By signing up, you agree to our Terms of Use & Privacy Policy

Questions About Leases

When is a lease not a lease?  When it is a freehold oil or gas lease – Canada’s highest court has ruled that a freehold lease is a profit a prendre – a right to take from the property of another.  

One consequence of the profit a prendre designation is that freehold owner-lessors do not have the same legal protection accorded to other owners who lease their property.  For example, landlords whose tenants fail to pay the rent prescribed in their lease agreement have the right of distrain – to seize the tenants property to satisfy unpaid debt.  Freehold owner-lessors have no such right.  Similarly, owners who lease their surface rights to oil companies have recourse to surface rights boards with respect to compensation and, in Alberta, to the Alberta Energy Regulator for surface lease enforcement.  There are no subsurface rights boards in Western Canada and oil and gas regulators will not enforce freehold oil or gas leases.

A freehold oil and gas  lease is an exceedingly complex legal document.  If your mineral rights are currently leased, FHOA can help you to understand the complex terms and conditions in your lease to insure that your oil company-lessee is complying with its obligations.  If you are approached to lease, FHOA can help you to understand what changes to the lease your should attempt to negotiate to more adequately protect your interests.  While FHOA is not a substitute for professional advice, you will be better educated should you seek additional assistance.

We Can Help!

A freehold oil and gas lease grants the oil and gas lessee the right, but not the obligation, to explore for the leased substances for a specific period of time (the primary term).  If the leased substances are found to exist during the primary term, the lease continues for so long as there is the capability of production. The owner receives a bonus consideration upon signing the lease (substantially less than what might be expected from an outright sale) and a royalty share of any production revenues. This fundamental concept underlies all freehold leases but the actual form of lease has evolved over time. 

In the quarter century following the 1947 Leduc discovery, oil and gas exploration and development in Wesern Canada was dominated by major international oil companies.  Each of the majors had its own form of freehold lease but all were ‘unless’ leases – they terminated on their own terms unless certain provisos were met by the lessee.  Following many judicial terminations of valuable industry freehold leases, the Canadian Association of Petroleum Landmen (the CAPL) and the Natural Resources Section of the Canadian Bar released the CAPL 88 Lease – an ‘or’ form of lease in 1988. 

FHOA helps you to understand the terms and conditions in both unless leases and CAPL leases (CAPL 88, CAPL 91, CAPL 99, and CAPL 2014).  We also provide you with amendments to certain clauses which you can use in negotiations to more fairly balance your rights with those of the oil company lessee. 

Join today to get access to this information and many other resources available for Members.



How Can You Help?

The easiest way to help is to become a Member!

If you can, get involved. If you have skills or training which could help FHOA attain its goals, let us know. FHOA always needs volunteers to assist with seminars, to help with phone outs before seminars or even join the Board.

Spread the word. The more members that FHOA has, the greater our potential influence. Many freeholders who could use our help, particularly those who do not use the internet, remain unaware of FHOA’s existence.

If you have time constraints, make a financial donation to assist us in paying for judicial and regulatory hearings. Donations from Alberta residents are particularly helpful as the Alberta Government’s Community Spirit Program provides matching grants for donations by Albertans to not for profit organizations such as FHOA.


Want to Learn More and Get Involved?

Being a member of FHOA gives you many benefits and services not available to non-members (some additional fees may apply), including:

  • a common voice representing the interests of Freeholders with government bodies and regulators

  • help understanding leases and many other agreements

  • help understanding regulations and obligations to protect your rights

  • a knowledge base for some of the confusing technical information

  • access to experienced industry professionals to assist in negotiations

  • information about the going rate in your area, and so much more…..

*Additional fees may apply

Annual Membership
only $75!


  • We wish to thank FHOA, with special recognition to David Speirs, for the information /assistance he gave to us regarding the energy sector. His knowledge of Freehold Owner leases was particularly helpful to us as novices when we became Freehold owners over a decade ago.

    Garold and Yvonne Miller

  • I am eternally grateful for what I have learned through FHOA and their Board of Directors. Because of FHOA, our family can safeguard our mineral rights for future generations, and we have enhanced our lease negotiation skills as a collaborative family unit. The expertise and dedication of FHOA directors has supported our efforts in every aspect of mineral ownership.

    Joan Olafson

  • Our mineral rights have been passed down for generations. We joined FHOA in 2007 to help us understand an agreement with an oil company. FHOA was so helpful, providing suggestions were able to take the company and have adjustments made to our lease agreement. The information provided on the website, by FHOA representatives and at FHOA meetings helped us better understand lease provisions. If we had to sign another lease, I would have FHOA help again. Because of this value, we continue to be a member year after year.

    Jackie Anderson

  • Freehold Owner’s Association (“FHOA”) has a wide variety of information with access to various expertise for freehold mineral owners like me, who do not have the technical and legal expertise, nor the financial capability to do it on their own.

    Bill Schmidt

  • Our family is very thankful for FHOA. They made it possible to force a major oil producer to pay legitimate royalties owed to all five family members for off-set drilling beside our mineral rights.

    Betty Frey