Housing Co-operatives in Ontario are legally governed by The Co-operative Corporations Act.
The Act guarantees certain basic rights to all co-operative members, including:
THE ADVANTAGES AND RESPONSIBILITIES OF CO-OPERATIVE HOUSING MEMBERSHIP
The members of a housing co-operative will benefit greatly from their living situation if their project is well-run, on a sound financial footing, and well-maintained. However, since it is up to the members to determine how the co-op will be run, they, in fact, control the extent to which they will benefit.
Participation in co-op activities and in the decision-making process is the key to each member's control over the running of the project. Participation will yield additional social benefits as neighbours become friends and a community is formed. And so, the prime responsibility of co-op membership, that of participation in the running of the co-operative, is at the same time one of the primary advantages.
CO-OP HOUSING MEMBER BENEFITS
1. Security of Tenure
As a co-op member, you can feel secure that you can occupy your unit as long as you choose, provided that your obligations to the Co-operative are fulfilled. There is no landlord who can sell your home out from under you.
2. Cost Control
Monthly housing charges are set by the members and need only increase as much as necessary to meet increased operating costs within the co-operative (e.g. hydro rate increase, increases in the price of supplies, etc.). No increases are arbitrary, and no extra money is collected as profit. These factors all result in a slower rate of increase in charges than occurs in the private rental market. Members also determine some of the costs themselves by voting on the level of services they wish to provide within the co-op.
3. Other Economic Advantages
Co-op members can use their association to achieve economic advantages through bulk purchasing of supplies and services.
4. Control of Surroundings
Through the democratic process which is used to run all co-operatives, members of a housing co-op determine, as a group, the kind of environment in which they will live. They make decisions relating to their physical surroundings, about areas such as decorating, landscaping and whether or not pets are allowed. They also make decisions regarding acceptable social and interpersonal behaviour, such as allowed noise levels, how to handle disputes between neighbours and the shared use of common areas. Maintenance standards are set by the members as well.
5. Satisfaction of Social Needs
A feeling of community grows up in a housing co-operative which does not exist in most urban settings. Through participation in the co-op and working together, members get to know one another and become friends. Social and recreational activities are often part of a co-op's program.
6. Increased Mobility
A family can often move from one unit to another within the co-op as it increases or decreases in size.