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What is a housing cooperative?

A Housing Cooperative is a group of people who come together on a democratic basis with a common goal of pooling together limited resources to build and own houses. A Housing Cooperative is formed on a non- profit basis.

Housing co-operatives are a type of service co-operative in which the members are the residents and thereby the consumers of the service, in this case housing, provided by the co-operative. As with other co-operatives, the organization is owned and controlled by the members and follows, to various degrees, the International Co-operative Principles

What do you actually own as a housing cooperative member?

The main distinction between a housing co-op and other forms of home-ownership is that in a housing co-op you don’t directly own real estate. You are buying shares or a membership in a housing cooperative. As part of your membership (being a shareholder) in the cooperative you have an exclusive right to live in a specific unit as long as you don’t break any of the rules or regulations of the cooperative. As part of your membership, you also have a vote in the affairs of the cooperative.

Every member of the co-operative purchases a share (or the minimum number of shares is fixed by the members) and signs an occupancy agreement (also referred to as a proprietary lease) which gives them the legal and exclusive right to occupy a dwelling unit according to the agreement laid out by the co-operative.  Each member has one vote.

Co-operative ownership is quite distinct from condominiums where people own individual units and have little say on who moves into the other units

Won’t I be discriminated against in a cooperative?

Like any other form of housing, cooperatives may not discriminate based on race, color, religion, sex, family status, national origin, or disability. Historically, the basic cooperative principles include both open membership without restriction as provided by law and non-partisan in politics and non-sectarian in religion. However, many co-ops are selective in approving memberships. As communities of people who share a financial obligation and responsibility for governing how they want to live together, it is important for co-ops to ensure that incoming members can meet their financial obligation and will abide by the rules of the community.

What are the requirements to form a Housing Cooperative?

  • Buy four (4) copies of Cooperative Bye Laws. The Cost is 10,000= for Multipurpose bye-Laws (this is the one for other societies other than savings and credit e.g. housing, health, marketing, fishing etc)
  • Minimum Statutory number of Members is 30. However, the more members the better for economic Viability
  • Read through and fill the Bye Laws
  • Get a Recommendation letter from the District Commercial Officer of your district of operation
  • Compile financial statements of your cooperative. They should reflect; Entrance Fees, Shares fully paid and bought by all registered members and other expenses that may have been
  • Attach Schedules of Entrance Fees Payments, Share Capital and Savings.
  • Registration fee is Ugx. 50,000/ = only at the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Cooperatives; a receipt is obtained.
  • Include contacts and addresses of the interim executive.

How does a housing cooperative determine the value of shares?

The nominal value of a share is determined by members in a meeting and for a cooperative to be registered at least 30 members must have already paid the minimum stipulated number of shares.

What about entrance fees?

This is also determined by members meeting.  Every member must pay this fee on top of shares.  This is paid once.

Can my children join the Housing cooperative as members?

In housing co-operatives, anybody 12year+ can join although they are limited in terms of voting until the age of 18 years.