A housing co op is a non-profit corporation made up of members who are all residents of the co op. The members elect the board of directors and usually must help run the co op.
Because of this democratic structure, the law has taken a more hands off approach to disputes in co ops compared to disputes between landlords and tenants.
While landlords can evict tenants only for the reasons set out in the Residential Tenancies Act, co ops can evict members for breaking any reasonable rules set out in the co op's own by‑laws.
And while landlords must be able to justify their reasons for an eviction at a hearing before the Landlord and Tenant Board, co‑ops usually only needed to prove in court that they followed the right steps in coming to their decision.
But the rules about this changed as of June 1, 2014. That's the date that the Landlord and Tenant Board (LTB) started dealing with most types of co op eviction cases.
Eviction cases under the new rules will follow a process under the Residential Tenancies Act that's very similar to the process for landlords and tenants.
If a co op decides to evict a member, they will have to give the person a "Notice of Termination" on an LTB form.
The notice must give details of the reasons for the eviction. And if the member doesn't then move out, the co op must apply to the LTB for an eviction order.
At the LTB hearing, the co op will have to prove that they have a valid reason for the eviction. The co-op member will be able to challenge that and to raise other reasons why they shouldn't be evicted.
It will no longer be enough for the co op just to show that they followed the proper steps before deciding to evict the member.
Because a neutral tribunal, the LTB, will make the final decision, co-op members should be better protected from unjustified evictions.
Lower legal costs
Another effect of this change has to do with legal costs. Up until now, all co op eviction cases had to be heard in the Superior Court of Justice, where legal costs can be fairly high.
This meant that a co op member who fought a losing battle against being evicted could end up having to pay thousands of dollars for the co op's legal bills as well as their own.
This risk will now be much lower at the LTB, where orders to pay legal costs are generally in the hundreds of dollars instead of the thousands.
Not all co op disputes will go to the Landlord and Tenant Board
The new process applies only to evictions for certain reasons. These reasons are similar to those that already apply to tenants. They include things like causing damage, breaking the law, seriously disturbing or risking the safety of other residents, and not paying housing charges.
Evictions for other reasons set out in the co ops by laws, but not listed in the Residential Tenancies Act, will still have to go to court. But coops will probably 'do this only rarely because the court process is slower and more expensive.
Also, unlike tenants, co op members can't use the LTB process to deal with their complaints against the co op, for example, about harassment or discrimination, or about the co op not doing repairs.
More information and the forms used in the new process are available on the LTB website.
This answer is taken from CLEO's On the Radar - May 2014.
For an in depth discussion of this issue, listen to a recorded webinar The New Process for Evictions from Non-Profit Co-operative Housing.