Name of Act/Regulations
The Co-operatives Act, 1996, SS 1996, C-37.3
Part 23 deals specifically with housing coops.
The Co-operatives Regulations, 1998, RRS c. C-37.3 Reg 1
Saskatchewan Human Rights Code Regulations, RRS c. S-24.1 Reg 1
Landlord/tenant legislation does not apply to housing coops.
Admitting New Members
Coops in Saskatchewan set the procedure for admitting new members in their bylaws.
Unless there is a bylaw that prevents it, an individual who is 16 years or older can become a member.
A person becomes a member of the co-op once:
- his or her written application for membership is approved by the board
- he or she agrees to comply with the bylaws dealing with membership, usually by signing an occupancy agreement
- he or she has paid the 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 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
- each member has only one vote and no member may vote by proxy
- the coop's business is carried on primarily for the benefit of its members
- surplus funds arising from the co-op's operation are:
- used to develop the coop
- used to provide or improve services to members
- used for community welfare or to spread coop efforts
- used to educate members, officers, staff and the public about coop principles
- distributed to non-profit, charitable or benevolent organizations.
The coop must give its members at least 3 months' notice of an increase to housing charges.
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 vote to make changes to the articles by passing a special resolution. A coop may change its name, location or the number of directors sitting on the board of directors by special resolution.
The bylaws of a housing co-op must include or provide for the following:
- the coop must give every member a copy of the bylaws and the occupancy agreement
- each member is entitled to have quiet enjoyment of his or her unit
- either the co-op or the member is responsible for:
- the maintenance of the residential unit in a safe, habitable and reasonable state of repair
- the repair or replacement of fixtures
- any damage to the unit
- the coop and its agent, except in the case of an emergency, must give reasonable notice to a member before entering the member's unit
- the coop must allow candidates for public office to access the common areas of the coop
- the co-op must give 3 months' notice of any increase in housing charges except where:
- the registrar approves a shorter notice
- the members unanimously approve the increase at a general meeting
- the coop must give a minimum of 30 days' notice to a member of the termination of his or her membership, except where the member has broken bylaws governing:
- ordinary cleanliness of the unit after receiving written notice of the violation
- the use of the premises for prohibited purposes
- payment of housing charges.
The bylaws of housing co-ops must also address:
- the manner in which each member may be required to contribute money towards cooperative purposes
- the payment of housing charges and other services
- the manner for establishing the amount of housing charges
- a method or methods for resolving disputes between members and the coop
- the manner in which a member may withdraw his or her membership and how he or she may be required to repay any money owed to the coop
- the rules governing the leasing of housing units by members to non-members.
A copy of the bylaws and articles must be sent to the Registrar prior to incorporation, together with any other information required by the Registrar. Prior to approving the incorporation, the Registrar must be satisfied that the bylaws and articles comply with the Act, and it is therefore appropriate to approve the incorporation.
A housing coop must hold at least one members' meeting, called an annual general meeting (AGM), no later than 6 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 steps for electing a board of directors. Essentially, legislation specifies that, to be a director, an individual must be:
- at least 18 years of age
- of sound mind
- deemed not to be an undischarged bankrupt.
Elections are normally held at the AGM. Voting is usually done by a show of hands, unless three or more members at a general meeting demand a vote by ballot. When there are more nominees than positions open on the board, the vote must be done with a secret ballot.
The directors must set aside at least 5 per cent of any surplus in a reserve, except if the reserve fund is equal to or more than 20 per cent of the coop's total assets, as shown in its financial statement.
The reserve fund must be invested in the following:
- a credit union, the Saskatchewan Co-operative Credit Society Limited or a chartered bank
- bonds of Canada, Saskatchewan or any other province or territory of Canada;
- bonds or debentures of other cooperatives
- securities authorized in the Trustee Act.
Access to Information
A housing coop must allow its members to examine documents of the coop, excluding confidential documents and minutes of in-camera meetings, during regular business hours, and to take copies of the documents without charge.
A person or a coop is guilty of an offence if the person or coop makes an untrue statement in a filing required under the Coop Act. A person can be fined up to $5,000, jailed up to 6 months, or both.
A co-op can be fined up to $50,000, and any director involved may be fined up to $5,000, jailed for up to 6 months, or both.
