Age restrictions on most condo and apartment buildings could soon be abolished, after new legislation was tabled on Tuesday.
The changes were part of the Alberta Human Rights Amendment Act, 2017. If approved, adult-only buildings would become either seniors-only or family-friendly complexes.
Marie Renaud, MLA for St. Albert, says she heard stories from different people looking for a solution to the problem.
“We heard a lot from seniors saying that they chose to live in a complex that was folks their own age, but we also heard from a lot of younger families who were living in a place and got pregnant and had to leave,” she says. “I think we struck a good balance for everyone.”
The legislation stems from a court order on Jan. 6, 2017 to remove age discrimination from the human rights act. Currently, condos and apartments can be sold and rented based on age.
James Mabey, chair of the Realtors Association of Edmonton and a realtor with Century 21 Masters in St. Albert, says the changes will put more housing options on the market.
“There’ll be a broadening of the market, just in terms of people being able to look at these properties,” he says. “Right now some people who are looking to buy a unit can’t because of the restrictions.”
Mabey says lifting the age restriction will not only increase sales in condo complexes, it’ll also make purchasing a condo unit more affordable.
He says currently the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation won’t approve mortgage insurance to any unit that’s in a building with age restrictions.
If the Alberta Human Rights Amendment Act 2017 passes third reading, changes will take effect in two stages.
The first stage would stop renters in apartment buildings from discriminating on age, which will take effect on Jan. 1. That means adult-only buildings would become family-friendly buildings.
The second stage would make condo complexes either seniors-only or family friendly buildings.
The legislature is proposing at 15-year grace period until the second stage comes into law, since some people have purchased condo units under the expectation that the building is adult-only.
The act, however, will allow some complexes to remain 55-plus. Mabey says that’s because seniors-only housing is typically built for that demographic.
“There are different amenities built for that demographic,” he says. “For instance, there’s Mission Hill Village, they have games rooms, crafting rooms, workshops and a café that’s open all day. They’re designed for people of a certain age to socialize with other people in the building.”
The legislature also has some exemptions. Seniors with live-in caregivers who are under the age of 55 could stay at the complex, for example.