Ontario

Name of Act/Regulations

Co-operative Corporations Act, RSO 1990, c. C-35.
Section 171 deals with non-profit housing co-ops.

The Coop Act states that landlord/tenant legislation does not apply to housing coops. However, if a legal claim is made by or against the coop under landlord/tenant legislation instead of under the Coop Act, the court will decide whether or not it will continue to hear the claim as a landlord/tenant matter.
www.e-laws.gov.on.ca/html/statutes/english/elaws_statutes_90c35_e.htm

Co-operative Corporations Act, RRO 1990, Reg 178 amended to O Reg 414/07
www.e-laws.gov.on.ca/html/regs/english/elaws_regs_900178_e.htm

Admitting New Members

The process for admitting new members is set out in the coop's bylaws.

Unless the bylaws provide otherwise, a person who has reached the age of 16 years may become a member of the coop.

A person becomes a member of the coop once:

  • his or her application for membership is approved by the board of directors
  • he or she agrees to follow bylaws dealing with the admission of members.

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 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 service to its members
    • donated for community welfare
    • used to spread co-operative 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.

The articles of a non-profit housing co-op must state that:

  • the primary object of the coop is to provide housing to its members
  • the coop's activities must be carried on without the purpose of gain for its members
  • on the dissolution of the coop and, after it has paid is debts and liabilities, the remaining property must be transferred or distributed to one or more non-profit housing coops or charitable organizations.

Members of a non-profit housing coop can make changes to the articles by passing a special resolution, provided that they do not try to change the legal status of the coop from a non-profit housing coop.

Bylaws

The Coop Act provides a framework for housing coops to create bylaws. A bylaw is created when:

  • it is passed by the board of directors
  • it is confirmed by at least 2/3 of votes cast by the members at a general members' meeting.

There is no requirement that the bylaws be submitted to the Superintendent prior to incorporation. However, the Superintendent must be provided with a copy of a bylaw that changes the location of the head office within 10 days of the passing of the bylaw. Also, if a bylaw changing the number of directors is passed by the directors, a copy must be sent to the Superintendent within 10 days after the bylaw is confirmed by the members.

Meetings

A housing coop must hold at least one members' meeting, called an annual general meeting (AGM), during each fiscal year of the coop. The board can also call other general members' meetings at other times.

The Coop Act states that the articles or bylaws of a coop may not provide for less than 10 days' notice of a meeting and in no case can a coop give members more than 50 days' notice of a meeting.

A members' meeting cannot occur if a quorum is not met. In other words, a certain number of members must be present for decisions to be approved. The Coop Act and the rules will set out the required number of members needed to have quorum.

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, legislation specifies that, to be a director, the member:

  • must be at least 18 years of age
  • cannot have an undischarged bankruptcy
  • cannot be incapable of managing property within the meaning of the Substitute Decisions Act, 1992.
Members can remove a director from the board by resolution passed by a majority of its members at a general meeting called for this purpose.

Access to Information

A housing coop must allow its members to examine certain documents of the coop during normal business hours and members are allowed to make copies of the documents. These documents include:

  • a copy of the articles
  • the coop's bylaws, resolutions and special resolutions
  • the membership register
  • the register of directors
  • the minutes of meetings of members and committees
  • the register of all transfers of securities.

Accounting records, resolutions of directors and minutes of meetings of directors or executive committees are excluded from this requirement. Subject to the bylaws, a coop may designate other times and locations for members to examine these documents.

Withdrawal of Membership

A housing coop allows a member to withdraw his or her membership according to the bylaws of the coop.

Offence

A coop that is guilty of an offence under the Coop Act can be fined up to $100,000. Each individual who commits an offence can be fined up to $10,000, with the amount of the fine depending on the type of offence.

Eviction/Expulsion of Members

Grounds for Terminating (Evicting) a Member

In Ontario, both membership and occupancy rights of a member must be terminated at the same time.

To do this, a majority of the board of directors must vote at a board meeting to terminate the member's membership and occupancy rights. Prior to the meeting the member must be given at least 10 days' written notice that the board of directors will consider termination. Grounds for termination must meet one of the following two conditions:

  • the member ceases to occupy a member unit
  • the member fails to meet an obligation set out in the bylaws, provided that the requirements in the bylaws are not unreasonable or arbitrary.
The notice must be signed by a director and, unless different requirements are set out in the bylaws, must:
  • state the time and place of the board meeting
  • explain the reasons for the proposed eviction
  • identify the unit to which the member has occupancy rights
  • specify the date of the proposed eviction
  • tell the member that he or she does not have to leave the unit immediately but that the coop may obtain possession of the unit by obtaining a writ of possession after the member's membership and occupancy rights have been terminated
  • tell the member that he or she has the right to attend the board meeting to explain why he or she should not be evicted
  • inform the member that he or she may appeal the board's decision to the members.

