Newfoundland and Labrador

Name of Act/Regulations

Co-operatives Act SNL 1998, c. C-35.1
Part 20 deals specifically with housing coops. (The official version is not online.)
www.assembly.nl.ca/legislation/sr/statutes/C35-1.htm

Landlord/tenant legislation does not apply to housing coops. The Coop Act of Newfoundland and Labrador states that landlord/tenant legislation cannot be used to determine the rights, responsibilities and obligations between housing coops and their members, particularly in the following areas:

  • units of the housing coop that members live in
  • the amount of housing charges to be paid by members
  • the eviction of members.

Admitting New Members

Coops in Newfoundland and Labrador set out the process for admitting new members in their bylaws. Membership is open to individuals who are willing to accept the responsibilities of living in a coop.

The bylaws will determine whether a person who is younger than 19 can be admitted as a member.

Typically, a person becomes a member of the co-op once:

  • his or her application for membership is approved by the board
  • he or she agrees to follow the bylaws dealing with membership, usually by signing an occupancy agreement.

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

Cooperative Basis

All coops are expected to be run on a cooperative basis, which means they are organized, operated and administered according to the following principles:

  • each member has at least one share
  • each member has only one vote
  • no member may vote by proxy
  • membership is open to anyone who can use its services and is willing to accept the responsibilities of membership
  • the coop operates as closely as possible at cost and any surplus is used to:
    • eliminate a deficit
    • develop the coop
    • educate members, officers, employees and the public about cooperatives
    • donate for community welfare
    • provide or improve services to members
    • establish reserves. 

Articles of Incorporation

Articles of incorporation ("articles") are the originating documents that create a housing coop. Articles include the name of the housing coop (including the word "Co-operative/Cooperative" in its name) and the address of the coop. Members must comply with the articles of the coop.

Bylaws

Bylaws must be consistent with the Coop Act. The Coop Act has restrictions that apply specifically to housing coops. Some of these are:

  • the coop's purpose must be to provide non-profit housing accommodations to its members
  • members cannot derive a financial gain from the coop
  • how money owed to a member must be paid back.

The members of a housing coop vote to accept the bylaws or to make changes to the bylaws.

A copy of the bylaws, together with the articles, must be sent to the Registrar for approval prior to incorporation.

Meetings

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 Act states that the coop must give members at least 10 days', but not more than 30 days', notice of a general meeting. The notice should state:

  • location
  • time
  • where applicable, the purpose of a special meeting.

Board of Directors

Members vote to elect a board of directors from the general membership. Coop Act regulations and coop bylaws set out who can sit on the board of directors and the steps for electing a board of directors. Essentially, legislation specifies that, to be a director, the member must:

  • be at least 19 years of age
  • have any other qualifications set out in the bylaws.

Elections are normally held at the AGM. The terms of directors are staggered so that not all director positions are newly filled at one time. Voting is usually done by a show of hands or by secret ballot, if there are more persons running for positions than the number of positions available on the board of directors. Proxy voting is not allowed. 

The board of directors must hold its first meeting within 30 days after the annual general meeting at which it was elected.

Access to Information

A housing coop must allow its members to examine the documents of the coop, except where the documents are considered by the board of directors to be confidential.

Offences

An individual who is guilty of an offence under the Coop Act can be fined up to $5,000, face imprisonment for a term of no more than 6 months, or both.

A coop that is guilty of an offence under the Coop Act can be fined up to $25,000.

Eviction/Expulsion of Members

The Termination Process

The coop will have bylaws that describe how a member is to be evicted from a coop. The coop must first terminate the membership of the individual that they wish to remove.

The terminating process starts with a written complaint about an individual member, his or her family or guest. This complaint is discussed at a board meeting and the decision on how to proceed is made by a resolution.

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 member.

For a resolution to pass, 3/4 of all elected directors (not just 3/4 of the directors present at the meeting) must vote in favour of termination. It may be possible to have a quorum of directors at the meeting and still not have enough directors present to pass a motion of termination.

The member must get at least 14 days notice of the meeting along with the reasons for the termination. The member can go to the meeting to explain why his or her membership should not be terminated.

If the resolution to terminate the member passes, the coop must give the member written notice of termination, in the same manner they gave notice of the meeting to consider the termination, within 7 days after the resolution to terminate the member is passed. The termination takes effect 30 days after the member receives the notice of termination.

If the individual fails to vacate the unit, the coop may obtain an order for possession from the Trial Division court.

Member's Right to Appeal

The member has 7 days from the date he or she receives the notice of termination to appeal the decision. The member must file a notice of appeal with the coop.

The appeal must be heard at the next general members' meeting. The member does not have to move from the coop until a final decision is made. A member who is appealing the termination is allowed to attend the general meeting alone or with a lawyer or an agent.

The members must follow the principles of natural justice when deciding whether to terminate a member. The members can pass an ordinary resolution, requiring a simple majority, to confirm (support) or quash (overturn) the directors' decision to terminate the member. The coop can make a bylaw that a resolution requires more than a majority to confirm or quash the directors' decision.

If members quash the directors' decision to terminate, the member can continue to be a member of the coop.

The coop must promptly give written notice to the member of its decision to terminate. 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. When this happens, the member loses his or her rights and responsibilities as a member.

Obtaining a Writ of Possession

If the terminated member does not leave the unit, the coop may apply to the court for a writ of possession. A writ of possession lets the coop take over the unit. The court may also make the following writs:

  • payment of arrears of housing charges
  • payment of charges for living in the unit up to the day the coop recovers the unit from the member
  • removal of the member's belongings from the unit.

Collecting Money Owed

Allowed claim amounts for Provincial Court (Small Claims):

  • up to and including $25,000.00

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

  • unpaid housing charges
  • compensation for use and occupation of the unit to the date the coop regained the unit
  • removing the member's belongings from the unit.

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 Trial Division 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

P.O. Box 453
Mount Pearl, NL
A1N 2C4
Tel.: 709-747-5615
Email: chanal@nl.rogers.com
www.chfcanada.coop/eng/pages2007/feds_1_1.asp
Provides general information about the coop housing association of Newfoundland and Labrador.

Newfoundland — Labrador Federation of Co-operatives (NLFC)
19 Crosbie Place, Suite 203 (Co-operators Bldg)
P.O. Box 13369
Station A
St. John's, NL
A1B 4B7
Tel.: 709-726-9431
Toll free: 877-726-9431
www.nlfc.coop/
This is the provincial organization that represents cooperatives in Newfoundland and Labrador.

Human Rights Commission Newfoundland and Labrador
The Beothuk Building
21 Crosbie Place
P.O. Box 8700
St. John's, NL
A1B 4J6
Tel.: 709-729-2709 or
Toll free: 800-563-5808
Fax: 709-729-0790
Email: humanrights@gov.nl.ca
www.justice.gov.nl.ca/hrc
Explains how to bring a complaint to the Commission.

Canada

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