Bi-generation and intergenerational property 101
Also called intergenerational home, the bigenerational home is a constructed or a renovated house, consisting of two separate dwellings, where children and elderly parents live. Since 1998, it is possible to adapt a single family home into a intergenerational home. However, it is recommended to check with the municipality because not all have adopted a zoning regulation allowing for the construction or addition of accommodation into a single family home.
Elements to consider
In addition, check that elements are included in the built or added accommodation, as it should include: a single outdoor access without obstacles, superior soundproofing between the two accommodations, non-slip flooring, switches and easily accessible power outlets, low windows easy to use and allowing for an outside view when sitting, countertops and kitchen cabinets at a convenient height and a safe bathroom. Note that the house must maintain the appearance of a single family home in order to properly fit into a residential area.
There are many advantages with living in a bigenerational home: empowering seniors by allowing them to live in their own home while being close to family, freeing seniors from maintenance work and costs of a big house, favoring the intergenerational link with grandchildren.
However, house sharing between generations is not always easy, so it is important to agree on all aspects of the day-to-day life before getting into this lifestyle. Do you favor the condominium? Do you want a single owner renting to the other household? What happens if the owner wants to sell? What if there is a break up between the couple who owns the house? If there is incapacity, death? To sum up, all these issues require thoughts and legal advice. It is important to think an advance about the right tools such as a mandate in case of incapacity, power of attorney, wills, a contract establishing the use or usufruct well, all the documents allowing children and seniors to live at peace.
Draft a contract
Once the legal aspect considered, there is a second question to think about: how to get along on a day-to-day basis in an intergenerational environment? To avoid any possible conflicts, it would be safe to draft an agreement (contract) between children and parents determining the acceptable lifestyle among family members (eg allocation of expenses, private spaces and common spaces, visits, noise, cleaning, etc.). Whether your contract is written by you or by a legal professional, it is important to plan the steps to follow in case of breach of a clause of the agreement. A family council, mediation or conciliation, and ultimately filing before a Court are the steps that can be thought about. Of course, there are all kinds of solutions and creativity is possible to the extent that public order is respected.