Alberta

Name of Act/Regulations

Cooperatives Act,  SA 2001, c. C-28.1
Part 18, Division 1 deals specifically with housing co-ops.
www.qp.alberta.ca/574.cfm?page=C28P1.cfm&leg_type=Acts&isbncln=9780779740185

Cooperatives Regulation AR 55/2002 Cooperatives.
www.qp.alberta.ca/574.cfm?page=2002_055.cfm&leg_type=Regs&isbncln=9780779740277

Admitting New Members

If the coop wishes to admit a member who is younger than 18, they must create a bylaw that allows them to do this.

Obligations of the Members to the Coop and of the Coop to its Members

Cooperative Basis

The Coop Act imposes special limitations on non-profit housing coops. Key limitations, which must be included in the coop's articles, are:

  • the activities of the housing coop must be carried out without the purpose of gain for its members;
  • upon dissolution and after paying its debts and liabilities, the remaining property of the coop must be transferred to, or distributed among, one or more housing coops, non-profit organizations or charitable organizations;
  • the coop may not distribute any of its property or pay any money to its members, unless permitted by the Coop Act;
  • the coop cannot distribute shares or dividends to its members;
  • the coop may only allocate among or credit its members with all or part of the surplus arising from the operations of the coop in a financial year as a patronage return;
  • subject to the Act, the coop may not amend its articles to change from a non-profit housing coop to any other type of cooperative or corporation.

Articles of Incorporation

Articles of incorporation ("articles") are the originating documents that create a housing coop. The articles of a non-profit housing coop must include:

  • the name of the housing coop (including the term "housing", "mobile home" or "homes" in combination with the word  "cooperative", "co-operative", "coop", "co-op" or another grammatical form of any of these words as part of its name) and its address
  • a statement that the primary objective of the coop is to carry on business as a non-profit continuing housing coop and to provide housing or housing-related facilities to its members, together with ancillary services and facilities to individuals who are:
    • members of the coop
    • ordinary residents of housing units
    • occupants of housing units other than individual owners
  • a statement that the coop is a non-profit continuing housing coop subject to the Act
  • the special limitations that apply to housing coops in Alberta (see Cooperative basis).

Bylaws

Bylaws must be consistent with the Coop Act. The Coop Act has restrictions that apply specifically to non-profit housing coops. The restrictions address:

  • providing members with gains
  • dissolving the co-op
  • paying back any money owed to members

The Act requires coops to make specific bylaws on several topics. There is no requirement that the Registrar approve the bylaws prior to incorporation.

Membership and Meetings

The coop must establish bylaws that:

  • State whether a meeting of members is required to approve new members
  • Outline a member's obligation to provide money and define how payments are to be made
  • Set the notice period for meetings where budget or housing charges are discussed
  • Define the coop's requirements when leasing or renting a housing unit occupied by a member
  • Set the rules that apply when units are occupied by non-members
  • Set out the dispute resolution procedures for member-to-member and member-to-coop disputes. These bylaws must include the option of mediation
  • Define the way that the membership of a member can be terminated.

Administration

The bylaws must also:

  • Define the powers of the directors to set housing charges in situations where housing charges cannot be approved by the members
  • Define when and to what extent directors can borrow money on behalf of the coop
  • Set the requirements for distributing the budget
  • Specify a formula for determining a member's shares, should the member be terminated or the coop dissolved. This bylaw must also state how shares will be repaid under these circumstances
  • Provide for the establishment of adequate reserve

Meetings

The board of directors must call the first annual meeting of members no later than 18 months after the coop comes into existence.

Future annual meetings of members must be held not later than the earlier of

  1. 15 months after holding the first annual meeting
  2. 6 months after the end of the preceding financial year.

The coop can ask a court for an order extending the time within which to hold an annual members' meeting.

The directors may call a special meeting of the coop at any time.

Voting is usually done by a show of hands, unless a member who is entitled to vote at the meeting or any such percentage of members as is determined in the bylaws demands a vote by ballot. Proxy voting is not allowed.

Board of Directors

A coop must have at least 3 directors or, if the articles set out a minimum number greater than 3, it must meet that minimum threshold.

Not fewer than 2/3 of the directors must be members of the coop, or, if the articles require a greater proportion of member directors, the coop must meet that minimum threshold.

