Housing providers

Most life lease housing projects in Ontario are owned and operated by established non-profit and charitable organizations, including:

  • faith-based groups
  • cultural associations
  • service clubs
  • seniors’ organizations
  • housing providers

Many of these organizations provide other forms of accommodation as well. For example, a sponsor may also offer long-term care, retirement homes and/or social housing. Many life lease projects are located on the same land as these other forms of accommodation.

Most non-profit developers of life lease housing continue to own and manage the project after construction is completed.

Housing residents

Life lease housing is generally marketed to seniors and older adults. Different sponsors have different ways of defining this age group.

Ability to live independently

Residents in life lease housing must be able to live independently.

Once a resident begins to need a higher level of care than is available (from the sponsor, family members, live-in caregivers, and/or visiting support workers), the resident is often no longer able to stay in the life lease unit.

Sponsors may work with the resident to help them identify options for a new home in long-term care or another type of accommodation that provides support to seniors. Discuss these options and any other eligibility criteria with the sponsor before purchasing a life lease interest.


When assessing a resident’s ability to live independently, sponsors consider the person’s individual needs and circumstances.

Sponsors look at whether residents:

  • can do basic tasks on their own (for example, cooking, eating, dressing, bathing)
  • have access to supports that enable them to live independently (for example, regular visits by family members or support workers who help with basic tasks, ability to hire a live-in caregiver, etc.)
  • pose a potential danger to themselves or to others in the building (for example, forgetting that the oven is on, leaving a tap running)

The sponsor will discuss concerns directly with the resident. The sponsor may also request a meeting with the resident’s family and/or a formal assessment by a doctor, occupational therapist or social worker.

Ending the lease

Life lease agreements usually give the sponsor the ability to end the resident’s lease with only 30 days notice if the sponsor determines that the resident is no longer able to live independently. In practice, this is rarely used.

Under the Ontario Human Rights Code, life lease sponsors have a duty to accommodate any physical and mental disabilities up to the point of undue hardship. Some sponsors may:

  • help the resident connect with external support workers or community support service agencies
  • provide services such as frozen meal delivery, phone reminders to take medications, and assistance with bathing (additional fees may apply)

Living arrangements


Your spouse’s age should not affect your ability to buy the life lease if you are both planning to live there. In most life lease projects, either you or your spouse must meet the age criteria.


Sponsors generally do not permit life lease holders to invite their children or grandchildren to live with them. Sponsors may make exceptions to this rule.


Most life lease projects allow caregivers to move into a resident’s home. The caregiver may be a:

  • family member over the age of 18
  • professional support worker

The sponsor’s approval is needed for this.

Other factors to consider

As an informed consumer, consider the following factors before deciding to buy a life lease:

Income and assets

Buying a life lease requires a large upfront payment. When considering whether this payment is affordable, the potential buyer should also consider whether the additional ongoing costs are also affordable. These costs include the monthly fees charged by the sponsor.

Property taxes and utility bills may also need to be paid separately, as well as any costs for care and meal services.


All life lease projects have their own community environment. Before buying a life lease, a person should consider whether the existing community at a life lease project is a good match with their interests and lifestyle.

A person may buy a life lease in a project even if they are not a member of the ethnic, cultural, linguistic or religious community it serves.


All sponsors have rules that govern residents’ behaviour. For example, sponsors may place restrictions on smoking or limits to the number, type or size of pets that residents may have.


Most life lease sponsors do not allow residents to sublet their units. This is another aspect to consider when deciding whether to purchase a life lease interest.

In instances where sponsors do allow subletting, they usually require that the person subletting the unit:

  • meets the eligibility criteria established by the sponsor
  • can live independently
  • is aware of and agrees to follow the terms and conditions of the life lease agreement

To make sure that everyone is bound by the same terms, the sponsor may ask the life lease holder and the person subletting to sign a new agreement or an amending agreement.