A non-profit housing co-operative (co-op) is a corporation that is owned and operated by the people who live in it. People who live in co-ops are called members, not tenants.

Each co-op is governed by a board of directors, made up of members who are elected by the members of the co-op.

Members of a housing co-op have the right to:

  • Live in the co-op as long as they comply with the co-op’s rules and by-laws
  • Elect a board of directors
  • Run for election to the board of directors
  • Review and ratify the co-operative’s audited financial statements and annual operating budgets
  • Approve the housing charges that are set annually
  • Approve the co-op’s by-laws, rules and major policies

Members’ Rights & Responsibilities

The Co-operative Corporations Act is the Ontario law that gives co-ops and their members’ specific rights and responsibilities.

Co-ops are not considered to be landlords and therefore the Residential Tenancies Act does not apply to their operations.

The Landlord and Tenant Board (LTB) rules and processes also do not apply to co-ops, except for rules about evictions.

  • To apply for a subsidy to help pay for co-op housing, visit MyAccesstoHousingTO.
  • Applicants who can pay the full or “market” housing charges should contact the co-op directly to ask about their application process. A list of co-ops in Toronto is available from Co-operative Housing Federation of Toronto (CHFT).
  • Most housing co-ops take a meeting with potential members before entering into an Occupancy Agreement. This allows the applicant and the co-op to assess whether this housing opportunity is suitable.

Occupancy agreements are similar to leases or tenancy agreements. They are a contract between the member (resident) and the co-op. They usually indicate:

  • the length of the occupancy (for example, 12 months)
  • the amount of the housing charge (sometimes referred to as rent)
  • that members must pay their housing charges on time and follow the rules of the co-op
  • services that will be included in the housing charge (for example, parking, cable, heat, and electricity)

As a member of a co-op, if you think you are not getting the services you have been promised, you should contact co-op management or the board.

In co-ops, the members’ monthly payment (rent) is called a “housing charge”.

Co-ops are entitled to collect the housing charge in full on the day that it is due. Similarly’ members are responsible to pay their housing charge in full on the day that it is due.

By-laws are the rules and regulations that govern and define parts of a co-op’s business. They set out the rules and policies that are to be followed by the co-op and its members.

The by-laws or rules and policies must be available to all members. You may request them from your co-op’s management office. Housing co-ops must allow its members to examine certain documents during normal business hours and members are allowed to make copies of the documents. These documents include:

  • the co-op’s articles of incorporation
  • the co-op’s bylaws, resolutions and special resolutions
  • the co-op membership register
  • the register of the co-op’s directors
  • the minutes of meetings of members and committees
  • the register of all transfers of securities

The member’s relationship with the co-op is covered by the occupancy agreement (similar to a lease) and the co-op’s by-laws.

Co-op membership comes with the expectation that complaints about the operations of the co-op will be resolved internally. Members have the right to vote in board elections and participate in the running of the co-op. Day-to-day decision-making is delegated to the board of directors and staff but bigger decisions are decided by a vote of the membership.

To file a complaint about the operation of your co-op, contact the co-op’s management office and ask about the complaint process. This process should include the opportunity to escalate the complaint to the board of directors, if you feel that your complaint has not been addressed sufficiently.

The Co-operative Housing Federation of Toronto can assist you with finding and interpreting your co-op’s by-laws.

The co-op must keep the building and the housing units in a good state of repair. The co-op is responsible for fixing components of the building and housing unit that break or do not work properly (example, a broken refrigerator, a clogged drain or leaking pipes).

Members should contact the co-op’s management office first to make service requests for issues such as pests, low or no heat, plumbing problems, leaky ceilings or problems in common areas of the building.

If no action is taken and problems persist, follow the co-op’s policies and procedures for dispute resolution. You may put your issue in writing and send it to the board of directors and request a response in writing.

The City’s RentSafeTO program does not cover co-ops. Members should work cooperatively with the co-op management to ensure the building is well maintained.

The Landlord and Tenant Board (LTB) rules and processes related to evictions also applies to co-ops.

A co-op must follow the LTB rules in order to evict a member. There are many points in this process at which a co-op member can try to fix the situation and/or pay arrears and have the eviction stopped.

A co-op cannot change the locks or cut off vital services to evict a member. This can only be done by the Court Enforcement Office (the Sheriff) on the basis of an order from the Landlord and Tenant Board.

A co-op member does not have to move out upon receiving a notice of eviction. If you do not want to move out, the co-op must then file an application to evict with the LTB. It will be determined at the LTB hearing whether or not the eviction will proceed.

Visit Understand & Fight Evictions to learn more about the eviction process and your options.