What is Life Lease?

What is a Life Lease Condominium?

First Canadian life lease communities were in Saskatchewan and Manitoba. There are about 70 projects in Ontario; with another 20 to 25 currently under development with a total of over 200 outstanding projects altogether across Canada.

80 per cent of life lease communities in Ontario sponsored by non-profit or charitable groups; another 10 percent are joint ventures between charitable groups and private developers.

Owner/occupant residents purchasing life lease units sponsored by non-profit or charitable organizations in Ontario are exempt from land transfer taxes, saving an average buyer about 1.5 per cent of the purchase price of their unit. Some market value life lease communities in Ontario have seen a capital appreciation as high as 20 per cent over a few years.

As we have already outlined in “Our Project” Section “the suites are leased to seniors on what is commonly known as a “Life Lease” arrangement. The resident(s) buy(s) a “Right to Occupy” suite at a price which is 95% of the market value of the suite. The resident also pays a monthly maintenance fee to cover the costs of operating and servicing the facility. When the occupant terminates the lease and a new resident is found from the ‘waiting list’, the lessee or his/her estate is paid 90% of the current market value, less 4% administrative fee to the Not Profit Corporation.

These are very large Suites averaging over 1,000 sq.ft.  25% of the total building allocated as common area usage comparing 15% by other condominium builders.


Ontario has conducted research on legislation to regulate life lease communities, including consumer protection laws. Non-profit Groups continue to embrace these projects as a viable way to develop affordable housing for seniors, without relying on government funding.

What do life lease retirement communities cost?

Generally more affordable than purchasing a similar unit in the traditional housing market due to the Not-for-Profit orientation of the sponsoring organization.  2 Bedroom with 2 4pc washroom condominium costs about $390.000/- or more  in Toronto under the current market conditions. However, with our Not for Profit Status Corporation in place the costs will be around $290,000 to $ 320,000/- or less depending on location.

Most Popular Layout – size 1,000 + sq.ft

  • 2 Bedroom, 2 bath
  • large master bedroom with ensuite bath and walk in closet
  • open concept kitchen with optional breakfast bar
  • generous laundry/storage room
  • 2nd bedroom with ensuite
  • Large living/dining with direct access to balcony or terrace

Age-in-Place Features Design and Concepts

  • 3 foot doorways
  • task lighting
  • double sink
  • pullout pot & pan drawers
  • full pantry
  • walk-in-shower with molded seat & wand
  • 6 appliances
  • heat-pumps
  • balcony or terrace
  • plus more

3 Step Purchase Plans of Units:

Minimum 25 to 30% deposit  required at start of construction including the purchase of a 15 to 20 acres piece of land in Markham, Unionville, Richmond Hill, and Vaughan area to build the project, the deposit is not held in trust, as it would be for a condominium as this project is sponsored by a Not for Profit sponsor group.

Payment Method:

  1. Reservation Agreement (reservation deposit 50% sold) – $5,000
  2. Occupancy Agreement (deposit at construction – 75%sold – 25%
  3. Balance of Purchase Price (upon completion/occupancy) – 75%

Construction will not start until 75% of the Units have been sold.

Who is eligible to live in a Life Lease retirement community?

  • Not for Profit Communities set their own eligibility rules. Generally, they have a minimum age requirement for residents; in some developments, at least 50; in others, 60 or older.
  • Some Life Leases separate the owner of interest and the resident, with only the resident needing to meet the age criterion; this enables family members to purchase life lease units for aging relatives.
  • Typically accept both couples and single individuals without dependents, with most projects limiting occupancy to no more than two people per unit.
  • Some cater to a specific segment of the population, such as cultural or other religious groups.

How is life lease retirement homes regulated?

  • Life leases are relatively new players in Ontario and there is no specific legislation to govern them. However, all owners and occupants of Life Lease units are able to form their own Board of Directors and prepare their own rules and regulations in governing them. They also plan activities for residents on a monthly/yearly basis.
  • Sponsoring organizations must consider numerous pieces of legislation when structuring their life lease agreement and be aware of consumer protection issues.

How to assess a Life Lease community?

  • What do I know about the sponsoring organization?
  • Have I considered its strengths, credibility and reputation?
  • Does the sponsor group 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?

Please note that most answers to the above questions are already on this site.  However, we will be able to provide more Information through email  or at Information Sessions. 

Absolute musts when researching Life Lease Retirement Homes;

  • Do your research.
  • 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 if possible.
  • 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.

Benefits in Living in a Life Lease Retirement Home:

  • Living in your own community is just one Life Lease benefit.
  • Life lease housing developments appeared as a retirement home option in Ontario more than 25 years ago. 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.
  • Living in a life lease community can have many advantages: the units are less expensive to buy and maintain, they offer a solid return on investment and they often provide access to future support services. However, the main benefit is the strong and cohesive sense of community.
  • Since life lease communities are age-restricted, usually to people at least 50 or older, residents enjoy their retirement years surrounded by neighbors 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.
  • Life lease projects have extensive amenity areas to encourage the community aspect; examples include workshops, hobby and craft rooms, gardening during summer months,  libraries, fitness centers, Lawn-ball areas, raised hobby gardens, in-door bowling alleys and billiard/snooker tables. Building designs and programming usually allow for future support services to help aging residents remain independent as long as possible.
  • Quality of life is enhanced through on-site wellness centers, dining rooms, housekeeping and cleaning services, personal care, and transportation and so on. With a minimal level of such services, 65 percent of residents can enjoy their later years of life without moving to a retirement home or nursing facility.
  • Resident Jane De Bok of Grimsby sums up the benefits of the life lease concept this way: “The chance to live completely independently, yet amid like-minded people, is a cause to celebrate.”
  • Life lease communities are among the latest ownership options in retirement homes for seniors.
  • Life lease retirement homes offer mature adults – who are neither tenants nor owners – a stake in a community designed as a rewarding, supportive and affordable place to live.


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