Name of Act/Regulations
Co-operative Associations Act, RSNS 1989, c. 98.
Housing coops are addressed in section 61.
Co-operative Associations Regulations, NS Reg 155/78
Residential Tenancies Act, RSNS 1989, c. 401.
Residential Tenancies Regulations, NS Reg 190/89.
Housing coops must also comply with landlord/tenant legislation as set out in the Nova Scotia Residential Tenancies Act. The Residential Tenancies Act deals with:
- the rights, responsibilities and obligations of housing coops and its members
- occupancy agreement requirements
- restrictions on increases to housing charges,
- how to evict a member.
The Residential Tenancies Board, the body that hears landlord/tenant matters, will not become involved in a dispute between a coop and its member, if the dispute can be dealt with under the bylaws of the coops. This is because the relationship between a coop and its members is contractual. The member agrees to follow the bylaws of the coop when he or she becomes a member of the coop.
A housing coop or its member can have the Residential Tenancy Board deal with matters that cannot be dealt with successfully within the coop. For example, although a housing coop can increase the housing charge paid by a member, the increase cannot exceed the amount permitted under the Residential Tenancies Act.
For more information on Nova Scotia's residential tenancy legislation please visit Your Guide to Renting a Home: Nova Scotia Fact Sheet.
Admitting New Members
The process for admitting new members is set out in the coop's bylaws.
A person becomes a member once:
- his or her written application is approved by the board of directors
- he or she has paid a membership fee.
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 they are organized, operated and administered according to the following principles:
- each member has only one vote
- no member may vote by proxy
- the coop operates as closely as possible at cost and any surplus is:
- used to maintain or improve the services to its members
- donated for community welfare
- used to spread cooperative principles.
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. Members can make changes to the articles by passing a special resolution, subject to the approval of the province's Inspector of Co-operative Associations. At least two-thirds of the votes cast must be in favour of the special resolution for it to be carried. A coop may change its name, location or the number of directors on the board of directors by special resolution.
A copy of the bylaws, together with the articles, must be sent to the Registrar for approval prior to incorporation.
The bylaws set out the procedures for application for membership, payment for shares in the coop, withdrawal or exclusion of members, the qualifications and duties of directors, how meetings are held and other matters relevant to the running of the coop.
A housing coop must hold at least one members' meeting, called an annual general meeting, no later than 4 months after the end of the fiscal year of the coop.
Board of Directors
The Coop Act sets out who can sit on the board of directors and the minimum number of directors. The board of directors must have at least three duly qualified members.
The Coop Act sets out that the qualifications, powers and duties of the directors must conform to the regulations and bylaws.
Essentially, to be a director, the member must not be someone:
- who is not a member of the coop
- who is an employee of the coop for more than thirty days in the calendar year, unless approved by the Inspector
- who engages in business that competes with the business of the association unless approved by the Inspector
- who has failed to attend three consecutive meetings of the board of directors without just cause.
Additional qualifications can be set out in the bylaws.
A newly incorporated cooperative must elect a board of directors, in accordance with regulations and bylaws, within 4 months of its incorporation.
Access to Information
A housing coop must allow its members to examine the documents of the coop free of charge. The coop may make reasonable restrictions, such as excluding confidential documents and minutes of in-camera meetings.
If a person fails to give an Inspector under the Coop Act any books or documents or fails to answer any questions relating to the business of the coop, then he or she can be fined up to $100.
A coop that is guilty of an offence under the Coop Act can be fined up to $5,000.
Other: Landlord/Tenant Legislation
Housing coops must also comply with the Residential Tenancies Act, which is the law that governs landlord/tenant relations in Nova Scotia.
Landlord/tenant legislation sets out the obligations of the housing coop to provide members with a copy of the bylaws of the housing coop and a signed occupancy agreement, where applicable, and to maintain the premises in a good state of repair. Members are also entitled to quiet enjoyment of their unit. The coop must also provide members with notice of any increase to the housing charge.
Members are obligated under landlord/tenant legislation to pay their housing charges on time.
