“It is in the shelter of each other that people thrive”… Irish proverb

Land Partnerships

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.

Accessory dwelling units or two dwellings per lot are permitted in certain zones in many SouthWestern BC communities. 75% of the 56 communities surveyed so far allow some sort of cottage, laneway house, garden cottage etc. 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 this page.

Goals

This project unites a multi-disciplinary team 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.

The addition of add-on agreements can support formalized cooperation in areas like food production, transportation, renewable energy systems,  livestock/pet care, home occupations, or daycare sharing. These 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%
  • Relevance – the most direct solution with the most relevance to multiple communities
  • 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
  • Integration– Integrate more housing in existing neighbourhoods
  • Relationship– Promote effective communication and decision making
  • Cooperation– Enable added, optional sharing agreements
  • Quality of Life– Protect partners through reasonable transfer restrictions
  • Ecological Land Care– Support consistent practices in land care by both owners
  • 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

Benefits

Land partnerships, (co-owned land with individually owned homes) can empower more affordable, sustainable, and healthier lifestyles.  It can grow social connections and empower local reliance between sustainability-minded neighbours offering community and environmental benefits.

People living alone is the fastest growing demographic in Canada with more people living alone than families with children.

Land partnerships 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.

Land sharing can also facilitate more affordable sustainability at the household level through shared investment in renewable energy, water, ecological waste management and more substantial 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).

In addition,  by spending less on land homebuyers may be able to invest more in a better quality, more sustainable home.

Regulatory/Legal/Financing Considerations

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
  • Other Interests
  • Mortgage Insurer/CMHC
  • Agricultural Land Commission
  • Home Insurers
  • Title’s Office
  • Building Permit Office
  • Bylaw Office
  • Surveyors
  • 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)

Two-  FINANCING:

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

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Model Components

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).

Overcoming Barriers

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:

Governance

  • Responsibilities
  • Meetings
  • Record Keeping
  • Types of Members

Development and Planning

  • Vision and Plan
  • Initial Discussions
  • Site Development

Ownership

  • Common Property
  • Exclusive Use

Financial and Liability

  • Expenses
  • Liability
  • Realization/Repossession Procedure

Property Value/Transfer

  • Transferability
  • Property Care

Cooperation and Relationships

  • Trust and Fairness
  • Decision Making and Conflict Resolution
  • Consideration
  • Learning

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

The model will be implemented by land owner partners on Gabriola Island. 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 through an educational communications campaign.

Key Information Resources

Many 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.