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Canadians aged 55 to 64 have the highest rates of homeownership among all age groups; about 77% of households in which the primary household maintainer is aged 55 to 64 own the housing in which they live (see table 14). The age group 65 to 74 also has a strong ownership rate (76%). Many older Canadians choose retirement homes or other housing and tenure options as they age or as their incomes decrease. Homeownership decreases with age and falls to 71% for those with a primary household maintainer aged 75 or more. This may be partly explained by research, which found that many of those over 65 who downsized sold their homes in favour of renting, while those who downsized before they were 65 tended to stay owners.

The proportion of homeowners without a mortgage increases with age (see table 14). About 83% of households in which the household maintainer is aged 75 or older and that live in homes that they own have no mortgage.

Table 14: Housing Tenure by Age of Primary Household Maintainer,
Canada, 2011

Age CategoryOwnersOwners Without
Mortgage*
Renters
44 years and under 58% 14% 41%
45 – 54 75% 31% 25%
55 – 64 77% 53% 23%
65 – 74 76% 71% 24%
75+ 71% 83% 29%
Total 69% 42% 31%

Source: CMHC adapted from Statistics Canada (National Household Survey) Numbers may not add to 100% due to rounding.
*As a percent of owner households whose mortgage status is known.

In 2011, about 52% of senior Canadians lived in single-detached homes, although the proportion of older Canadians living in a single- or semi-detached home decreases with age (see table 15). This confirms that people tend to downsize in later life. The proportion of older Canadians living in apartments, other than duplexes, increases with age (see table 15).

Table 15: Structure Type by Age of Primary
Household Maintainer,* Canada, 2011

Dwelling Type55 to 6465 to 7475+ years
Single Detached 62% 59% 52%
Semi-detached 5% 4% 4%
Apartment, 5+ Storeys 7% 10% 15%
Apartment, < 5 Storeys 14% 16% 19%
Apartment, Duplex 5% 5% 4%
Row House 5% 5% 5%

Source: Statistics Canada, 2011 National Household Survey
* Include all households, regardless of tenure.

The introduction of condominium legislation in the 1970s has changed the mix of ownership and rental housing available in Canada. Much of the existing rental stock is aging as fewer rental buildings are constructed. Although condominiums are often rented out by their owners, they do not necessarily remain rental units over long periods. As the population ages, the market for up-to-date, good-quality rental housing may well increase as renting offers lifestyle and financial flexibility for older households.

Lin, J. (2005). "The Housing Transitions of Seniors." Canadian Social Trends, Statistics Canada, Winter 2005.

Source: CMHC Housing Research e-Newsletter September 2015