Lease for Life= Life Leases

Originally published @ on June 18, 2015

I attended the Canadian Seniors Housing Symposium last week and while it was targeted to investors, builders, designers and CEO’s of seniors housing communities, there was some very interesting take away for me. The direction of seniors communities is shifting with a greater emphasis on ways to attract the younger senior. Today, many of us are waiting longer and longer before considering a move. The average age in most retirement communities is 85.
Junior seniors, are wanting larger units with extra bedrooms with housekeeping and exterior maintenance provided in standalone cottages and town houses. For some, an emergency call system as the only ‘care’ element and many want an option for dining out as well as multigenerational residency availability.

Another style of senior living, which has been gaining traction over the last few years are Life Lease Units. While they have been in Canada for over 30 years (Saskatchewan and Manitoba were the first), they are not well known. They offer independent condo living with many benefits of the services provided by the sponsor, which is often a retirement community typically owned and operated by established non-profit and charitable organizations. The available for purchase services may include meals, laundry, housekeeping, provision of personal care and other activities.
If a retirement residence has life lease suites along with independent apartments and assisted living programs, the senior could move once and may not need to move to another facility in the future. Services may be brought in or if needed, they might be able to move within the facility as the need arose for higher levels of care. Gary Zack, the speaker at the conference indicated that 65% of occupants are able to remain in their units and have services brought in while 35% have to leave in order to receive the care required.
The Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing guide book, (2014) defines “in life lease housing, the buyer purchases the right to occupy a unit for a long period of time, often for their lifetime. The buyer pays a large lump sum upfront, followed by monthly maintenance fees and property taxes. You do not own the housing unit. The life lease sponsor continues to own the property. If you pass away, your inheritors may inherit the life lease interest, but not the right to occupy the unit. This means that your inheritors may benefit from the sale of your life lease, but they cannot automatically move into your home.”
Life lease units may be a good option and well worth remembering when considering a move from the family home.

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