Canada's Condominium Magazine
5.9 million people are 65 years of age and older, while 20 per cent of Canada’s population is 54-65. In other words fully 36 percent of our population are old enough to potentially have empty nests — aged 54 and up. The exception would be Boomers with adult children. [See our stories on Boomerang kids: My Boomerang Story >> and Boomerang Kids Taking Toll on Retirement Plans>> ]
Complicating the scenario, 40 percent of young adults still live with their parents. Traditionally, now is the time when Boomers downsize — either after the “kids” leave the nest, or as they began to move into retirement mode. Even with the shift to “boomerang” kids — an increase in adult kids moving back with the parents — there is a big enough cohort of people 54 years and older to strongly impact the market. The most conservative projections still see an increase in inventory, and also an increase in migrations to downsized homes, including condominiums.
Why the migration?
Some are selling their houses and moving into much smaller dwellings, such as condominiums to reduce maintenance and increase mobility and freedom. Some are waiting, unsure what to do in the current market. The main market force remains availability of properties. Boomers who are hesitating to downsize are one of the main reasons for a shortage — which is helping hold prices on the high side. But it is unlikely to last long. Since the cohort is so large, demand will increase, which will be a stabilizing force in the market place.
While their previous homes certainly held sentimental value, the need for larger homes has diminished. After all, they are no longer raising families since their children are all grown.
Downsizing for freedom
Downsizing allows them to save money so they can live more fully now that they have extra time on their hands. If they purchase or rent a condo for cheaper than the value of their home, then they free up a lot of time and money for travelling, sight-seeing, hobbies and other activities, etc. Their home only needs to meet their most basic of necessities.
Moving into a condo also allows Boomers — and seniors — to feel more at ease and secure. They do not have to worry about maintaining their home since repairs, landscaping, and maintenance are handled for them. They can meet new people, enjoy their favorite activities, lounge by the pool, and do anything else they desire. Amenities are easily accessible. Seniors with disabilities or other physical impairments are often much happier and maintain a greater sense of independence because they can utilize elevators to freely move around and access everything they need.
The issues for condominium management
Although the move toward more independence and a happier lifestyle is great and very much deserved after years of hard work and sacrifice, this trend has the potential to create some issues if condominium communities and management do not take the time to come up with proactive solutions that meet the needs of seniors while ensuring the needs of the building and community are met as well. The following are important details and potential problems with their aging clients of which condominium corporations should be aware.
The issues arise not in the aging population themselves but in the rising number of tenants with declining mental and physical health. Section 10 of the Ontario Human Rights Code protects citizens with disabilities, including physical and mental impairments. Accommodations must be made in order to ensure the well-being of those suffering from disabilities. Protecting them with laws such as these helps them tremendously and gives them peace of mind knowing that they will not be discriminated against and that they can live independently while still having their needs met.
However, it inadvertently limits protections for condo owners and other residents. If a mentally ill person wanders the halls and becomes unruly, management may be at a loss when it comes to handling the matter. They cannot handle these situations the same way they would handle a fighting couple, a loud party, or any other run-of-the-mill nuisance. It is also important to realize that the mentally ill are not able to control their actions the majority of the time. This makes it difficult to penalize them.
The protections and rights to accommodations have also raised other questions. For example, who should pay for accommodations made the improve the lives of these tenants? Typically, accommodations which are made in the individual’s unit or benefits only him or her, then that individual alone is responsible for payment. Accommodations such as ramps benefit everyone, however. Therefore, they are usually the responsibility of the corporation.
Management would be wise in studying the law carefully and ensuring they have solutions in place so as to be prepared for issues that may arise. Establish policies for dealing with residents in poor mental or physical health so they can receive the care they need without sacrificing the well-being of other residents. Encourage residents to openly disclose medical information that needs to be known so you are aware of any conditions that may require immediate medical attention. They may feel inclined to keep it secret for fear of discrimination, but ensuring them that you have their best interests at heart can ease their minds.
Disclosing that information allows you to make the proper judgment calls if the need should ever arise. For example, if the tenant is ever found unconscious in their home, it would be beneficial to them if you knew any medical issues that might have caused them to collapse. This will allow them to continue being independent, while also having someone to speak for them when they cannot. It also allows the corporation to avoid any liability issues.
 StatsCan 2016 data