Name of Act/Regulations
Cooperative Association Act SBC 1999, c. 28.
Part 11, Division 1 deals specifically with housing co-ops.
Cooperative Association Regulation B.C. Reg. 391/2000
Admitting New Members
If the co-op wishes to admit a member who is younger than 19, they must create a rule that allows them to do this. However, all members must be at least 16 years old.
Obligations of the Members to the Coop and of the Coop to its Members
All coops are expected to be run on a cooperative basis, which means that they must govern their members and make rules pursuant to the principles set out in the Coop Act:
- membership in the coop is open in a non-discriminatory manner to persons who can use the services of the coop and have accepted the responsibilities of membership
- members have only one vote and no member may vote by proxy
- members may not derive a gain from the coop
- surplus funds arising from the coop's operation are used
- to develop the coop
- provide or improve services to members
- establish reserves
- community welfare or to spread coop efforts
- educate members, officers, staff and the public about coop principles.
Memorandum of Association
A memorandum of association ("memorandum") is the originating document that creates a housing coop. A memorandum includes the name of the housing coop (including the word "co-operative", “cooperative” or “co-op” or “coop” in its name) and the address of the coop. Members must follow the memorandum of the coop. Members can vote to make changes to the memorandum by passing a special resolution. A coop may change its name, location or the number of directors on the board of directors by special resolution.
Rules must be consistent with the Coop Act. The Coop Act has restrictions that apply specifically to housing coops and that address:
- dissolving the coop
- paying back any money owed to members
- issuing shares to members.
A copy of the rules, together with the memorandum of association, list of first directors and notice of registered office, must be filed with the Corporate Registry to incorporate a cooperative. All coops must address the following matters in their rules, as prescribed by legislation:
- membership in the association
- membership shares
- general meetings
- directors and officers
- financial matters, including borrowing, investment powers and the distribution of surplus funds
- the manner of giving notice
- the service and execution of documents.
Co-ops may also make additional rules provided that they are consistent with the Act and Regulations.
A housing coop must hold at least one members' meeting, called an annual general meeting (AGM), no later than 4 months after the end of the fiscal year of the coop. The coop can agree to meet more often if permitted by the rules.
The Coop Act states that the members must be given 14 days notice of an AGM or a general meeting to hear a special resolution. For a general meeting where a special resolution will not be heard, at least 7 days notice must be given to members, unless the members make a rule requiring more than 7 days notice. The notice must state:
- the place
- the day
- the hour
- in the case of special business, the general nature of the matter to be considered.
Voting is usually done in person unless the rules provide for an alternative method. Proxy voting is not allowed.
Board of Directors
The Coop Act sets out who can sit on the board of directors and the steps for electing a board of directors. Essentially, to be a director legislation specifies that the member must:
- be at least 18
- not be found by a court to be incapable of managing his own affairs
- not have an undischarged bankruptcy
- not have been convicted of an offence involving fraud or an offence involving the promotion, formation or management of a corporation
- meet any other restriction set by the coop in its rules.
The reserve fund must be invested in accordance with the Coop Act, Coop Act regulations, operating agreement and any of its rules.
Directors must set aside at least 10 per cent of the coop's surplus in each fiscal year.
Access to Information
A coop must allow its members to examine documents of the coop, excluding confidential documents and in camera minutes of meetings, during regular business hours. The coop can impose reasonable restrictions on what information can be examined by members.
A coop that is guilty of an offence under the Coop Act can be fined up to $25,000.
Eviction/Expulsion of Members
Grounds for Terminating (Evicting) a Member
A member loses the right to occupy a unit or dwelling in the co-op when his or her membership is terminated.
A co-op can terminate a member's membership for any of the following reasons:
- outstanding housing charges or other money owed to the coop
- if the board has reasonable grounds to believe that a member has breached a material condition of the occupancy agreement relating to his or her use of the unit or the coop's property
- if a member has done something that is detrimental to the coop.
Examples of conduct that is considered to be "detrimental to the coop" may be included in the rules of the coop and can cover a broad range of behaviour, from physical damage to intimidating or harassing behaviour. Termination for conduct detrimental to the coop is subject to any rules for termination of membership.
Before the coop can terminate a member's membership, it must give the member a reasonable amount of time to fix the problem.
The Termination Process
To remove (evict) a member, the coop must first terminate the membership of the individual. Once the termination process is complete, if the member fails to vacate the unit then the coop may obtain a writ of possession to remove the member.
The termination process starts with a written complaint about an individual member, or his or her family member or his or her guest. The complaint is discussed at a board meeting and a decision on how to proceed is made by a resolution.
In most circumstances the coop must first give the member written notice explaining the situation and demanding that the member rectify the problem. However, if the grounds for termination are conduct detrimental to the coop, the coop can choose to send a notice to fix the problem or a notice of eviction.
If the problem continues, the next step is for the board to consider the termination of membership. In this case, the board must send another notice to the member stating that the board plans to meet to decide on whether to terminate the member's membership.
The member who is facing termination must be given proper notice and the opportunity to respond to the allegations against him or her. The board must give the member at least 7 days' written notice of the meeting. The notice can be sent by ordinary mail, delivered in person or as otherwise stated in the rules. Notice of the meeting must state:
- the resolution to be considered at the meeting
- the reason for terminating the member’s membership in the coop
- the date, time and place of the directors' meeting
- how the member may appeal any decision to evict him or her from the coop
- that the member can attend the board meeting alone, or with a lawyer or someone else.
