In general, provincial and territorial co-op acts say little about how a housing co-op should accept new members. Because co-ops are governed by their members, this means it’s up to your co-op to decide who becomes a member.
Approval of new co-op members
The process for admitting new members is set out in your housing co-op's bylaws or rules. Most co-ops have a similar process for recruiting and accepting new members. Specific parts of the process, though, will differ from co-op to co-op.
In general, a co-op:
- accepts applications based on its application process
- conducts a meeting or interview with the applicant
- puts the applicant on a waiting list (if no units are available)
- approves the application for membership
Your co-op’s board must ensure that clear membership policies exist and that they are followed when new members are admitted. These policies must not violate any human rights laws.
Several co-op acts prevent those under the age of majority from becoming co-op members. They may live in the co-op, but they do not have membership status.
Some co-ops will actively market their co-op to potential members and may hold public information sessions. Others strike (create) a membership committee to handle recruitment and interviews. In some housing co-ops, staff assist the board or membership committee. Staff may be responsible for advertising, doing credit checks and keeping members' files. Some co-ops even have staff interview applicants and keep files on prospective members.
Co-op waiting lists
A unit won’t always be available when someone applies to join your housing co-op. In this case, you would put the applicant on a waiting list that is processed on a first-come, first-served basis. Most co-ops have waiting lists and they may be particularly long for people who need subsidized housing.
Your co-op can’t allow applicants to sell their position on the waiting list to others. However, you may tell a person how far down the waiting list they are if they ask.
Occupancy agreement with members
Most co-ops have new members sign an occupancy agreement once the board has approved the application and offered a unit. This agreement is like a lease and sets out the rules that members need to accept and follow.
Housing co-ops and government funding
A housing co-op may receive money from the government to subsidize some of its units. In this case, the housing co-op must follow the rules set out in its funding agreement with the government. For example, the co-op may need to offer a certain number or percentage of units as subsidized housing.
Co-op members living in subsidized units have lower incomes and pay only a part of the housing charge. In these situations, the housing charge is usually set to about 30% of their household income.