From the outside, a housing co-op looks like any other housing complex. But, a housing co-op is different – here’s how:
The residents of a housing co-op are members of the co-op corporation which owns the property. The co-op provides a unit (townhouse or apartment) to the member household. A household can consist of one or more adults – with or without children – all ages. The co-op is non-profit with no outside owner/landlord. Members do not purchase or own the individual houses or apartments in which they live – residents have an occupancy agreement with their co-op and pay a monthly housing charge (rent).
All members have an equal say in how their co-op is run – “one member, one vote”. Co-ops generally require all residents to be members. Members come together at meetings to approve the annual operating budget; approve the co-op’s by-laws, rules and policies; and elect their Board of directors. A director is a resident member of the co-op and serves on the Board for a fixed term. The co-op also employs a non-resident manager who works in the co-op’s office and looks after the co-op’s day-to-day business.
The key difference between co-ops and other kinds of housing is that co-op members are actively involved in running their own housing community. Each member is expected to be available to attend meetings of members, and from time to time to serve on the Board or be involved in some other co-op activity. Members get to know each other by being good neighbours and through their involvement in their co-op. This involvement creates a sense of community and promotes a safe and responsible environment for all –adults and children.
Difference Between Co-op and Rental Housing
|Co-op Housing||Rental Housing|
|Lease or Occupancy Agreement||Each member resident signs an occupancy agreement requiring the member to adhere to the co-op’s by-laws||Tenant signs a Lease|
|Governance||Resident Board of Directors is elected by all members and accountable to the membership||Owner/Landlord is solely responsible|
|Management and Staffing||Co-op employs its own paid staff (accountable to the Board) for day-to-day management||Management/Staff provided by Owner/Landlord|
|Monthly Charges – who decides?||Members approve annual operating budget which includes monthly charges to cover mortgage and operating expenses||Set by Owner/Landlord (subject to any limiting legislation) to cover mortgage and operating expenses and profit|
|Security of Tenure||Resident member can remain as long as they want as long as they follow the rules and by-laws of the co-op and pay monthly charges on time||Tenant can usually remain as long as they can afford the rent and adhere to the lease|
|Is a Down Payment Required?||Co-op will require a Maintenance Deposit equal to one month rent||Last month’s rent required|
|Giving Notice to Vacate||60 Days Notice is required||60 days and according to Term of the Lease|
|Responsible for Repairs and Maintenance||Co-op decides which are the responsibility of residents and which are provided by outside trades||Owner/Landlord responsible for custodial, repairs, etc.|
|Amenities||Members decide and approve in operating and capital budgets||Provided as stated in Lease|
|Community Activities||Determined by and participation by member residents||Not normally provided by Owner/Landlord|
||Decided by co-op members and stated in co-op’s by-laws||Decided by Owner/Landlord and stated in Lease|