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Cooperative Housing Model

Cooperative Housing, or co-ops as they are commonly referred to, are different from Condominiums in that the building itself is owned and managed by a corporation. The tenants become share holders of this corporation by obtaining a lease for their apartment.


Cooperative Organization

There are a number of types of Cooperative Housing:

  • Condop

As the name signifies, a condop is a building that incorporates cooperative units but follows an operating model that resembles those found in Condominiums. Where condops differ from conventional Cooperative Housing is that the co-op owns only the units available for residential use as opposed to the entire building.

Condops are a hybrid of condominiums and cooperatives in that the suites are still collectively owned, though the bylaws put in place resemble those found in condominiums. For instance, a resident may not have to seek council approval if they wish to rent out or alter their unit. Condops are not very common with just over 300 listings in New York City. [1]

  • Corporate Organization

This is the most common form of Cooperative Housing that entails a contract between the individual owners and the corporation that owns the building. Under the most circumstances the corporation relies on the monthly rent payed by the owners to cover expenses incurred by the building such as the mortgage, property taxes and maintenance costs. Since the mortgage is under a single corporate title tenants are dependent on the financial stability of their fellow tenants.

  • Tenancy in Common

Tenants own an entire building(s) collectively. Each tenant is given exclusive rights to a particular unit, however they each still own an undivided share. Each tenant also has the legal right to dispose of his or her undivided share or a portion thereof by deed or by will. It is up to the collective to designate an individual or establish a committee to oversee maintenance and financial obligations.

  • Business Trust

The title of an entire building(s) is vested to trustees. Certificates of beneficial interest are issued to the individual tenants, and each beneficial owner is assigned an exclusive right of occupancy of a specific unit under a proprietary lease.

Personal Information


Unlike condominiums where individual owners are protected from each others financial shortcomings, cooperatives are dependent on a reliable source of income and therefore need to take extra precautions to avoid tenants faulting on their dues. It is not uncommon for a cooperative to view potential members finances before allowing them into their co-op.

Cooperative housing is often catered towards a particular lifestyle and it is also not uncommon for Cooperatives to investigate aspects of your life to ensure that you are a suitable tenant.

It is important to have read and understood the bylaws put in place by the cooperative before entering into a cooperative housing arrangement, since each co-op has different governing policies.[2]



Cooperative Housing councils have more control over who gets to live in their community. This is important for communities who desire a certain age or family demographic, or are looking for likeminded people to live with.

Cooperatives generally have lower real estate tax assessments[3]

Cooperatives are generally less expensive than condominiums as additional closing costs may be involved in the latter.

Cooperatives require greater involvement on behalf of the shareholders. Great for those looking to feel part of a community.

Cooperative Housing in New York

New York City has a vibrant cooperative housing market with a recent study by the New York Times showing that cooperatives hold a 75% share with condominiums holding the remainder 25%

The Urban Homesteading Assistance Board is an excellent resource for those searching for available Cooperative Housing [4]

A recent change in New York City Law that previously required cooperatives to earn no more than 20% of their gross income through commercial activity has been amended. Allowing cooperatives to subsidize costs by taking in more commercial tenants.

Cooperative Living Common Questions

Who lives in Cooperative Housing?

  • Depending on the co-op, communities are mixed and diverse from a variety of backgrounds that may include seniors, young families and new immigrants.

What criteria is considered for application?

  • Applicants must be able to meet the needs desired by the co-op in such terms as income, family size, skills and the ability to commit time to participate in the management of the community. Depending on the co-op being applied for, expect at the very least a review of your financial records and a possible thorough background check to determine your eligibility within the community.

Is Cooperative Housing owned by the government?

  • Cooperatives are not owned or affiliated with government agencies, though they must operate within the terms set by the operating agreement brought forth by local government agencies. Co-ops are owned by its members as shareholders.

Is Cooperative Housing a form of low income or social housing?

  • Co-op's are not a form of social housing. While most communities have mixed incomes, this will vary from co-op to co-op.

What is a share purchase?

  • A share purchase is the share you buy to become a member of a co-op. One member per unit in a co-op buys a share in the co-op as they are accepted for membership.

What is a monthly housing Charge?

  • A monthly housing charge is similar to rent. It is what members pay each month to live in the co-op.

What does "participation required" mean?

  • This requires members to commitment a set amount of time to participate in the co-op in such tasks as maintenance and by being active on the council.


  1. Wikipedia
  2. Co-op Rules and Regulations New York Times
  3. New York Times
  4. Urban Homesteading Assistance Board

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