Jessica Bell MPP, University–Rosedale

Government of Ontario

ACT NOW: It's time for affordable home co-ownership

Published on February 27, 2024

Costly rent and housing prices have made it more difficult for first-time home buyers to save up and buy a home. The high cost of housing has also made it hard for many existing homeowners to afford very high mortgage payments and keep their home. After five years of Conservative rule, it’s never been more expensive to rent or buy a home. 

To keep the dream of home ownership alive and healthy, I believe we need to take the best ideas from other states and provinces and apply them here right in Ontario. 

That's why I am calling on Ontario to come up with a plan to make it easy and inexpensive for people to pool their savings, buy a property, duplex, triplex or fourplex together, move into their own individual home and share common areas. 

It's called co-ownership. BC permits this, as does Quebec, Seattle, Texas, and California.  

The property can take the form of a condominium where each household owns their home and has their own mortgage, and common areas, such as a garden, are shared with all residents who live on the property. A property can also be severed, which means a section of the property, such as a laneway suite, is sold off as a separate home. 

Helping people buy missing middle housing together is a very practical way to help people get into the housing market and buy their first home because it's cheaper. Duplexes, triplexes, and family-friendly sized apartments are hundreds of thousands of dollars cheaper than semi-detached and detached single family homes.

Existing home owners who are struggling with the upkeep or mortgage payments can also choose to sever or stratify their property, maybe selling off a laneway home for their adult child and family to move into.

Building more townhomes, duplexes, triplexes and apartments in towns and cities is a great way for our province to plan. It means we can meet our housing needs and protect our farmland and Greenbelt at the same time. It’s also cheaper for municipalities to provide upgraded and improved services and infrastructure, like transit, schools to parks, to areas that are being densified compared to servicing a new development of single-family homes.  

In Ontario, it is expensive, time-consuming, risky, and cumbersome to sever or stratify a property and spur co-ownership of homes. Home buyers must craft their own legal arrangements at great expense to cover common matters, including selling, paying for maintenance, and governance. There are many expenses, including a very high Draft Plan of Condominium Approval Fee of just over $10,000 to secure approval to establish a condominium structure. This fee was priced for big condo construction, not a triplex. People often must secure a joint mortgage, which means they’re on the hook if the other person doesn’t pay their share. There can also be challenges if one person wants to sell, which can force the remaining household to refinance at a higher interest rate and home appraisal rate or sell. 

Making home ownership more affordable is just one of many steps we need to take to fixing our housing crisis.  We must spur the construction of more affordable townhomes, duplexes, triplexes and apartments in towns and cities. That's why I've introduced motions calling for higher density in areas already zoned for development.   It is also essential that Ontario build thousands of affordable homes on public land, clamp down on speculative activity, and protect renters by bringing in strong rent control.  

Learn more and take action.

  • Here's a policy brief explaining the Missing Middle.

  • Here's a recent report by Karen Chapple and Ahmad Al-Musa from the School of Cities at the University of Toronto on stratifying the Missing Middle.

  • Here are some real examples of what we're calling for.

  • Send a message to the Ontario government asking them to make it easy and inexpensive for people to buy a home together and convert it into two or more separate homes with shared common areas. We strongly encourage you to share your personal story. We get a copy of your message too, and we want to hear your experience. 

  • Here's the exact text of the motion. 

    "The Legislative Assembly of Ontario calls on the Ontario Government to develop a plan to make it quick, easy and affordable to stratify and/or sever a property on a residential lot with the goal of enabling people to buy and live in separate homes on one property, and that this plan should include, but not be limited to, the creation of standard purchasing agreements, legal templates, a dispute resolution process, a tenant protection and relocation plan, and proposed regulatory and legislative changes to the Municipal Act, the City of Toronto Act, the Condominium Act, the Ontario Building Code, and the Planning Act."