Having a Problem with your co-op?
There are laws and agreements that affect your housing co-op. Co-ops are organized under the legislation for co-ops in your province or territory. That legislation is usually known as the co-op act, or a name close to that. Your co-op must follow this act. It must follow other laws too, like the human rights code that applies to you, and municipal by-laws and regulations.
There are also contracts that affect your co-op.
Co-ops have contracts with the government called operating agreements (for
Ontario program co-ops the operating agreement has been replaced by the Social
Housing Reform Act). These agreements say how your co-op gets assistance
from the government and what the rules of the program are. Your co-op must
follow its operating agreement. Some co-ops have other agreements with the
government that provide rent supplements or extra help for co-ops in financial
trouble. Co-ops must follow these agreements also.
Disagreeing with what your co-op decides
Having a dispute
with your co-op
Sometimes members have
disputes with their co-ops because they think the co-op is doing something it
doesnít have the right to do. There are two ways to solve these problems democratically,
using the co-opís rules and procedures, or legally,
using laws that govern co-ops. If you have a complaint about your co-op or the
board, tell the board. Here is the process to follow:
write to the board. Ask someone to help you if necessary. Describe your problem
and ask to attend a board meeting. Tell the board how you think your issue can
be resolved. For example, a conflict can be resolved through mediation. Keep a
copy of what you send to the board.
you meet with the board and you are still not satisfied, write to the board
again and ask to have the issue put on the agenda of the next membersí
meeting. Ask the members to decide if the co-op has followed its by-laws or
rules and policies. You can suggest that a skilled chairperson, who is not a
co-op member, run that part of the meeting.
the board will not meet with you or wonít put your issue on the agenda of a
meeting you can call a membersí meeting
You must use a special process to call a membersí meeting. The process is called requisitioning a membersí meeting.
You can find information on this in your co-opís by-laws (or rules as they are sometimes called) and the act that governs co-ops in your province. Itís usually called the Co-op Act.
You may need to look at both the by-law and the co-op act. Again, try to find someone to give you some help if you need it.
You will have to get the
support of other members at your co-op to call a members meeting this way. A
certain number of them must agree that the meeting should be held. Your
by-laws will tell you how that works. If you are successful, the result will be
a membersí meeting at which you can raise your concerns.
the membersí meeting you will want to make a very clear and simple
presentation of your problem. Members will understand your message if it is well
organized and calmly presented.
you want the members to decide something at the meeting you may need to propose
a resolution to the meeting. Otherwise you may find that nothing is
decided, even though you have presented your opinion on the issues.
should accept the decision of the members even if you donít agree with it,
because co-ops are democracies. But sometimes co-ops might not know the law. If
you think your co-op is not following the law you need to get legal advice.
Where to get Information
lawyer or legal advisor will need to see your co-opís by-laws or rules and
policies as well as any letters between you and the co-op.
The co-op housing sectorís role
for boards and committees
might want to suggest that your board get help from the co-op housing sector for
a difficult problem. And your co-op might have publications put out by the co-op
sector that could help resolve problems.
CHF Canada and local federations of housing co-ops cannot take the side of any individual member, and they have no legal or administrative control over any housing co-op.