“It is in the shelter of each other that people thrive”… Irish proverb
Our Land Partnership Collaborative is creating a Land Partnership Model that can offer lower cost, socially-connected, home ownership for two partners where zoning permits. This model will enable the co-ownership of land with individually owned homes.
NOTE: Development of our land partnership model will continue after completion of the Gabriola demonstration build.
Accessory dwelling units or two dwellings per lot are permitted in in many SouthWestern BC communities. 75% of the 56 communities surveyed by Harmony Habitat (in 2017) allow some sort of cottage, laneway house, garden cottage etc in certain zones. However, the option is under-utilized, largely due to a lack of sensible models to structure the ownership, governance, decision-making, and financing required. To read about the need for a new way of co-owning land for two partners, please see Summary of key findings.
This project plans to unite our multi-disciplinary advisors in development, city planning, governance, financing, decision-making, ecological land care, and corporate, real estate, sharing and land use law.
The objectives of the new model are based on a land sharing review and related findings. An intelligently designed legal, financial and governance structure can protect the investment, the relationships, and quality of life. The proposed model will address the need for:
- financing and insurance options that will enable partners to separate their mortgage and liability
- property, transfer, resale, and bequeathment
- division of exclusive and common areas
- decision-making and conflict resolution processes
- a balance of inter-reliance, collaboration, autonomy and privacy.
Additional add-on agreements can support formalized cooperation in areas like food production, transportation, renewable energy systems, livestock/pet care, home occupations, or daycare sharing.
The components can be optional, fluid, and designed to be as inter-reliant or as separate as desired, depending on the compatibility and needs of the partners.
The Eco Healthy Homes Land Partnership Model
The planned model will provide the following advantages:
- Co-ownership – Enable co-owned land and individually owned/financed homes
- Affordability– Enable land cost reductions of up to 50%
- Simplicity– Reduce complexity and risk and legal fees
- Current– Suit today’s social, legal, and financial contexts
- Regulatory/Institutional – Address all approvals required
- Existing Zoning– Increase density using existing zoning and improve ecological approaches to living lightly on the land
- Relationship– Promote effective communication and decision making
- Cooperation– Enable added, optional sharing agreements
- Quality of Life– Protect partners through strong agreements and reasonable transfer restrictions
- Connectivity– Support social connectivity, stable residency for health, security, and resilience
- Sustainability– Encourage shared on site eco-initiatives like sustainable energy/water systems and food production
People living alone is now the largest demographic in Canada (May 2021).
Land partnerships can offer a healthier, more ecological alternative to living alone. It can support urban and rural food production by enabling cheaper land ownership and double household food production initiatives.
It can also enable various other optional sharing opportunities that will be supported by the planned Eco Healthy Homes Land Partnership resource package (sharing transportation/childcare/tools etc). And, by spending less on land, homebuyers may be able to invest more in building a better quality, more sustainable home.
A land partnership with two separately owned detached dwellings can address the need for various approvals from institutions and agents involved including:
- Lender/ Mortgage Broker Interests
- Mortgage Insurer/CMHC
- Agricultural Land Commission
- Home Insurers
- Title’s Office
- Building Permit Office
- Bylaw Office
- Ministry of Transport
Three Part Land Partnership Model
The Eco Healthy Homes model will include the following three sections:
One- LEGAL ENTITY GOVERNANCE :
This section addresses: Ownership structure, Development and Planning, Financial and Liability, Property Value, Cooperation/Relationships, Rights and Responsibility, Common vs Shared Use, *Flex Share Agreements (optional add on)
This section addresses: Financing, Loans/Guarantor agreements, Financial Liability and Loan Agreements
Three- LAND and SITE :
This section addresses: Land Title, Ecological Covenant, Registration of Services/Roads/Access, Zoning, Variances
The tools developed will maximize relevance to as many communities and partnership scenarios as possible. They will be provided in the form of a kit of templates published online for free access. This will include the following materials:
- instructional guide
- discussion guides for would-be partners
- ownership entity template (for lawyer’s use)
- example governance agreements
- resources re decision-making/conflict resolution
- sample financing agreement and explanation
- sample covenant application
- sample regulatory applications
- sample forms for registration of title
- other supporting documents as needed
- Flex Share Agreements*
*Flex Share Optional formal sharing agreements will include fluid and customizable agreements like shared transportation, childcare, or food production. For this we will promote the tools offered by the Sustainable Economies Law Centre (SELC).
