Types of Home Ownership

When beginning the process of purchasing a home, you will most likely to encounter a wide range of new and familiar words comprising the real estate lexicon. At first this new vocabulary may seem foreign to you, but an experienced real estate representative can help translate any important terms, acronyms and phrases that are needed in order to make informed home buying decisions. In Canadian real estate there are three broad categories of home ownership. The words “freehold”, “co-operative” and “condominium” are the terms used to define an owner’s rights and responsibilities as they pertain to the dwelling. The categorical designation given to the dwelling determines the extent to which an owner can restrict or allow the decoration and/or renovations that can be made to the residence, permit or restrict certain types of resident behaviour, as well as define who is responsible for the various maintenance tasks on the premises.



Home Ownership Categories: Basic Points


  • The owner owns the house and the grounds.
  • Freehold homes offer the most privacy and freedom of choice of any type of home. Homeowners are free to decorate and renovate as they please.
  • The owner is also responsible for all the maintenance on the interior and the exterior of the house.
  • Freehold is the most common type of home ownership.


  • Co-operatives (or co-ops) are similar to condos but instead of owning your unit, you own a share in the entire building or complex.
  • Co-op residents pay for maintenance and repairs through monthly fees and are subject to the rules and regulations of the co-op board.
  • If you decide to sell your shares and move out, the co-op board has the right to reject your prospective buyer.


  • The homeowner owns the unit and shares ownership of common elements. Condos are usually apartment buildings, but also include townhouse developments and developments of detached buildings on private roads.
  • The homeowner is responsible for the interior area of the unit (everything from the plaster in). The condo association is responsible for the up-keep of the exterior of the building, common interior elements (halls, elevators and parking garages, for example) and the grounds.
  • All condo owners pay a monthly fee to the condominium association to cover maintenance costs and common utility fees and taxes.
  • Condos often have strict rules regarding noise, use of common areas and renovations to units. Condominium residents often enjoy less privacy than residents of detached homes.
  • Condos are usually less expensive than freehold houses.
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