The member can attend the board meeting alone or with a person authorized by the Law Society to represent the member.

At the scheduled meeting, the board decides whether to continue with the eviction of the member and then gives the member written notice of its decision within 5 days. The notice must be signed either by the secretary of the coop or by another authorized person, as set out in the bylaws .

A coop cannot:

  1. withhold reasonable supply of any vital services, such as heat, fuel, electricity, gas, water, food or other vital service, that the coop is obligated to supply under the bylaws, or deliberately interfere with the supply of these services;
  2. substantially interfere with the member's enjoyment of his or her unit in order to force the member to give up his or her premises
  3. take the property of a member for non-payment of housing charges or any other money owed to the coop.

Appeal of Board's Decision to Members

The member can appeal the board's decision to the members within 7 days, or longer if provided in the bylaws, after he or she receives notice of the board's decision.

If a member appeals the decision, a members' meeting must be held, at least 14 days after appeal notice is received, to consider the appeal. The board's decision is suspended until the appeal is either decided at the members' meeting or abandoned by the evicted member.

The member can submit written arguments (a letter and/or other documents not exceeding 5,000 words) to support the appeal with the notice of appeal. These submissions must not deal with unrelated matters. The coop must give the members a copy of the written submissions before the meeting. If the board of directors refuses to distribute copies of a member's arguments, the board must give the coop members written notice of its refusal to supply the arguments to the members. Along with this notice, the board must provide a written explanation of the reasons for not distributing the arguments. This must be given to the member within 10 days after the written arguments are received.

Should this occur, the affected member can apply to the Superior Court of Justice:

  • to suspend the members' meeting that is scheduled to consider the appeal
  • to make any further order that the Court thinks fit.

Alternatively, the board of directors or any other person referenced in the member's written arguments may apply to the Superior Court of Justice for an order that allows the board to refuse to distribute the member's written submission.

The member can attend the members' meeting alone or with a person who is authorized by the Law Society to represent the member.

The appeal is decided by a majority vote of the members. If no decision is made by the members or if there are not enough members present to vote, the board's decision stands.

Expiration of Membership

Generally, the membership and occupancy rights of a member cannot expire unless the member consents, in writing, to their expiration. The coop cannot terminate membership and occupancy rights on the grounds that they have expired, without such written consent. 

Short Fixed Terms

If the membership and occupancy rights of a member are for a fixed term of less than one year and the coop gives the member written notice of the expiry of the term, the following will apply:

  1. The membership and occupancy rights of the member expire unless the member notifies the coo, in writing, that he or she wishes to continue his or her membership and occupancy rights
  2. The member must be given 30 days' notice that the term will expire. More notice may be required, if a longer period is set out in the bylaws
  3. If the member does notify the coop that he or she wishes to have both membership and occupancy rights continue, then:
    • he membership and occupancy rights continue
    • the membership and occupancy rights may be terminated only in accordance with the bylaws, for example: for non-payment of the member's housing charge, not on the grounds that they have expired
    • the coop may require the member to move, at the end of the fixed term, to a comparable or superior member unit with comparable housing charges.

Obtaining a Writ of Possession to Remove a Terminated Member

A coop must make an application to a judge of the Superior Court of Justice for a writ of possession:

  1. after a member's membership and occupancy rights are terminated
  2. if there is no member occupying the unit.

The coop and the affected member may each be represented by a person who is authorized by the Law Society to represent them.

The judge must determine the applicant's claim and may make an order:

  • declaring the membership and occupancy rights terminated
  • declaring that there is no member occupying a unit
  • issuing a writ of possession to the coop.
If the Court does not issue a writ of possession and the respondent remains in possession of the member unit, then the respondent's membership and occupancy rights have not been terminated.

When a member with occupancy rights withdraws those rights in writing, the coop may file a copy of the withdrawal with the local registrar of the Superior Court of Justice. The coop must do this no later than 30 days after the withdrawal or surrender is effective and their filing must be verified by an affidavit. If these conditions are met, the local registrar will sign an order directing that a writ of possession be issued. The effective date of the writ of possession cannot be earlier than the effective date of the withdrawal or surrender.

The member's withdrawal becomes void and ineffective unless, no later than 30 days after the effective date specified in the withdrawal, one of the following occurs:

  • the member gives up possession of his or her unit
  • the coop applies to the local registrar for a writ of possession, as outlined above.

Appeal From Registrar's Writ of Possession

Upon receiving a copy of the writ of possession granting possession of the unit to the coop, a member may apply to a judge to have the writ set aside. The member can dispute the coop's claim by either appearing when the application is heard or filing a written statement with the local registrar on or before the day for the return of the application. The written statement should briefly explain why the member disputes the coop's application.