The Coop Act specifies that a director must:

  • be an individual
  • be at least 18
  • not be a represented adult as defined in the Adult Guardianship and Trustee Act or the subject of a certificate of incapacity under the Public Trustee Act
  • not be a formal patient according to the Mental Health Act
  • not be the subject of an order under the Mentally Incapacitated Persons Act
  • not be found to be of unsound mind by a court elsewhere than in Alberta
  • not have declared bankruptcy
  • have any other qualification and not have any other disqualification, as set out in the bylaws.

The bylaws of the coop may also set out the voting procedure for the election of directors. Elections are normally held at the Annual General Meeting (AGM).

Other: Reserves

The coop’s bylaws must provide for the establishment of adequate reserves as good cooperative business practices dictate. The directors must ensure that the reserves are set aside in accordance with the bylaws.

Access to Information

Each member of the coop is entitled to receive free of charge from the cooperative, on request, not more than once in each calendar year, one copy of the coop’s articles, bylaws and any unanimous agreement, and one copy of any amendments to them.

Members may examine the articles and bylaws, minutes of meetings, the register of directors and notices of change of directors during the coop’s usual business hours and may take extracts from the records, free of charge, or have copies of them made after payment of a reasonable fee.

Members are also entitled to a list of members in accordance with and for the reasons specified in the bylaws.

Offences

A person or coop is guilty of an offence when that person or coop does not comply with the Coop Act. A person can be fined up to $5,000 or imprisoned for no more than 6 months, or both .

The Act states that when a coop commits an offence, every principal, director, manager, employee and agent of the coop who authorized the act or omission can also be considered guilty of the offence and subject to a penalty, even if the coop has not been prosecuted for the offence.

Eviction/Expulsion of Members

There are two types of housing coops under the Act: continuing housing coops and home ownership coops. A continuing coop is a coop that was created under a prior version of the Coop Act and was continued under the current Act. A home-ownership coop is a coop created under the current Act.

The current Act provides different procedures for termination depending on whether the coop is a continuing coop or a home ownership coop.

Continuing Housing Coops

Grounds for Terminating (Evicting) a Member

The directors of the continuing housing coop can evict a member from the coop only if:

  • The member does not comply with an agreement he or she made with the coop or with a bylaw that deals with living in the housing unit or with his or her use of the property, and if the member has failed to fix a problem within a reasonable time of receiving a written notice from the coop to do so
  • The member owes money to the coop
  • The member has caused significant problems in a shared housing unit
  • The member has, on more than one occasion, failed to comply with the bylaws, even after receiving written notice of a problem from the coop.

The Termination Process

Termination begins with a written complaint about a member, his or her family member or a guest of the member, submitted to the board.

The complaint is discussed at a board meeting, at which time it is decided whether termination is warranted. If the board decides that termination is necessary, the directors of the coop must:

  • Make a resolution to terminate the member's membership
  • Hold a meeting to discuss and vote on the resolution
  • Give proper notice to the affected member so that he or she may attend the meeting to discuss the proposed resolution.

The individual whose membership is being considered for termination must have the opportunity to respond to the allegations against him or her. The board must give the member at least 14 days' written notice of the meeting and the notice must state:

  • the resolution to be considered at the meeting
  • the reasons for evicting the member from the coop
  • what the member's appeal options are.
The member can attend the board meeting alone, or with a lawyer or another representative, to respond to the resolution.

In order for the resolution to terminate to be carried, the directors must vote at a meeting that was called to consider the termination, and at least 3/4 of the directors must vote in favour of the resolution.

If the directors vote to terminate the member, the member must be given written notice within 7 days after the resolution to terminate the member is passed.

The directors can also evict a coop member if the member:

  • vandalizes or destroys property belonging to the coop
  • uses the housing unit for illegal activities
  • threatens the safety of members of the coop
  • is a physical danger to members of the coop or other residents
  • contravenes a bylaw relating to leasing of a self-contained unit to a non-member.

In such cases, the board is required to give only 3 days' written notice of the meeting at which the eviction will be considered.

The member can attend the board meeting alone, or with a lawyer or other representative to respond to the resolution.

In order for the resolution to terminate to be carried, the directors must vote at a meeting that was called to consider the termination, and at least 3/4 of the directors must vote in favour of the resolution.

Member's Right to Appeal

A member cannot appeal an eviction if the member:

  • failed to pay his or her housing charges or other fees owed to the coop
  • vandalized or destroyed coop property
  • engaged in an illegal activity while living in the unit
  • threatened the safety of other coop members
  • is a physical danger to other coop members or other residents
  • has failed to comply with a bylaw that deals with how a unit is leased to a non-member.

