Sharing A Cottage – Joint Ownership Checklist

Owning a recreational cottage property is a great way to escape the city and enjoy a rewarding lifestyle. At CottageClub, there are many ownership benefits as well as ownership options, including the flexibility of shared ownership. For many, co-owning a cottage is both cost effective and a great way to share the fun of owning a vacation getaway. However, co-owners should agree on important issues ahead of time in order to keep cottage time happy and peaceful. Here are some tips from Peter Lillico for Cottage Life*, on how to successfully share a cottage with friends or family. 

To start, co-owners need to ask some significant questions. For example, can all owners use the cottage all the time? If there are periods of exclusive use, how are they allocated? During their turn, can owners bring guests, or even rent or lend out the cottage? Who will open and close the cottage each year? Who makes sure the utility bills, municipal taxes, and insurance premiums are paid on time? And how are collective decisions for changes, improvements, or additions made?

Cost-sharing usually causes the most discord. Should ongoing costs be split equally, or shared in proportion to usage? If, for instance, the septic system packs it in, one owner may be able to pay his share of the repair bill out of his petty cash, while another may be too strapped to contribute. So does the cottage go unused for a while or must the strapped owner take out a loan? Or, do the better-off partners pay for everything? A cottage agreement, on the other hand, could set up a discretionary reserve fund for unexpected expenses, as part of the shared cottage budget.

Cottage Agreement Checklist

List all tasks and responsibilities

  • Create a master list of all the tasks involved in taking care of the cottage, no matter how small, obvious, or infrequent.

Determine the division of labour

  • Find a fair way to allocate tasks: rotating? equally? in proportion to usage?

  • Who is responsible for opening and closing, or taking care of maintenance and repairs if, say, the outboard breaks or the fridge dies?

  • Who operates the bank account and organizes and pays the utilities, insurance, taxes, etc.?

Agree upon usage among the owners

  • Who gets to use the cottage — owners only, family of owners, or friends?

  • If friends use the cottage, does a co-owner have to be present?

  • Can the cottage be rented to others? How will revenue be shared?

Allocate usage among owners

  • Is it a free-for-all (anybody can come up at any time) or if one owner has July, does the other have August?

  • Create a fair way to schedule cottage time and make changes if necessary.

  • Determine any periods of shared usage (regatta weekend? the weekend of the cottage association annual meeting?) 

Work out a mechanism for retaining ownership within the group

  • Will ownership automatically pass to children?

  • Do you want to limit ownership transfers, with rights of first refusal for the existing owner group?

Work out the financial realities

  • Budget for routine bills (taxes, insurance, electricity) and unplanned expenses (such as septic repairs, cottage improvements, a new outboard).

  • Plan a decision process: unanimity or majority rules. Is there a veto, and in what circumstances?

  • How is the annual budget calculated, and by whom?

  • How much is contributed monthly or annually to the bank account for cottage operations?

  • What about paying for major emergency repairs?

  • If one owner wants an upgrade, such as a new dock, bunkie, or satellite dish, must the others agree? Unanimously or does a majority rule? Who pays?

View: Ownership Benefits At CottageClub

At CottageClub, we offer recreational lots and cottages for almost every lifestyle and budget including lake front, mountain view and private retreat lots. We also have the tools, resources and a dedicated team of professionals to ensure that the best options are available to you!

CottageClub Ghost Lake is Alberta’s premier recreational getaway… located just 35 minutes west of Calgary Come to relax or come to play… we’d love to see you here!


Interested in learning more about this exceptional recreational community? Come by and experience a lifestyle where everyday is a holiday. 


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The CottageClub at Ghost Lake is located 35 minutes from Calgary and Canmore and 50 minutes from Banff, so homeowners can enjoy even more year-round recreational activities like hiking, rock climbing, skiing, fishing and many other great outdoor pastimes.