A co-operative is a democratic organisation, owned and controlled by its members for a common benefit. Co-operatives are traditionally based on values of self-help, self-responsibility, equality and solidarity. Co-operatives are a movement extending across the globe, encompassing all sectors of the economy.
Co-op housing is when a group of people work together to manage their own housing. Housing co-ops are run entirely by their own members, who are all volunteers.
Each member is a 'landlord tenant' where they are responsible for managing the co-ops finances, arranging property maintenance, tenancy and administration.
Being a member of a co-operative requires you to contribute, be involved and learn new skills.
To apply for co-operative housing there are three steps to start the process.
- Read through and follow the steps on How do I apply form on the website and use the link to submit an application to the Victorian Housing Register (VHR) using myGov
- In your application make sure you select Co-op Housing or Community Housing in the application when prompted.
- Attend a Co-op Housing Information session.
When applicant numbers a low and/or co-ops have a vacancy, CEHL will select people from the VHR that have ticked Co-op Housing or Community Housing. CEHL will contact you directly when an information session becomes available in your area.
You will only be contacted when there is an available session in your area. At this time we are targeting sessions to areas based on need due to available and upcoming vacancies.
The CEHL Co-operative Housing Program referral process does not operate as a waiting list. We have limited vacancies due to offering program participants long term secure housing.
When a property does become available, the co-op contacts CEHL for a list of persons eligible for the property and who have selected that region as a preference.
Eligible Applicants will be listed and the details provided to the co-op. It is the co-op who manage the tenant selection process, by contacting those on the list and conducting interviews.
Unfortunately there is no guarantee that you will be interviewed or housed.
We can post out a transfer form to our housed members.
Members need to fill this form out and return it to us via mail. Once received, we will add the details of your request to our database.
Members housed in the program for two years or more will be eligible to be listed with priority on the referral list.
Members housed less than two years can transfer but will not be listed with priority on the referral list. If there is a compelling reason that you need to be considered for a transfer, you can email CEHL and the relevant team will review your request and advise whether or not you are entitled to priority treatment.
People - Applicants
The Information Sessions offered to people interested in Co-op housing describe different types of co-ops and the challenges they face. Wherever possible local co-op members are asked to share their experiences.
People - Household members
- Partners of a member are not required to participate in the co-op or program unless they hold a joint membership of the co-op.
- Each co-ops adopt their own rules regarding joint memberships. Refer to your Co-op rules to find out what might apply to you.
- Other household members can offer help to a co-op where needed, but cannot vote or complete active membership requirements unless they are a joint member.
- Partners and other household members may be included in social events held by coops or CEHL
- Partners and other household members may be included in CEHL consultations about their experience of housing in our program, but cannot represent a co-op or act on behalf of a co-op member.
People - Participation
1. Co-ops developing Future Directions Plans should consider what level of participation they need from their members in order to meet their responsibilities and goals, and assess whether this can be achieved within their current membership or in the future.
2. Where a co-op believes it may be unable to build sufficient participation, now or in the future, the co-op should consider how this can be addressed; eg:
a. Removing barriers to participation such as changing meeting schedules, using new technology, exploring new ways of spreading the workload, offering practical assistance such as transport or babysitting assistance.
b. Finding external services that can meet some of the workload such as bookkeeping or rent arrears management services, after hours maintenance call centres, etc.
c. Exploring other co-op models such as a CMC where the landlord responsibilities are retained by CEHL, meetings may be less frequent and office bearer roles are less onerous.
d. Adopting a member selection criteria that prioritises capacity to participate (long term) when recruiting new members
3. All members should be involved in discussing the participation options available and vote to decide the appropriate participation requirements for their co-operative.
1. All Co-op members and Co-ops are required to act in accordance with their co-op rules until the Participation Policy has been developed.
2. Where a member is unable to fulfil their participation requirements, the co-op and member should both make every effort to find an agreed solution.
3. Co-ops experiencing disputes about member participation during this period are strongly encouraged to defer decisions about cancellation of membership until after the program Participation Policy has been finalised and approved.
