities were age-restricted to people at least 55 or older, but this kind of discrimination is not legally feasible. In effect, though, these communities are intended for those 50 and older, and these communities are created where residents enjoy their retirement years surrounded by neighbours with similar tastes, needs, values, lifestyles and interests. In fact, the life-lease concept is more about creating a community than it is about building housing. As residents age, this community becomes an integral ingredient for a happy and healthy lifestyle, bringing a sense of belonging and peace of mind, as residents tend to look out for one another. Residents may also take an active role in managing the property and organizing activities and programs. This provides a sense of purpose that is not possible for someone isolated in a single family home or condominium.

  • The majority of life-lease communities are developed and owned by non-profit organizations, charitable groups, service clubs or religious institutions.
  • When a resident leaves or passes away, the lease usually can be sold to someone on the sponsor's waiting list or on the open market, or transferred back to the development's sponsoring organization. Some life-lease agreements permit the interest to be passed to the resident's family through their will. The estate can then decide whether to sell this interest or retain it for their retirement.
  • Most Ontario projects operate under a "market value" life-lease model that means the seller will earn equity when they transfer their interest, similar to selling a private home.
  • Other life-lease models, such as fixed value or declining value, vary depending on the terms of the initial lump-sum payment and the resident's entitlement to the increased equity at the end of the lease; lower initial purchase costs sometimes linked with a lower percentage share of the equity when lease is transferred or sold.
  • The sponsoring organization typically applies a percentage administration fee on sale and transfers, typically ranging from three to 10 per cent.
     

What amenities are usually available in life-lease communities?

Life-lease projects have extensive amenity areas to encourage the community aspect, like workshops, hobby and craft rooms, libraries, fitness centres and raised hobby gardens. Building designs and programming usually allow for future support services to help aging residents remain independent for as long as possible. Quality of life is enhanced through on-site wellness centres, dining rooms, housekeeping and cleaning services, personal care and transportation, among a number of services offered. With a minimal level of such services, 65 per cent of residents can enjoy their later years without moving to a retirement home or nursing facility.

Homes listed on this page may not all be strictly life lease retirement homes; some may be leased while others may be for profit. Consult each retirement residence for details, and fully research life lease before making any commitments.


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Aberdeen Gardens

Aberdeen Gardens

330 Dundurn Street South, Hamilton, Ontario, L8P 4L6
Aberdeen Gardens is a non-profit, full service retirement residence, that offers exceptional care around the clock. Here, you will feel safe and secure.
Bruyère Village

Bruyère Village

889 Hiawatha Park Road, Orleans, Ontario, K1C 0A9
Nestled in a unique community setting, Bruyère Village offers dedicated, motivated staff and a full range of support services. New apartments, new amenities, and located the the banks of the Ottawa River.
Shepherd Terrace

Shepherd Terrace

3758 Sheppard Avenue East, Scarborough, Ontario, M1T 3K9
Shepherd Terrace offers a variety of independent and assisted living suites within the renowned Shepherd Village. With its long history of providing caring service you’ll love the amenities and the excellent services.
The Manor Village at Signature Park

The Manor Village at Signature Park

1858 Sirocco Drive SW, Calgary, Alberta, T3H 3P7
This retirement home in Calgary, Alberta offers superb seniors' apartments, with amenities including a library and activities room in a luxury living environment.
Harmony Hill Retirement Community

Harmony Hill Retirement Community

1335 Benson Street, Oshawa, Ontario, L1K 0W6
Harmony Hill offers comfort, security, and friendship, as well as the full range of amenities and services that you expect from a premier, active-living community.
Villagia in the Glebe

Villagia in the Glebe

480 Metcalfe Street, Ottawa, Ontario, K1S 3N6
Residents can choose their choice of suites with views of the Rideau Canal and Pretoria Bridge. Elegant dining, spacious ballroom, an indoor swimming pool and care services to suite all of your needs. Pet friendly.
The Manor Village at London