In the case of a default judgment against the member, within 7 days of being served, the member can apply to a judge to have the judgment set aside.

If the judge supports the request to have the registrar's order set aside, the judge will hold a hearing to determine the coop's claim. A further appeal of this judge's decision may be made to the Divisional Court.

Court Determination of Possession/Arrears

Money held by the local registrar is paid to the party entitled to it when instructed to do so by a judge of the Superior Court. The judge may decide to do this once:

  • an order has become final
  • any of the parties has made an application to the Superior Court.

Court Refusal to Grant Coop's Application

When the court receives a coop's application for a writ of possession, a judge may, despite any other provision of the Act or the bylaws, refuse to grant the application if he or she is satisfied that it would be unfair to grant it. The judge could instead order that the enforcement of the writ of possession be delayed for up to one week.

The judge will also refuse to grant the application if he or she is satisfied that:

  • the coop has failed to comply with the law or the coop's articles or bylaws, and this failure is material and relevant to the application
  • one reason for the application is that the person against whom the order is sought:
    • has complained to any government authority regarding the coop's violation of any statute or municipal bylaw dealing with health and safety standards, including any housing standards or bylaws
    • has attempted to secure or enforce his or her legal rights
    • has children in the unit, provided that the unit is suitable for children and is not overcrowded.

Collecting Money Owed

Allowed claim amounts for Small Claims Court:

  • up to and including $25,000.

The coop can recover money owed by a current or past member after a person's membership and occupancy rights are terminated or if the member no longer occupies the unit. The coop must make an application to a judge of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice for an order that the person pay the arrears of housing charges or other amounts owing. This process is complex and it is recommended that the coop consult a lawyer.

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 Superior Court of Justice 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

Central Ontario Co-operative Housing Federation (COCHF)
290 King Street East, Suite 203
Kitchener, ON
N2G 2L3
Tel.: 519-579-2424  or
Toll free: 800-927-2834 (Brantford and Guelph only)
www.cochf.coop/
COCHF is the federation of housing coops in Kitchener – Waterloo, Cambridge, Guelph and Brantford, ON.

Co-operative Housing Federation of Eastern Ontario (CHASEO)
311 – 225 Metcalfe St.
Ottawa, ON
K2P 1P9
Tel.: 613-230-2201
www.chaseo.ca
CHASEO is the federation of housing coops located in the Ottawa area.

Co-operative Housing Federation of Toronto (CHFT)
658 Danforth Avenue, Suite 306
Toronto, ON
M4J 5B9
Tel.: 416-465-8688
Email: info@coophousing.com
http://co-ophousingtoronto.coop/
Provides information and advice about coop housing.

Golden Horseshoe Co-operative Housing Federation (GHCHF)
36 Keefer Court Unit 1A
Hamilton, ON
L8E 4V4
Tel.: 905-561-2667
Email: ghchf@primus.ca
www.ghchf.ca
GHCHF is the federation of housing coops located in Hamilton, St. Catharine's and the Niagara Region.

Ministry of the Attorney General — Small Claims Court
McMurtry-Scott Building
720 Bay Street, 11th Floor
Toronto, ON
M7A 2S9
Tel.: 416-326–2220 or
Toll free: 800-518–7901
Email: attorneygeneral@ontario.ca
www.attorneygeneral.jus.gov.on.ca/english/courts/scc
Explains the process for bringing an action to small claims court.

Ontario Co-operative Association
450 Speedvale Avenue West, Suite 101
Guelph, ON
N1H 7Y6
Tel.: 519-763-8271 or
Toll free: 888-745-5521 (Canada only)
Email: info@ontario.coop
www.ontario.coop
Provides general information about housing coops, how to start a coop and how to become a member of the association.

Ontario Human Rights Commission
180 Dundas Street W. Suite 900
Toronto, ON
M7A 2R9
Tel.: 416-326-9511 or
Toll free: 800-387-9080
Email: info@ohrc.on.ca
www.ohrc.on.ca
Provides information on how to bring a human rights complaint to the Commission.

Peel — Halton Co-operative Housing Federation
217 – 2155 Leanne Boulevard
Mississauga, ON
L5K 2K8
Tel.: 905-823-2667 or
Toll free: 1-800-731-2667
Email: phchf1@rogers.com
http://co-ophousingpeel-halton.coop
Provides general information about the federation. The Peel-Halton Co-operative Housing Federation is the federation of housing coops located in the Peel-Halton Region.

Seaway Valley Co-op Organization (SVCO)
SVCO Secretary
202 – 234 Guthrie Drive
Kingston, ON
K7K 6K8
www.ontario.coop/edirectory/seaway_valley_cooperative_organization_svco
Provides general information about the organization, and links to SVCO members.

Canada

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