After meeting with the member, the board may still decide to terminate the member’s membership by passing a resolution to that effect. In order for the resolution to terminate to be carried, at least ¾ of all directors (not just ¾ of those present at the meeting) must vote in favour of terminating the member. (For example, if a coop has 8 directors, at least 6 directors must vote in favour of termination.) Therefore, it is possible to have a quorum of directors at the meeting and still not have enough directors present to vote to evict a member from the coop.
Following the meeting to consider the termination of a member's membership, the coop must notify the member of the outcome, in writing, within 7 days.
The notice should also state the date by which the unit must be vacated. The coop must give the member a reasonable amount of time to leave, usually 1 month.
The coop must send this notice the same way it sent the first notice of the meeting to consider the resolution to evict the member.
Member's Right to Appeal
Unless the member’s membership is being terminated for failing to pay housing charges or other money due to the coop, the member may appeal the termination resolution. The member has 7 days to appeal from the date he or she received the notice of termination. The member must file a notice of appeal with the coop. The appeal will be heard at:
- the next general members' meeting; or
- a special members' meeting called by the directors to hear the appeal.
The member does not have to move from the coop until a final decision is made.
The member can attend the members' meeting alone or with a lawyer or other representative.
The members can pass an ordinary resolution, requiring a simple majority, to confirm or overturn the directors' decision to evict the member. If they vote against the directors' decision to evict the member, then 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 evict the member from the coop.
The co-op rules may require more than a simple majority of votes if the member is being evicted for:
- breach of a material condition of the occupancy agreement.
If the member’s membership is being terminated for conduct detrimental to the coop, a special resolution is required.
The coop must promptly give written notice to the member of its decision to terminate the member’s membership. The notice must tell the member that he or she may appeal the decision to the BC Supreme Court within 30 days from the date of receipt of the eviction notice.
The member is no longer considered to be a member of the coop once the members decide at the general meeting to terminate the membership. The member loses his or her rights and responsibilities as a member. The member may stay in the unit if he or she appeals the coop's decision to the BC Supreme Court. The member must continue to comply with the occupancy agreement or lease that he or she has with the coop.
The member must use the proper forms of the BC Supreme Court to appeal the members' decision to evict the member.
The appeal can be on the following grounds:
- the principles of natural justice were not followed
- the decision to evict is not based on the facts
- the decision to evict does not follow the steps for evicting a member set out in the Coop Act.
If the member appeals the decision to terminate membership to the BC Supreme Court, the coop can give its reasons for the decision to evict at a new hearing in court, called an appearance.
A member who decides to appeal the eviction to the court can ask the coop to issue a cheque payable to the BC Supreme Court Registry to cover the cost of court fees. The request must be made in writing and must be given to the coop within 10 days from the date that the member receives the members' decision to evict the member.
If this request is made on time, the coop must pay the fees, unless the member owes money to the coop. If money is at issue between the coop and the member, the court may require the member to pay the filing fee on his or her own. The court does not refund the fee. If the court agrees with the coop's decision to evict the member, the coop is allowed to recover the cost of the fee from the member.
The member or coop can appeal a decision of the BC Supreme Court to the Court of Appeal, if a judge allows it. The member can remain in the unit until the court gives an order to move from the coop.
Obtaining a Writ of Possession to Remove the Terminated Member
If the member appeals the termination of membership, the member may ask the court to issue an order of possession in favour of the member, if the court restores the membership, and the coop may ask the court to issue an order of possession in favour of the coop if the court upholds the termination.
When a member’s membership is terminated, the former member no longer has a right to remain in the unit. If the former member does not leave the unit, the coop may apply to the BC Supreme Court for a writ of possession. A writ of possession lets the coop take over the unit.
The court will listen to any information given by the member and the coop. The court will also consider any other information it thinks is important. Before giving the order, the court must be satisfied that the coop followed the principles of natural justice; otherwise the court may decide not to give the writ of possession to the coop.
Collecting Money Owed
Allowed claim amounts for Provincial Court (Small Claims):
- up to and including $25,000.
The co-op can recover from a current or past member any money owed to the co-op.
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 Supreme Court 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.
Effective Governance for BC Coops: Guide to the Co-operative Act
Published in April 2003, this comprehensive study covers such topics as membership, directors, meetings, voting at meetings, auditors and records as they relate to housing coops in British Columbia.
Suite 101 – 4555 Kingsway
Tel.: 604-433-2218 or
Toll free: 800-257-7756
BC Housing is a government agency. Provides extensive information on the government's social housing programs (commonly known as affordable housing programs) for low-income families.
BC Human Rights Tribunal
1170 – 605 Robson Street
Tel.: 604-775-2000 or
Toll free: 888-440-8844 (BC only)
Provides useful information on how to bring a claim to the commission.
BC Non-Profit Housing Association
Suite 303 – 3680 E. Hastings St.
Tel.: 604-291-2600 or
Toll free: 800-494-8859 (BC only)
Provides information about the organization and its services.
Courts of British Columbia
Provides links to all of the courts in British Columbia.
Co-operative Housing Federation of British Columbia (CHF BC)
220 – 1651 Commercial Drive
Tel.: 604-879-5111 or
Toll free: 866-879-5111 (BC only)
The website of CHF BC, a cooperative association whose members are housing coops and related organizations in British Columbia.
British Columbia Co-operative Association
1737 West 3rd Avenue, Suite 212
Provides information about the association and how to become a member of the association.