If you're struggling to save up to buy your first home or if you already own property but don't have the financial resources to keep it in a state of good repair, you may not be aware of the many financial aid programs that are designed to assist Canadian homeowners. Below are just a few of the programs available today for homeowners all across the nation.
As your family gears up for what could be a long winter, it's important to make sure that all structures and vital systems in your home are in good working order. The Residential Rehabilitation Assistance Program (RRAP) is an initiative that was set up in 1973 by the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) to help low-income homeowners make repairs that would bring their properties up to an adequate standard of living. This program covers repairs for heating systems, electrical issues, plumbing, and structural problems.
There is a limit to how much financial aid a homeowner can receive through RRAP, depending on your geographical location. Maximum aid available for residents in the southern portion of the country is approximately $16,000, while those living in the far north can receive up to $24,000. If the cost of repairs exceeds the maximum loan amount in your area, you will be required to make up the difference.
To qualify for RRAP, your income must be lower than the Income Threshold, as determined by the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation. Your home must be more than five years old, and the property value must not exceed the limit set by CMHC.
If you're eligible for funding through RRAP, you are not obligated to repay the loan if you stay in the house during the loan forgiveness period, which could be up to five years, depending on the terms of your agreement.
The CMHC has another program designed to assist homeowners with repair costs, called the Emergency Repair Program. To qualify, repairs must be deemed urgent to make the house safe for habitation. This includes repairs to heating and electrical systems, foundations, roofs, and more. With the Emergency Repair Program, only emergency repairs are made, regardless of the habitability of the rest of the home, whereas with the Residential Rehabilitation Assistance Program, the entire property must be brought to a minimum standard of safety and livability. The maximum funding offered through the Emergency Repair Program ranges from $6,000 to $11,000.
If you're a homeowner that doesn't require emergency repairs, but is looking for help in making your home more energy efficient, there's the ecoENERGY Retrofit program. This initiative provides grants for owners of detached and multi family dwellings who modify their properties to be more environmentally friendly.
To receive this grant, owners must first have their properties inspected and evaluated by a representative from Natural Resources Canada. They compare the energy efficiency of your home with comparables in the area, as well as make recommendations for retrofits. Once the work is completed, you will receive a second assessment to measure the improved energy efficiency of your home. The amount of funding you receive will depend upon what modifications you make, and how much impact they have on the total energy efficiency of the home.
The GST/HST New Housing Rebate is for Canadians who are building a new home or are buying a newly constructed home from a builder. The program also applies to homeowners who have performed a significant amount of renovations on their existing property, as well as those who have been forced to rebuild after a house fire.
This rebate returns to you a portion of the GST costs involved with purchasing new construction. The amount of rebate you're eligible to receive depends on the value of your home. Properties worth more than $450,000 are not eligible for this rebate.
If you need a little extra to go towards the down payment of a house or to help cover the building costs of a new home, the Canada Revenue Agency has made it a little bit easier to borrow from your RRSP. If you meet their criteria for a first time home buyer, you can borrow up to $20,000 from your Registered Retirement Savings Plan—tax-free—through the Home Buyers' Plan.
There are additional programs throughout Canada that provide financial support to seniors and homeowners with disabilities who need to modify their homes to improve accessibility. There are also provincial programs that help buyers and homeowners deal with the costs of home ownership, and to make it a little easier for low income families to live in safe, comfortable, houses.
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