Your Guide to Renting a Home provides an overview of how the Residential Tenancy Act affects landlords and tenants. Please visit the Nova Scotia fact sheet for information on landlord/tenant legislation in Nova Scotia:
Eviction/Expulsion of Members
Grounds for Terminating (Evicting) a Member
A member may be evicted from the coop for failing to comply with a regulation or a bylaw of the coop.
The Termination Process
The coop must first terminate the membership of the individual that they wish to evict. It may then remove the individual from the unit.
The termination process starts with a written complaint to the board about an individual member. At a board meeting, the board discusses the complaint and decides how to proceed.
Although the Act does not require the board to give a member notice or the right to appear at the directors’ meeting, it is desirable for the board to give the member written notice explaining the situation and demanding that the member rectify the problem by a specified date.
If the problem continues, the board should send another notice to the member. The notice should state:
- that the directors plan to meet to decide on whether to terminate the member
- the date of the meeting
- the proposed date of the eviction
- the reasons for the eviction.
The notice is sent by registered mail to the member's last known address.
The individual whose membership is being considered for termination must be given an opportunity to respond to the allegations against him or her. The member may choose to speak on his or her own behalf. If the member wishes to be represented by a lawyer, it is advisable that the board permit this, since a refusal may permit a court to overturn a decision to evict on the basis that the member was denied natural justice.
The board can evict the member by a resolution passed by a majority of directors present at the meeting. After evicting the member, the board is required to send a notice to the member by registered mail at his last known address, setting a date at least one month after the date of mailing the notice on which the eviction is to be effective.
Member's Right to Appeal
After the member receives the notice, the member can ask the board to place the matter on the agenda for the members to consider during the next special or general meeting of the members. The member may do this at any time before the eviction date.
A member who is appealing termination is allowed to attend the general meeting alone or with a lawyer or an agent. The member has the right to give reasons why he or she should not be evicted.
The members must vote whether or not to evict the member. Their decision is final and the member has no further appeal mechanisms within the coop.
Residential Tenancies Program Appeals
However, because landlord/tenant legislation applies to coops, the member or the coop can appeal the members' decision to the Residential Tenancies Program. To do this they would file an application to the director along with an application fee. A hearing is scheduled and the other party must be served with copies of the application and a notice of the hearing. Once the other party is served, an Affidavit of Service must be filed with the Residential Tenancies Program as proof of service.
The parties can agree to settle the matter through mediation once they have been served with a notice of the hearing. Mediation is an alternative way to solve a problem between the coop and a member, but both parties have to agree to mediation. If a settlement or agreement is made between the parties, Minutes of Settlement are drafted and signed by the parties, and no hearing takes place.
Each party must prepare for the hearing and is permitted to present evidence to support its case. The hearing is heard by a Residential Tenancy Officer, who will issue a decision within 14 calendar days of the hearing.
The losing party can appeal to the Small Claims Court the decision of the Residential Tenancy Officer within 10 calendar days of the date of the Director's Order.
When a member is evicted, the coop must return any money owed to the member, less any amount that the evicted member owes to the coop.
Collecting Money Owed
Allowed claim amounts for Small Claims Court:
- up to and including $25,000.
The coop can recover from a current or past member any money owed to the coop.
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.
Nova Scotia Co-operative Council
In Person: 347C Willow Street
Mail: PO Box 1872
This is the provincial development arm of the co-operative and credit union system.
Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission
1601 Lower Water Street, 6th Floor
P.O. Box 2221
Provides information on how to bring a human rights complaint to the Commission.
Service Nova Scotia — Residential Tenancies for Nova Scotia
Access Nova Scotia Centre
300 Horseshoe Lake Drive
Bayers Lake Business Park
(for Halifax area; addresses for the Access Nova Scotia locations that provide Residential Tenancies services throughout the province are available at www.novascotia.ca/snsmr/access/land/residential-tenancies/contact.asp)
Toll free: 800-670-4357
This website is part of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations website dealing with the Residential Tenancies Program. Provides answers to frequently asked questions, forms and contact information.
The Courts of Nova Scotia
Provides links to courts in Nova Scotia.