The Manor Village at London

230 Victoria Street, London, Ontario, N6A 2C2
Park Place Seniors' Suites & Retirement Residence

Park Place Seniors' Suites & Retirement Residence

110 & 120 Central Park Dr, Ottawa, Ontario, K2C 4G3
At Park Place, we offer a carefree, vibrant, social lifestyle in a beautiful, safe, top-quality home with staff who truly care, fresh homemade meals, and in a friendly environment, surrounded by gardens and parks.
Symphony Senior Living Kanata

Symphony Senior Living Kanata

27 Weaver Crescent, Kanata, Ontario, K2K 2Z8
Enjoy the natural setting of the surrounding Kanata Lakes with access to shopping, parks and churches at Symphony Senior Living Kanata. This pet friendly community offers a variety of service packages and suites to fulfill your unique needs.
Arbourside Court

Arbourside Court

13751 - 74th Avenue, Surrey, British Columbia, V3W 1A8
This Surrey retirement home offers major shopping, medical facilities, and a seniors center, in a caring environment that encourages continued growth.
Sherwood House

Sherwood House

280 Government Street, Duncan, British Columbia, V9L 0B5
This Duncan retirement home includes active adult and independent living and features five star dining in a secure environment in the heart of Vancouver Island.

 

What do life-lease retirement communities cost?

  • Varies widely, depending on the community and its amenities
  • Generally more affordable than purchasing a similar unit in the traditional housing market due to the not-for-profit orientation of the sponsoring organizations
  • Minimum 25 per cent deposit usually required at start of construction for most projects; money is needed to build the development, so the deposit is not held in trust, as it would be for a condominium  

How should a life-lease community be assessed?

  • What do I know about the sponsoring organization? Have I considered its strengths, credibility and reputation?
  • Does the sponsor have a proven track record?
  • How secure is the project in the long term?
  • What happens to my security deposit if construction is not completed?
  • What is the redemption formula and is my investment protected?
  • Does the development have a formal dispute mechanism in place?
  • What is the philosophy of the retirement community? Do I agree with it?
  • How informative and helpful is the sponsoring organization in aiding my understanding of the specific details of this particular life-lease option?
  • If I sell, do I get back my initial investment or a percentage of it, or do I receive market value for the unit?
  • What administration fees or commissions come due when I sell or transfer my unit?
  • What amenities and supports does the community offer? Does it match my wants and needs?
  • Do I understand the rights and responsibilities I will have as a resident?
  • Do I fully understand exactly what I am buying and all the terms of resale?
  • To what extent can I be accommodated in the community if my physical or mental health fails?
  • What do my lawyer and financial adviser think about the deal?

A checklist of ‘absolute musts’ when researching life-lease homes

  • Do your research on all aspects of life lease.
  • Talk to a lawyer and a financial adviser, especially if you are considering placing the life-lease in the names of your family
  • Ask lots of questions and make sure you understand all the details of the specific life-lease option you are considering
  • Get answers in writing
  • Consider the initial lump-sum cost and whether it will affect your entitlement to retain the unit's full market value appreciation at the end of the lease

Will my life lease monthly rates really stay the same?

Life lease rates are often set by a non-profit who (by definition) has no motivation to raise rents for profit. However, monthly operating costs may go up due to increases in utility rates or civic property taxes. A non-profit life lease, though, is generally considered one of the most stable rental structures on the market.

A worst case scenario projected for a life lease in the province of Manitoba is an inflationary increase of 5% per year. Life lease focuses on operating costs only, so the monthly rate you pay is much lower than you would for renting, and an annual percentage increase still comes out much lower. A projected typical rate seen in Manitoba is $550 per month, where operating costs might (in a worst case scenario) rise to just over $635 per month over ten years. This is easily coverable through most seniors' OAS and CPP benefits. The same rental rate can increase by a total of 8% (or even more) per year (again, in a worst case scenario) and end up at over $700 per month.

Talk to friends who live in a life-lease arrangement and learn from their experiences. As noted by the CMHC, "life lease projects raise a variety of consumer protection issues," and there are also a variety of legal issues faced by sponsors, lenders and others. 

Some resources to consider and consult:

The CMHC's Examination of Life Lease Housing

Questions about life lease in Manitoba

Life Lease Resource Guide for Ontario

 

 


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