What is a housing co-op?

from http://www.chfcanada.coop/eng/pages2007/about_1.asp

Housing co-operatives provide not-for-profit housing for their members.

The members do not own equity in their housing. If they move, their home is returned to the co-op, to be offered to another individual or family who needs an affordable home.

Some co-op households pay a reduced monthly rent (housing charge) geared to their income. Government funds cover the difference between this payment and the co-op’s full charge. Other households pay the full monthly charge based on cost.

Because co-ops charge their members only enough to cover costs, repairs, and reserves, they can offer housing that is much more affordable than average private sector rental costs.

Co-op housing also offers security. Co-ops are controlled by their members who have a vote in decisions about their housing. There is no outside landlord.

Each housing co-operative is a legal association, incorporated as a co-operative. Canada’s housing co-ops are guided by international co-operative principles, adapted for housing co-ops.

If you live in a non-profit housing co-op you are:

  • A voting member who contributes to the governance of the co-op
  • Part of a community where neighbours look out for one another
  • Living in housing that will stay affordable because it’s run on a non-profit basis and is never resold
  • Linked through the Canadian Co-operative Association and the conseil canadien de la coopération with other Canadian co-operatives active in banking, retail, farming, insurance, day care, health services and more
  • A member of a world-wide movement.

In a housing co-op members have the right to:

  • Vote on the annual budget, which sets the monthly housing charges and affects the quality of your housing – for example, how much the co-op will spend on property upkeep
  • Elect a board of directors made up of people who live in your co-op
  • Run for the board of directors yourself
  • Receive audited financial statements that show how the co-op spent your money
  • Pay only a limited portion of your income for your housing, if you meet eligibility rules
  • Live there for as long as you like, if you keep to the by-laws agreed on by the co-op membership

For more information on what is required to create and run a co-op, the laws and regulations governing co-ops, and what sets co-ops apart from other kinds of housing, see the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation’s “Guide to Co-op Housing”.