Housing cooperatives

Housing cooperative has been defined as a legally incorporated group of persons, generally of limited means, pursuing the same cause of meeting the common need of housing or its improvement based on mutual assistance.

In such a cooperative, the membership is voluntary and control is democratic, and members make an approximately equal contribution to the capital required. It has a strong emphasis on self-help and cooperative actions are the basic characteristics of housing cooperatives.

The activities of housing cooperatives in various States are regulated through respective Cooperative Societies Act and Cooperative Societies Rules administered by the Registrar of Cooperative Societies appointed by the Government. The national level cooperative organisations and the multi-state cooperative societies are governed by the provisions of Multi-State Cooperative Societies Act and Rules.

A society is essentially an association of seven or more people registered under the Societies Registration Act, 1860 – which is an all India Act (however, many States, have variants on the Act) and which has as a stated purpose some charitable or benevolent purpose either in regards to the public at-large or in regards to the common interest of the members and which operates as nearly as possible at cost.

A registered society is a legal entity with certain limitations. However, members of a cooperative society get together to promote the economic interest of their members.

The Advantages attached to cooperative housing are as follows –

• A housing cooperative is neither a public nor a profit seeking organisation. Its principal objective is to eliminate economic exploitation as it is controlled by members only.
• Contrary to public housing, cooperative housing provides opportunities to its members to control the house designs at the planning stages. Moreover, the maintenance of the estate is also in the hands of members, which leads to maintenance at lesser expenses and in a better way.
• Cooperative housing satisfies quantitative as well as qualitative aspects of housing. As it incorporates a high degree of participatory involvement of members, the housing stock created is more responsive to user’s needs than those supplied through any other sub-system.
• Housing cooperatives, besides, generating a sense of responsibility amongst users for post-occupancy maintenance, also provide the necessary mechanism for affecting it.
• Project cost efficiency is demonstrated on account of the concerted efforts of members to keep overheads to a minimum and to effect economy in construction by other means as well.
• Loans are arranged by the cooperatives for their members and the members have a collective responsibility for its repayment. So, a proper check on the repayment of loans and other charges is maintained.
• The members have got the right to vote and participate in the affairs of the cooperative, and as such they develop a sense of self-reliance and self-respect.
• A cooperative is a small community by itself and hence can undertake several social activities such as organising special programmes, arranging health services, improving the ecology of its area, improvement in social behaviour and mental health, etc.
• Other economic activities such as consumer cooperatives, banks, clubs and other common services which are needed by the community can be established by a housing cooperative in an economical manner.

An individual can become a member of a housing cooperative provided he/she fulfils the conditions as stipulated in the Act, the Rules framed by the concerned State and the Bye-laws of the cooperative.

Practice question:

1. Which of the following is the apex organization of cooperative housing movement in the country?

a) National Cooperative Housing Federation of India (NCHF)

b) Ministry of rural development

c) Ministry of Labour & Employment

d) Ministry of corporate affairs

Ans: a
Exp: National Cooperative Housing Federation of India is the apex organization of cooperative housing movement in the country.

NCHF Objectives:

• To provide a common forum for dealing with technical, financial and practical problems relating to housing cooperatives and devise ways and means of solving them.
• To carry on publicity and promotion of Cooperative Housing Movement and for that purpose to arrange for publication of periodicals, news bulletins and journals, exchange statistics and information relating to cooperative housing.
• To coordinate and guide the working of housing cooperatives in respect of planning, construction, etc. of houses and make available expert advice/services for the purpose.
• To promote apex cooperative housing federations in those States where such organisations do not exist.
• To organise cooperative education, training and information programmes for its members, directors, employees and personnel of housing cooperatives.
• To organise conferences, conventions, seminars, working groups as well as research work relating to cooperative housing and allied matters.