Your Aug. 11 story New lease in life reports on the many excellent features of living in a life lease in Manitoba. There is a dark side, however, which was not mentioned.
- The Manitoba Life Leases Act was originally drafted with input from the developers and owners, not tenants. The province recognizes the problem. Tenants in various life leases, including me, have had discussions with government officials on the problems with little or no results yet.
- More timely release of financial information is needed. According to the act, the owners have to provide a financial report only once a year. Thus, figures are up to a year and a half old. Quarterly financial reports to the tenant representative, at the minimum, are required. Remember, losses are covered by rental payments and not made up by either the management company or the "owner."
- Owner and management companies too often fail to listen to tenant concerns. A major water problem, costing tenants considerable expense, was finally solved after a tenant got through to an owner after a long delay.
- While life-lease living is great, I caution anyone considering a life lease to ensure that you know what you are getting into. Some check points to consider:
- Who is the owner and what is their track record? If it's a service club, find out the number of members who are actively involved in the building.
- The management company. How many life leases do they manage? And what is their relationship with tenants?
- Interview either the tenant association president or tenant representative on the board. Also, check what activities are held on a regular basis. Is it a good fit for you?