The Elderly, House and Home: A Moving Experience!**
Gold’s Legal Minute*GLM*
By Allan Gold, lawyer Montreal and elder law attorney
Vol. 14, #9 – October 31, 2023
A house is where you live. It’s important. It’s the center of your world. It’s even more important when you’re older and you stay closer to home. One needs to know about government programs, rules and regulations. It’s a fact of life that legal questions arise. I’ve prepared an encapsulated data sheet. Each item is short and sweet. I chose a few topics: (a) Home Adaptation/Homeowner Tax Discount; (b) Homelessness; (c) Landlord-tenant: death, move to a care residence. Let’s unpack this. If you want to learn more – read on!
“For Canada’s aging population, good health is a primary goal. Quality of life is another. Since housing is a social determinant of health, a home is critical.” —Allan Gold
“Home is a shelter from storms — all sorts of storms.” — William J. Bennett, former U.S. Secretary of Education 2
HOME ADAPTATION/HOMEOWNER TAX DISCOUNT FOR SENIORS
There are things to consider when choosing a place to live, notably affordability, taxes, real estate value, crime rates & statistics, proximity to family & friends, climate, culture, food options, town or city size, health care facilities, etc. At the outset, your house was in move-in condition. In the alternative, you made it fit your family needs and lifestyle. But if and when things change for you, then what? One answer is a senior home makeover. Here’s how you can make that happen!
Home Accessibility Tax Credit (HATC)
“The HATC is a non-refundable tax credit for eligible home renovation or alteration expenses that allow a qualifying individual to gain access to, or to be mobile or functional within the eligible dwelling or reduce the risk of harm to the qualifying individual within the dwelling or in gaining access to the dwelling….A qualifying individual is one of the following: – an individual who is eligible for the disability tax credit (DTC) at any time in the year – an individual who is 65 years of age or older at the end of the year.” 3
Independent Living Tax Credit for Seniors – Quebec
“You may be entitled to a refundable tax credit if, for the year covered by the claim, you met the following requirements: – You were a resident of Québec on December 31. – You were 70 or older on December 31. -You incurred expenses for either or both of the following: — the purchase, lease and installation of eligible equipment or fixtures used to continue living independently in your principal place of residence — a stay in a functional rehabilitation transition unit These expenses must have been paid by you or your spouse.” 4 This refundable tax credit is equal to 20% of expenses incurred in excess of $250 for the acquisition, rental and installation in the taxpayer’s home of the following goods: GPS remote monitoring or tracking device, devices to facilitate use of toilet, shower or bathtub, mechanized rail-mounted chairlift for staircase, alert systems for those with hearing impairments, hearing aids, walkers, rollators, canes, crutches, non-motorized wheelchairs, hospital bed.
Grant for Seniors to Offset a Municipal Tax Increase
“This grant aims to offset a municipal tax increase brought about by a significant increase in the value of your residence. You may be entitled to the grant if you meet all of the conditions below. -On December 31, 2022, you: – were resident in Québec; – were 65 or over; – had owned your residence for at least 15 consecutive years (note that this period can include a period during which your spouse owned the residence before transferring ownership to you). -Your residence is an entirely residential assessment unit consisting of only one dwelling, and it serves as your principal residence. -You received (or were entitled to receive) a municipal tax bill in your name for the residence for 2023. If you co-owned the residence, the municipal tax bill may have been issued in another co-owner’s name. -Your family income for 2022 (the amount on line 275 of your income tax return plus, if you had a spouse on December 31, 2022, the amount on line 275 of his or her return) was $58,200 or less. For more information about the grant, see the instructions for line 462 (point 29) in the guide to the income tax return (TP-1.G-V) or those given on form TP-1029.TM-V, Grant for Seniors to Offset a Municipal Tax Increase.” 5
With older adults, medical emergencies and falls can occur suddenly. A precaution is well warranted. A medical alert service is indispensable. I vigorously recommend that you equip your loved one with such a device. It might save a life! It will definitely make him or her feel safer. It will also give you some peace of mind.
And VOILÀ, you have a home that has evolved.
“There is nothing more important than a good, safe, secure home.”—Rosalynn Carter 6
A home key is essential. But more and more older folks are homeless. It’s a sign of the times. In part, it’s due to the “graying of society.” Indeed, numbers of people aged 65 and better are increasing. But that’s not the whole story. Inadequate revenue is a contributing factor. Mental illness complicates matters. Lack or absence of close family is another. Low vacancy rate makes things still harder. Without being exhaustive, hereinafter are a few programs:
– Government Of Canada Launches New Program To Help Put An End To Veteran Homelessness Please visit https://www.canada.ca/en/office-infrastructure/news/2023/04/government-of-canada-launches-new-program-to-help-put-an-end-to-veteran-homelessness.html
– Governments of Canada and Québec provide financial assistance for the purchase and conversion of two buildings by Projets Autochtones du Québec (PAQ) to establish PAQ2, a low barrier shelter in Montréal. Please visit https://www.cbc.ca/lite/story/1.6967770
– Montréal etc. offer various resources to support and guide people experiencing homelessness. Please visit https://montreal.ca/en/topics/homelessness-and-social-cohabitation
When it comes to Senior renters, hereinafter are several points at issue.
Elderly admitted permanently into a seniors’ residence
A Senior lessee can resiliate the current lease if he or she is permanently admitted to a residential and long-term care center or some such facility. Resiliation is effective two months after a notice is sent to the lessor when the lease is for 12 months or more. Please note that it’s obligatory to therein send an acknowledgement/certificate attesting that conditions requiring admission have been satisfied. 7
Death of a lessee
The lease isn’t terminated. The lease continues until the end of its term and may be renewed in the name of one or all of the heirs. The presence of a co-occupant and/or co-lessee might complicate matters for the lessor. 8
In a life journey, an elderly person has many challenges to face. Struggling to reside at home is a big one. There are legalities relative to housing: qualification criteria re governmental programs, application of rules and regulations. Questions do arise. I hope this article helps seniors and their families in dealing with this area of elder law. “What’s the point?” you ask. I want your home life to be as good as it gets!
P.S. “Where thou art — that — is home.” — Emily Dickinson, American poet 9
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!! Should you wish to peruse a variety of articles I have written, please visit https://allanjgold.com/blog-glm/
!!! Call to action: To every attorney in the field, I say, “Write a post/article. Let’s help seniors & their families become better informed about elder law Canada! And by the way, please send it along. I’d love to read it.”
NOTICE – CAUTION –DISCLAIMER. The material provided herein is of a general nature, strictly for informational purposes. The interpretation and analysis is not to be misapplied to a personal situation with a particular set of facts. Under no circumstances, are the herein suggestions and tips, intended to bring a reader to the point of acting or not acting, but instead, the hope is that they are to be a cause for pause and reflection. It is specifically declared that this content is not to be a replacement of, or a substitution for, legal or any other appropriate advice. To the contrary, for more information on these presents, related subjects or any other questions, it is the express recommendation of the author that everyone seek out and consult a qualified professional or competent adviser.
1 Image by Mohamed Hassan from Pixabay
**© 2023– ALLAN GOLD – ALL RIGHTS RESERVED-TOUS LES DROITS SONT RÉSERVÉS Ed. 2023-10-31-001
* ©/TM 2006, 2008, 2018 Allan Gold, Practitioners’ Press Inc. – ALL RIGHTS RESERVED