Home sizes and styles come in a staggering number of varieties.
However, they all have unique legal ways to secure the right to live in one - and there are really only three recognized ways of doing that.
Renting is possibly the oldest way to acquire a place to live. It was also probably one of the only ways to do so in feudal times when most people worked the land for landlords.
Rent, also known as ‘lease hold’ works by obtaining a lease agreement - usually six months or a year - giving the right to reside in the space for a monthly payment.
It has remained popular up until present times in countries like Germany where it was not uncommon for rental leases to be passed on from generation to generation.
In many countries these days, real estate is as much about investing as getting a place to live. Under these circumstances landlords may choose to sell to take profits and cause rental shortages and so renters may sometimes find it difficult to renew a lease.
Ownership is the most secure way to have a place to live. 'Freehold' as it’s also called is guaranteed by registering your home at a land titles office in your name. By doing this you hold Title Deed to the property. (Condominium ownership is similar except you have less rights concerning the portion of land you own).
Because Title Deed is a cornerstone of the law of the land, ownership (also known as 'fee simple') is the strongest legal arrangement possible.
In recent times, ownership has sometimes been threatened by fraud artists but thankfully, steps can be taken to minimize this risk. Read about mortgage and title fraud.
Another way - Life Lease
Life Lease lies in between owning and renting. It has been described as ‘The stability of ownership combined with the flexibility of renting’. A Life Lease can be for a set period, 30 years say, or until death.
In exchange for a sum of money, which can be a portion or all of the value of the home (usually, excluding land) a person gains possession of a document called a ‘Life Lease’ contract and the right to occupy the space.
It has different rules of tenure than owning and the process of 'changing hands' differs too. There is no title deed involved and the physical living space does not go up for sale.
Rather, a legal agreement outlining the right to live there for a certain length of time is guaranteed for a sum of money. This legal document can be sold on for a pre-agreed sum or at market value to another home seeker who qualifies to live there when the person leaves or dies.
Life Lease projects are suited to groups of individuals, such as people over 55 years of age, who share a vision of a desired lifestyle. For this reason, Life Lease projects are often in the form of congregative living such as apartments or, clusters of villas and cottage style homes.
It's worth noting that Manitoba is the only province that has a formal Life Lease Act to date. For a very clear and explanatory article written by a lawyer who has had experience in Life Lease follow the link below. It refers to Ontario but should be generally applicable across Canada. A clear explanation