The purpose of this policy is to make sure that:
- applicants have enough information to decide whether they are interested in living in the Co-op
- the Co-op has enough information to evaluate applications that are received
- applications are evaluated fairly against the Co-op’s membership criteria
- The Board will delegate the responsibility for the membership application and approval process to a standing Membership Committee. The Membership Committee may include co-op staff as well as co-op members. The Board will approve the terms of reference for this committee.
- The Membership Committee shall be made up of an uneven number of members, with a minimum of three, appointed by the Board from a list of members who are willing to serve. Committee appointments will be approved on an annual basis by the board. Members of the Membership Committee may not concurrently serve on the Co-op’s Board of Directors.
- The Membership Committee shall:
- ensure that website information regarding membership is current
- respond to requests from the public for information about co-op membership
- at regular intervals, arrange Membership Information Meetings for interested people
- receive completed Membership Application Forms
- conduct in-person application reviews with people interested in joining the Co-op.
- verify information on household financial resources provided by applicants
- recommend Board acceptance or refusal of applications, and inform applicants
- add the names of approved applicants to the External Waiting List for units.
- ensure that the External Waiting List is regularly updated.
- The Chair of the Membership Committee is selected by the Committee members and is charged with the responsibility of:
- ensuring that proper procedures are followed in dealing with applications for membership
- forwarding recommendations for membership to the Board for approval
- ensuring that all necessary records are kept
- reporting to the Board regularly on the Committee’s activities
- reporting to the co-op membership at least twice annually
- Information provided by applicants for membership in OGHC is protected by relevant privacy information guidelines and will remain confidential. All members of the Membership Committee must sign Confidentiality Agreements annually.
PART 1 – MEMBERSHIP APPLICATION PROCESS
For OGHC, the objective of the membership selection process is to choose the best possible membership for the Co-op taking into account the needs of the individual and the needs of the co-op community.
In assessing applications for membership, the Co-op will comply with the Manitoba Human Rights Code and will not discriminate against anyone in a way that is prohibited by the Code. The Co-op will assess all applications on the basis of the Principle of Open and Voluntary Membership to which OGHC subscribes.
B. Membership Criteria
Applicants for membership in OGHC must meet the following standards:
- aged 18 years or older
- share the values and principles underlying the co-operative housing movement.
- have shown:
- a positive attitude towards living in a community with people from different social, economic, and cultural backgrounds, and a commitment to treating other members with respect
- a commitment to contributing to the operation and life of the Co-op
- a willingness to maintain their unit in good repair.
- their household has housing needs that can be accommodated by the Co-op.
- their household is financially responsible (ie. the Co-op does not have reasonable grounds to believe the household may fail to pay their housing charge).
The Co-op will apply these standards equally to all applicants.
C. Application Requirements
- All persons in the applicant’s household who are 18 years of age or older, who are not dependents, and intend to live in the Co-op must apply for membership.
- If an adult household member does not apply for co-op membership, he/she will be considered a long-term guest (see OGHC Members Household and Guests Policy).
- Before applying for co-op membership, all adult household members should attend a Membership Information Meeting to learn more about living in a housing cooperative, about the amenities provided by OGHC, and the financial expectations of unit occupants.
- Applicants for co-op membership must apply using the form provided (see Schedule A – Membership Application Form). The application form may be submitted online from the OGHC website, or by mail.
- The need for, and amount of, an application fee will be determined by the Membership Committee and approved by the board. This fee can be paid by check or by electronic transfer.
The Membership Application Form includes an agreement, signed by the applicant, regarding the privacy of the personal information being provided. OGHC may conduct a credit check and landlord check on applicants, for the purposes of determining financial responsibility only. OGHC will use the information obtained only in connection with the application for co-op membership (see OGHC Personal Information Protection Policy).
PART 2 – MEMBERSHIP APPROVAL PROCESS
A. Application Review
- Every adult household member who is applying for co-op membership must attend an application review, ideally on the same occasion.
- Reviews will be conducted by a minimum of 2 members from the Membership Committee using a standardized question format which is consistent with the Manitoba Human Rights Code.
- Following the review, the Membership Committee representatives will complete and sign the Membership Application Review Record giving their recommendation (see Schedule B).
- If the External Waiting List for the type/size of unit requested is long, the Membership Committee may choose to delay seeking information about the household’s financial situation until closer to the date of occupancy. This fact will be noted on the Membership Application Review Record.
- The Membership Application Review Record will be given to the Chair of Membership Committee who will send it to the Board for approval.
B. Board Decision on Membership Application
- The Board will consider recommendations from the Membership Committee at the next monthly board meeting, unless there is a compelling reason to do so more quickly.
- The Board can make a decision to approve the recommendation of the Membership Committee or can make other decisions, such as requesting another application review.
- Following the board meeting, the Chair of the Membership Committee will inform the applicant of the Board’s decision.
C. Contract between OGHC and Approved Applicants
- When an applicant is approved for membership there will be deemed to be a contract between OGHC and the applicant.
- OGHC is obligated to add the approved applicant’s name to the Co-op’s External Waiting List and to allocate a unit to the applicant in accordance with the OGHC Waiting List and Unit Allocation Policy.
- OGHC must permit the approved applicant to become a member and occupy a unit in accordance with the Co-op’s Organizational By-law.
D. Withdrawal of Membership Approval
- Evidence of household income and financial responsibility will be required prior to offering the applicant a unit.
- Depending on the length of the External Waiting List for the unit type/size requested, the Membership Committee may choose to delay collecting this information until the applicant’s name nears the top of the External Waiting List.
- Where new information about an approved applicant comes to the attention of the Co-op prior to the offer of a unit, the Co-op may withdraw its approval of the application for membership without liability.
- If approval of the application is withdrawn, the application will be treated as if originally refused and the applicant will be entitled to a review as described in Part 3 – Paragraph B.
PART 3 – MEMBERSHIP REFUSALS AND REVIEWS
OGHC will not refuse applications for membership without careful thought. The only grounds for refusal are that the applicant does not meet the stated membership criteria.
A. Record of Refusals
The Co-op will maintain a written record of applications that are refused for 12 months from the date of the board decision.
- If an applicant disagrees with a refusal of his/her membership application, the applicant has the right to request a review of the decision by the Board of Directors.
- The Chair of the Membership Committee will forward the applicant’s records to the Board.
- The Board may choose to only review the applicant’s documentation, or may decide to interview the applicant in person.
C. Re-applying After Refusal
- Applicants who have been refused co-op membership can submit a new application for membership a minimum of 9 months from the date their application was refused. For example, applicants may feel that their financial circumstances have changed and that they now meet the Co-op’s membership criteria.
- The re-application will be handled in the same way as a completely new application (ie application fee, if any, must be paid, evidence of financial responsibility will again be checked). However, the applicant does not need to attend another Information Session.
- If possible, the applicant’s review meeting will be conducted by different representatives from the Membership Committee.