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.
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”.