Co-Ownership & Home Sharing

What Is

Co-ownership is the purchase of a property by two or more parties who work together to develop a plan, share space and resources, and tailor what it all looks like to meet their needs, e.g. The Golden Girls. In many cases a house is purchased by the individuals and then renovated to meet their needs.

The emphasis is on relationships and social connections along with security, mutual support, interdependence and independence. While sharing the cost of utilities, maintenance and repairs, housekeeping, insurance and taxes, housemates have their own private suite along with shared living, dining and kitchen space. Each individual has an undivided interest in the property and participates in the planning and decision-making so that the result is geared to the group’s wants and needs. In a co-ownership arrangement, individuals buy a portion or percentage of real property and share title with the other purchaser(s).

As tenants-in-common, owners have a clear sense of knowing what percentage of the property a particular owner controls. Co-owned properties are not governed by legislation such as the Co-operative Corporations Act or the Condominium Act. While communication, cooperation and compromise are key, other elements that make this form of housing work are outlined in a co-ownership agreement. Co-ownership agreements define a wide range of terms which govern the relationship between co-owners including financing, mortgages, insurance, co-owner responsibilities and liabilities, rules and boundaries and dispute resolution mechanisms. Not just for seniors, this type of housing can work for any age group, including intergenerational.


More than 30 years after that show first aired in 1985, the so-called Golden Girls of Port Perry – four seniors who knew living alone or in a retirement home just wasn’t for them for financial and other reasons – overcame municipal bylaws to purchase a house together. The four women in their late 60s and early 70s live under one roof in a 3,400 square foot home. Each maintains a spacious private bedroom with ensuite and shares communal dining, living room and kitchen. Their downtown heritage home has been renovated to include accessibility features and a suite for a live-in caregiver if required.

The arrangement that makes so much sense would never have been possible at one time in the Township of Scugog because of objections by local politicians. First-term Durham MPP Lindsey Park says that kind of opposition to affordable housing solutions for seniors can’t happen again and she introduced a private members’ bill called the Golden Girls Act.


All levels of government should recognize that Ontario has an aging population and should encourage innovative and affordable housing solutions for seniors. Local municipalities should not deter seniors from choosing affordable housing options and should recognize that unrelated seniors living together can reap significant health, economic and social benefits. It is desirable to provide clarity to municipalities that the Planning Act should be interpreted in a way that encourages and permits home sharing by unrelated seniors as a housing solution.

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