Generally speaking, there are four major types of home ownership that exist in British Columbia. To help our clients better understand what each of these forms of home ownership entails, we have developed a brief outline highlighting their differences.
Freehold ownership is, in many ways, the simplest type of home ownership. In freehold ownership, the owner of the residential property owns both the building and the ground that it is built upon. This manner of ownership provides owners with a great deal of freedom regarding building design, yard work, and other aesthetic additions or renovations to the building or land in their possession. The major restrictions that a freehold owner will encounter with respect to the use of their property will mostly originate from the zoning, bylaws, and permit limitations issued by the local city or municipality. Although more and more British Columbians are moving into condos and townhouses and exploring other forms of home ownership, freehold ownership remains the most common form of home ownership in Canada.
With the rapid increase in the amount of condos and townhouses available to real estate purchasers in the Lower Mainland, strata ownership is quickly becoming one of the most common forms of home ownership in British Columbia. A strata lot owner is granted sole ownership of a specific unit or lot within a larger building or development. While the homeowner with strata title has full ownership of all the interior elements of their own unit, they also share ownership of common property that exists within the strata. Oftentimes this shared common property includes parking, amenity rooms, gym space, laneways, and the building’s entrances and exits. Strata ownership is regulated by rules agreed upon by a selected group of owners within the property that together form the strata council and, as such, is more restrictive than freehold ownership.
In British Columbia, leasehold ownership most commonly occurs on University Lands and First Nation reserve land. If you have leasehold interest in an area of land, then you have exclusive use of the property occupying that land for a designated period of time. Generally speaking, the original leasehold ownership in BC is often set at 99 years. It is important to note that this time period is not reset with each new occupant of the leasehold property. For instance, if you sell your home with a leasehold interest of 99 years after living in it for ten years then the new occupant will have a leasehold interest set at 89 years. Leasehold interests can become particularly risky real estate investments as they approach the end of their lease, as the owner of the property (often a University or First Nations Group) can choose to resell the leasehold interest, redevelop the land entirely, or leave the area vacant.
Co-operative ownership is very similar to strata ownership in the sense that individuals living within a co-op often occupy a smaller suite within a larger building, and are responsible for paying for the maintenance of property through monthly fees. Co-op members are also subject to the rules and regulations of a co-op board, which is very similar in make-up to a strata council. The major difference that exists between strata title and co-operative ownership is that, in co-operative ownership, individuals own shares of the entire building or complex rather than the interior elements of the property that they live in.
At McQuarrie Hunter LLP, our dedicated residential conveyancing lawyers can help you navigate any of the following types of ownership. Do not hesitate in contacting us for more information on how our residential conveyancing lawyers can help you.
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