Eviction/Expulsion of Members
Grounds for Terminating (Evicting) a Member
The coop makes its own bylaws, which set out how a member can be evicted from the coop. Landlord/tenant legislation will apply to the eviction of members only if the bylaws expressly state that landlord/tenant legislation will apply to the eviction of members.
In evicting a member, the co-op must first terminate the membership of the individual.
The Termination Process
The termination process starts with a written complaint to the board about an individual member. At a board meeting, the board discusses the complaint. A decision on how to proceed is made by resolution.
In order for the resolution to terminate to be carried, at least 2/3 of the directors on the board must vote for the termination. The secretary of the coop must inform the member within 10 days of the coop's decision to terminate his or her membership. Once a person's membership in the coop is terminated, he or she loses the right to occupy the unit.
Membership can also be terminated by the members at a general meeting if the termination is approved by at least 2/3 of the members who vote at the meeting and the person the members are seeking to evict has received 10 days' notice of the meeting.
Member's Right to Appeal
If a member is evicted by the board, the member can appeal the decision of the board at next general meeting of the members by giving written notice of his or her intention to appeal to the secretary within 30 days.
The member continues to be a member and does not lose his or her right to occupy the unit during the appeal.
During the general members' meeting, members vote to either confirm (support) or quash (overturn) the directors' resolution to terminate. This can be done with an ordinary resolution that requires a simple majority, unless the bylaws require otherwise.
If members quash the board's decision to evict the member, the member can continue to be a coop member. If the members vote to confirm the board's decision to terminate the member, the secretary of the coop must tell the member of the decision within 10 days after the decision was made.
The evicted member can appeal the decision to the registrar as long as he or she has not:
- failed to pay housing charges on time
- failed to fulfill any other financial obligations
- vandalized or destroyed coop property
- used the housing unit for illegal purposes
- failed to comply with a bylaw regulating the leasing of a housing unit to a non-member.
When a member appeals termination, he or she continues to be a member of the coop until the termination is confirmed by either the meeting of members or the registrar.
Obtaining a Writ of Possession to Remove the Terminated Member
If a member refuses to vacate the unit after having his or her membership terminated, the coop must make an application for a writ of possession to the Director of Residential Tenancies or the Court of Queen's Bench.
The coop has up to 1 year from the date of termination to pay the member all moneys held on his or her behalf, with interest. However, if the coop cannot, after all reasonable efforts have been exhausted, locate the member after he or she moved from the coop, the coop must transfer the moneys owed to the former member into a reserve fund.
If the member was terminated or he or she moved from or abandoned the unit formerly occupied by the member and has left property in the housing unit, the coop can apply to the Director of Residential Tenancies for an order to remove the member's property and sell or otherwise dispose of the property. The Director of Residential Tenancies must first be satisfied that the coop has made a reasonable effort to find the former member.
The proceeds of the sale or disposition of the property must be paid to the Director of Residential Tenancies in trust for the former member, after deducting costs incurred for the disposition and any arrears of housing charges and damage that the Director of Residential Tenancies allows. If the former member does not claim the remaining proceeds held by the Director of Residential Tenancies within 3 months after the day the moneys were paid to the Director of Residential Tenancies, the Director of Residential Tenancies will then forward the moneys to the Minister of Finance to be deposited in the general revenue fund.
Collecting Money Owed
Allowed claim amounts for Civil Division of the Saskatchewan Provincial Court (Small Claims):
- up to and including $20,000.
The coop can recover costs from a current or past member for unpaid housing charges.
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 $20,000, 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 involved and it is suggested that the claimant consult a lawyer.
Office of Residential Tenancies
Regina: 120 – 2151 Scarth St,
Saskatoon: #105 – 122 – 3rd Avenue North
Tel.: (toll free in SK): 888-215-2222
University of Saskatchewan — Centre for the Study of Co-operatives
101 Diefenbaker Place
University of Saskatchewan
Offers useful resources and studies in the area of cooperatives.
Saskatchewan Co-operative Association
1515 20th Street West
Provides information about the association and coops.
Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission
Suite 816, Sturdy Stone Building
122 – 3rd Avenue North
Toll free: 1-800-667-9249 (Saskatoon) or 1-800-667-8577 (Regina)
Provides information on how to bring a human rights complaint to the Commission.