When you buy property there are various forms of ownership possible. Most commonly when you buy a private home the ownership is Freehold.
When you buy an apartment, there are three common forms of ownership. Most popular in British Columbia is Strata. This is when you own your own apartment and there are common areas that you are collectively responsible for. The banks like this form of ownership and it is easy to get good mortgages on these properties.
During the late forties and early fifties a number of properties were built called cooperatives. These are where the owners own the whole building and are given a share of the whole property (their apartment) where they live. They are responsible for all collective spaces in proportion to the size of their share.
The banks do not like this form of ownership so only a few banks in the city will support mortgages and all mortgages are given only at a premium.
Throughout the city there are also apartments sold on leasehold land. These include the federal owned developments in False Creek, the city owned developments in Champlain Heights, and various privately owned leasehold properties throughout the West End. There are also homes sold that are situated on Indian Land. These leasehold properties have been quite problematic in the past and should not be entered into without consulting a lawyer.
A freehold interest (also known as a fee simple) is the more precise term for what we ordinarily refer to as ownership of a property. The owner of the freehold interest has full use and control of the land and the buildings on it, subject to any rights of the Crown, local land-use bylaws and any other restrictions in place at the time of purchase.
In English law, a freehold is the ownership of real property, being the land and all immovable structures attached to such land. Immovable property includes land and all that naturally goes with it, such as buildings, trees, or underground resources, but not such things as vehicles or livestock (which are movable).
For an estate to be a freehold it must possess two qualities: Immobility (property must be land or some interest issuing out of or annexed to land); and ownership of it must be of an indeterminate duration. If the time of ownership can be fixed and determined, then it cannot be a freehold.
In some cases you might purchase the right to use a residential property for a long, but limited, period of time. The owner of this right of use has a type of ownership called a leasehold interest. This type of ownership is used most often for townhouses or apartments built on city-owned land. (for example: False Creek or Champlain Hights and some buildings in the West End). It is also occasionally on First Nations reserves, and for apartments where the owner of the freehold interest of an entire apartment block sells leasehold interests in individual apartment units to other owners.
Leasehold interests are frequently set for periods of 99 years, but regardless of the length of the original term, you will only be able to purchase the remaining portion. Of course, the shorter the remaining portion, the less you, or the person who eventually purchases from you, will be willing to pay for the leasehold interest
The strata form of ownership is designed to provide exclusive use and ownership of a specific housing unit (the strata lot) which is contained in a larger property (the strata project), plus shared use and ownership of the common areas such as halls, grounds, garages, elevators, etc.
This type of ownership is used for homes, duplexes, apartment blocks, townhouse complexes, warehouses, and many other types of buildings. Because ownership of the common space is shared, the owners also share financial responsibility for its maintenance such as the commonly owned roads, disposal system, landscaping, elevators, management, etc.
Not to be confused with government housing co-ops, A housing cooperative is a legal entity—usually a corporation—that owns real estate, consisting of one or more residential buildings. Each shareholder in the legal entity is granted the right to occupy one housing unit, sometimes subject to an occupancy agreement, which is similar to a lease or “strata laws”. The occupancy agreement specifies the co-op’s rules.