In all other cases, if the member plans to appeal, he or she must file a notice of appeal with the coop within 7 days of receiving the notice of termination. The member’s appeal must be heard at the next members’ meeting. At the meeting, the member and board present their cases and then both parties leave so that the members can discuss the issues. The members decide on the merits of the appeal, taking into account the requirements of the Act for evicting members and the evidence presented.

The members can pass an ordinary resolution, requiring a simple majority, to confirm (support) or quash (overturn) the directors' decision to evict the member. If the members vote against the directors' decision to evict the member, the member can continue to be a member of the coop.

The member does not have to move from the coop until a final decision has been made to terminate membership. Once the membership is terminated, the member and his or her family are no longer allowed to live in the coop. However, if the member refuses to leave, the coop must obtain a writ of possession (discussed below) to remove the member.

Obtaining a Writ of Possession to Remove the Terminated Member

If a member refuses to leave after his or her membership has been terminated, a non-profit continuing coop must get a writ of possession to remove the member unless the unit is vacant. To do this the coop must:

  • make an application for a writ of possession to the Court of Queen's Bench
  • serve a copy of the application on the evicted member at least 4 days before returning the original application to the court.
The application must explain:
  • why the coop wants the writ of possession and a summary of the order requested if the application is not disputed.
  • how the terminated member can dispute the application for the writ of possession.

Home Ownership Coops

Eviction/Expulsion — Grounds for Terminating (Evicting) a Member

The members of a home ownership coop can evict a member of the coop only if the member breaches or repeatedly contravenes the share subscription agreement, the articles, bylaws or policies of the coop or any agreement between the member and the coop.

Eviction/Expulsion — The Termination Process

The members may terminate if 3/4 of the members present at the meeting vote in favour. At least 70% of the members must be present throughout the meeting. Prior to the meeting, the directors of the coop must give at least 14 days written notice of the meeting. The notice must contain the following information:

  • the resolution to be considered at the meeting
  • the reasons for the termination.

A member can attend the meeting alone, or with a lawyer or other representative to respond to the resolution.

The member and the board present their cases to the membership, and then both parties leave the meeting so that the members can discuss the issue. The members can decide to evict a member only if the member has broken or continuously breaks the share subscription agreement, the articles, the bylaws or the policies of the coop or any agreements between the member and the coop.

Other Laws that may Apply

The Residential Tenancies Act and The Mobile Home Sites Tenancies Act do not apply to non-profit continuing housing coops and its members, unless and to the extent that the coop's bylaws make the Residential Tenancies Act or The Mobile Home Sites Tenancies Act apply to the coop. Therefore, a coop or a member should read the sections of the bylaws that deal with eviction to determine whether either of these Acts applies to their situation.

Collecting Money Owed

Allowed claim amounts for Civil Division of the Provincial Court (Small Claims Court):

  • up to and including $25,000. 

The coop can recover costs from a current or past member for:

  • occupying the unit after his or her membership has been terminated
  • unpaid housing charges and unpaid utilities
  • damages to the member unit
  • any costs associated with getting vacant possession of the housing unit, including legal costs.

Accepting payment of arrears does not stop the coop from terminating membership or taking back the unit.

For an overview of the small claims court process for each province and territory, see the section: An Overview of the Small Claims Court System.

If the amount claimed is more than $25,000, the claimant must take the claim to the Court of Queen's Bench and follow the Rules of Court applicable to that court. The Rules of Court tend to be very complex and it is suggested that the claimant consult a lawyer.

Related links

Alberta Courts
www.albertacourts.ab.ca/
Provides links to all of the courts in Alberta.

Alberta Human Rights and Citizenship Commission
www.albertahumanrights.ab.ca/
Provides useful information on how to bring a claim to the commission.

Northern Alberta Co-operative Housing Association (NACHA)
www.nacha.ca
Provides a summary of the cooperative principles and a note on applying for membership in a housing coop. The general contact information of housing coops in Northern Alberta and the dates of information sessions are also listed.

Southern Alberta Co-operative Housing Association (SACHA)
sacha-coop.ca
Provides general information about the organization, membership requirements and upcoming events.

Alberta Community and Co-operative Association
www.acca.coop/
This non-profit organization has served agricultural organizations, coops and credit unions since 1959.

Canada

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