How does a housing co-operative work?
Each co-operative is an incorporated group, owned by the people it serves. Each resident member has one vote. A Board of Directors is elected to manage the co-op's affairs. Various volunteer committees are formed to assist the Board or the Board may hire professionals to administer certain tasks. However, ultimate control remains with the membership.
Co-op ownership provides security of tenure. Member's leases do not have a time limit. Members control their collective operating costs and management. There are not any absentee landlords. There is no profit to anyone. Co-operators enjoy some of the benefits of legal ownership. For example, once the mortgage is paid off, the housing charges will decrease, just as in regular ownership. Only the general maintenance, taxes and land costs would remain.
There aren't any income qualifications for membership. However, the
co-operative as a group must have a mix of incomes which allows them to
meet their expenses. Thus there is a mixture of low, moderate and high
incomes. Most members pay approximately 25 % of gross income up to a
ceiling determined by a formula based on the actual mortgage and
maintenance costs of the co-op.
Members don't individually own their units. Ownership is collective and rests with the entire membership. However, members have the right to residency provided they fulfill their membership agreement with the co-op. Only willful and serious breach of the lease or rules set down by the members is cause for membership to be revoked.
Members are required to occupy units related to their family size.
The general rule is: minimum one person per bedroom, maximum two.
Mortgages for co-operative housing are provided by private financial institutions, with Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (C.M.H.C.) insuring the loan. C.M.H.C. also provides a certain subsidies to ensure that low income individuals and families can afford membership.
When members leave, they receive their original share purchase, as well as any applicable payments for improvements paid for by the individual during occupancy. Money paid as monthly housing charges is not refundable.
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