In less than a month, legislative changes take effect that will dramatically alter the way housing co-operatives handle evicting their members.
The legislation amends the Co-operative Corporations Act and Residential Tenancies Act, and could mean more work for paralegals. The biggest change: most co-op eviction disputes will move from the courts to the Landlord & Tenant Board (LTB). Other changes affect student co-ops and the rules around fixed-term membership; a co-op’s right to gain possession of a unit at the end of the term is clarified.
Social Justice Tribunals Ontario (SJTO), the body that oversees such tribunals as the LTB and the Human Rights Tribunal, is working out details. This includes the notices, application forms and rules that the LTB will use once the co-op’s internal process is complete. SJTO is to develop procedures unique to co-op evictions, because co-ops are not like any other “landlord” in the province.
No More Automatic Appeal to Members
Co-ops’ internal eviction processes are also being amended, including service changes. But the biggest change is to the internal appeal process. Co-ops will no longer be obligated to allow a member to appeal a board decision to a members’ meeting. If a co-op changes its by-laws, it could set limits and determine which issues are appealable for its members facing eviction.
Until now, housing co-ops that needed to evict members had to apply to Superior Court for an eviction order — an expensive move with no guarantee of success.
Another change: The Co-operative Housing Federation of Canada (CHFC) advises its members in the Spring 2014 Newsletter to:
Find a paralegal to represent the co-op at the LTB or look at training your manager to do this, if the manager is employed directly by the co-op. (Employees of a management company cannot represent the co-op unless they are qualified as a paralegal.)
The legislation has received Royal Assent and the changes are scheduled to take effect June 1.
Housing co-ops are owned by a non-profit corporation made up of resident-members. An elected board oversees each co-op and sets internal policies. This could include internal bylaws listing reasons for eviction that are not iterated in the Residential Tenancies Act. Evictions for any reason not included in the legislation will still need to be dealt with at Superior Court.
About 125,000 people in Ontario live in 550 co-ops. This housing alternative is not social housing; per-unit subsidies are available in most co-ops, but members are “residents,” not tenants. Most co-op members are expected to help manage and maintain their co-op, in addition to paying their housing charges.