Life Lease Occupancy Agreements (“LLOA”) allow individuals to purchase the right to occupy a residential unit and to use the common facilities associated with it, without purchasing title to the unit as would be the case in a condominium. The arrangement has as an added benefit of more security of tenure than is the case in a rental facility.
LLOA’s set out the terms and conditions under which residents are able to occupy their respective units and use the common facilities. These terms and conditions may include rules similar to that in condominiums, including those affecting residents’ lifestyles and enjoyment of the units and common facilities. It is, therefore, wise to carefully review them before purchasing an occupancy right. Unfortunately, as Mr. and Mrs. Giroux found out in Girous v. I.O.O.F. Senior Citizen Homes Inc., 2013 ONSC 8006 (CanLII), there may be additional steps that one must take to sufficiently protect one’s rights and interests.
Mr. and Mrs. Giroux purchased from I.O.O.F. Senior Citizen Homes Inc (“IOOF”) a right to occupy a unit on the third floor of The Terraces at Heritage Square (“The Terraces”) located on 90 Dean Avenue in Barrie, Ontario, on the basis of an LLOA. They contend that they chose to occupy a unit on the third floor of such building because it was designated in the LLOA they signed to have pet-free status and residents wishing to house pets such as cats and dogs were restricted from that floor. Mrs. Giroux has a severe allergy to pets, particularly cats and dogs. Mr. and Mrs. Giroux contend that this allergy is the main reason they chose a pet-free environment in which to live.
On or about July or August of 2011, IOOF amended the LLOA to remove the provision that made the third floor of 90 Dean Avenue pet-free. The Girouxs, therefore, sought an order from the court declaring that the removal of the “pet-free” designation is of no force and effect; OR, in the alternative, an order compelling IOOF to maintain the pet-free status of the 3rd floor. The court decided in favour of IOOF, citing the fact that the LLOA is clear and unambiguous that IOOF is authorized to change the pet-free provision. The court further found that there are justifiable reasons for the deletion of the pet prohibition and, ultimately, that this is not a case of bad faith or arbitrary conduct on the part of IOOF.
Thus, the Girouxs learned the hard lesson that one should not only confirm one’s knowledge and agreement with rules existing at the time one purchases an occupancy right, but one should also duly note clauses that outline how and when any of the rules may be changed, particularly those that are critical to one’s decision to purchase such occupancy right.
If you would like legal advice or assistance regarding a residential real estate concern, please contact Andrea Kelly.
Andrea Kelly, Lawyer, has extensive experience in wills, trusts, powers of attorney and estate administration matters. She provides clients with a high standard of timely professionalism and expertise, incorporating a very thorough fact finding process. This is quite often enlightening for her clients and facilitates individually tailored services. If you would like to know more, feel free to use the easy contact form or read Andrea’s bio.