The model will help potential partners overcome the obstacles that often prevent land partnerships or cause them to fail. They include:
- the need for financing and insurance options
- problems of shared debt and liability for construction and home mortgages (i.e. joint/partitioned mortgages)
- inadequate planning for transfer, resale and bequeathment
- co-consent required for most decisions
- lack of clarity regarding exclusive and common areas
- limited autonomy and conflict
- inadequate written agreements and formal decision-making processes
Specific topics covered by the model include:
- Record Keeping
- Types of Members
Development and Planning
- Vision and Plan
- Initial Discussions
- Site Development
- Common Property
- Exclusive Use
Financial and Liability
- Realization/Repossession Procedure
- Property Care
Cooperation and Relationships
- Trust and Fairness
- Decision Making and Conflict Resolution
Ecological Land Care
- Consistent land care by both owners
- Optional covenants for ecologically sensitive areas
Land Partnership Development
The planning for the Land Partnership Model (LPM) was completed in 2012-2014. We consulted broadly with multi-sector experts, stakeholders and focus groups collecting preliminary recommendations from each. Reviewed relevant legal and governance structures/ agreements. Summarized findings. Created layperson’s draft outline of a partnership. The LPM will be developed in Phase Two of the Eco Healthy Homes Project. This part of the project will involve three stages as follows.
Stage One – RESEARCH COLLABORATIVE
The team will develop a comprehensive review of the recommendations of all consultants through individual interviews and group conference calls. An outline of the proposed LPM and an action plan will be developed.
Stage Two – DEVELOPMENT
All three components of the model (finance, ownership and governance), will be developed by the team and then implemented by Gabriolan land owners. Sample documents will be posted to the Harmony Habitat website.
Stage Three – PROMOTION
Following the pilot implementation, we will seek the financial and legal publishing support needed to create an online interactive toolkit for formal publication online. This free interactive tool will help prepare potential land partners to decide if sharing is right for them and plan their partnership documents for approval by their own legal advisors. We will then promote the option to municipalities and the public.
Key Information Resources
Pioneers in the field have been working on various approaches to land sharing. This project will draw on the research and publications by Janelle Orsi with The Sustainable Economies Law Centre, the FOG (finance, ownership, governance) project by community developer Brandy Gallagher of OUR EcoVillage (and associates) and University of Victoria law professor, Dr Deborah Curran, Farm Folk City Folk, Diana Leafe Christian, author of Creating a Life Together and several other legal and community development and research alliances in BC and beyond.
Co-housing in the form of housing cooperatives, land trusts, and other intriguing group models are becoming more common and are attracting a broad range of participants from all walks of life. Complementary tools and resources to support sharing opportunities are emerging.
The US organization, The Sharing Solution offers some instructional precedent though they do not have an attractive co-ownership model that meets the criteria for the Eco Healthy Homes model land partnership.
Of related interest is CBC’s recent Under the Influence show on The Sharing Economy (27 minutes). Real estate sharing was beyond the reach of the show yet Terry OReily makes a strong case for the growth of the sharing economy in many segments of the market. Another interesting resource is the recent Peak Moment TV episode on the topic of zoning and governance for group co-housing, Re-Becoming Villagers (28 min), featuring Brandy Gallagher and Mark Lakeman of City Repair.
Additional information resources that have been and will be key sources for this project are listed at the bottom of the Land Sharing Review page.