Ask the Expert: Understanding home ownership in land lease communities
Words by Danielle Lim, Principal of DSL Law
Home ownership within seniors living communities share many similarities with the traditional image people may have about owning a home in the suburbs, such as the ability to benefit from capital gains. However, there are several key differences in how the ownership is structured, along with a raft of protections to ensure residents within land lease communities are well looked after.
Most people think of traditional home ownership as a house in the suburbs in which both the home and the land under it are owned and registered on the title. Structurally, a home in a land lease community may look identical to a traditional house. However, there is a key difference in how it has been built. For this reason, the home itself is owned by the resident in a land lease community, while the land under it is leased or rented from the owner of the community.
Not owning the land under your home is very different to more traditional home ownership and may initially seem like a foreign concept. However, land lease community residents are highly protected under government legislation, such as the Manufactured Home (Residential Parks) Act 2003 QLD. This Act ensures that your lease or site agreement complies with strict standards, including how your rent or site fees can be increased.
An example of the government’s rental protections within land lease communities was seen in September 2020 when special COVID-19 measures were enacted which limited the site rent increases that could be implemented during the pandemic. There are also significant protections to prevent site agreements being ended without the residents’ consent. The result of this government legislation is that living within a land lease community is a very secure form of home ownership.
Living within a land lease community shares many similarities with traditional ownership. When your home increases in value since you first bought it, you will be entitled to the capital gain, just as you would be with a traditional house. Additionally, the site fees that you pay cover the costs of community facilities, such as swimming pools, gyms and gardens, much like the body corporate fees an apartment owner would pay.
Where you choose to live during your retirement is always going to be a very important decision. Seniors now have more choices than ever before. Whether you plan on embarking on your retirement journey in a traditional home, a retirement village or a land lease community, selecting your home and your community will always be a big decision.
Take your time, research the options, talk to your friends and family, and get the right financial and legal advice to ensure the community you select is just right for your own personal circumstances.
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