4. This is consistent with Section 159 (1) (b) of the Co-operatives National Law Application Act, which provides that the co-op may pass a resolution to defer the cancellation for up to one year if a resolution is likely to be put to the members of the co-op in to review the co-op's participation requirements
5. If a co-op proceeds to cancel membership before the Participation Policy is finalised, current program policy will prevent the Co-op from issuing a Notice to Vacate and CEHL may act to assume management of the property and tenancy.
6. All Co-op members and Co-ops are required to act in accordance with their co-op rules until the Participation Policy has been developed.
7. Where a member is unable to fulfil their participation requirements, the co-op and member should both make every effort to find an agreed solution.
8. Co-ops experiencing disputes about member participation during this period are strongly encouraged to defer decisions about cancellation of membership until after the program Participation Policy has been finalised and approved.
9. This is consistent with Section 159 (1) (b) of the Co-operatives National Law Application Act, which provides that the co-op may pass a resolution to defer the cancellation for up to one year if a resolution is likely to be put to the members of the co-op in to review the co-op’s participation requirements
10. If a co-op proceeds to cancel membership before the Participation Policy is finalised, current program policy will prevent the Co-op from issuing a Notice to Vacate and CEHL may act to assume management of the property and tenancy.
In 2017 CEHL undertook a consultation process, where all co-ops were encouraged to put forward their points of view to help develop a Participation Policy. The aims of the policy were to:
a. set appropriate expectations for participation in co-operatives that are part of our Program,
b. consider how members with limited ability to participate can be accommodated within co-ops and/or within our Program
c. determine what consequences should apply if a co-op member is unable or unwilling to participate as required
The policy was called Co-ops Developing Active Membership Requirements Program Policy
Given the significance of Program Policy to decision-making within the Program, it is vital that the views and opinions of co-ops are reflected in its development. As part of the quarterly consultation cycle, co-ops are given six weeks to consider and provide feedback on the draft policies via the online survey. PAC determined that this timeframe struck a reasonable balance between providing co-ops with sufficient time to review and make comment on the draft policies and recognising that there are a number of policies that need to be revised and developed. The survey also allows co-ops to identify if they require further support to implement a particular policy, as well as suggest policy topics for future development.
The previous "PAC Policy" often contained a mix of policy and procedure and was developed as a guide which co-ops could choose to adopt. Program Policy now sets the rules of the Program and is, therefore, mandatory. Guidance on how to practically implement Program Policy is now contained in procedures and best practice advice, which co-ops are free to adopt or else develop their own.
Program Policy provides co-ops with a Board-endorsed framework that guides their decision-making, reflecting feedback received from co-ops, the Program Principles and any regulatory requirements. Each co-op is able to determine how they will implement Program Policy, as long as this sits within the parameters set by the policy. PAC will develop procedures and best practice advice which co-ops may wish to use or adapt.
Program Policy is developed in a range of ways. Where there is an existing Program position (by way of a current directive, procedure or practice) that needs to be reviewed, clarified or formalised, Program Policy will be developed via the quarterly consultation cycle. This process gives co-ops six weeks to consider and provide feedback on the draft policies, after which PAC reviews the feedback, determines what amendments to the draft policies are required and makes recommendations for approval to the Board. Where PAC has chosen not to incorporate specific feedback, both the feedback and PAC rationale for not incorporating it are reported to the Board. For deeper policy topics, a standalone consultation process will be used. This will often involve the establishment of an advisory group and the running of workshops with co-ops and members. If feedback on a particular draft policy developed through the quarterly consultation cycle indicates strong and diverse opinion amongst co-ops, PAC is able to recommend that a standalone engagement process to support its development be undertaken. Equally, the Board may determine that, based on the feedback received, further development and consultation with co-ops is required before a policy can be approved.
Program Policy sets the rules that all co-ops must abide by as members of the CEHL Housing Program. It provides a framework for decision-making within the Program, with a clear rationale and policy context. Program Policy consolidates, updates and replaces what was previously contained in the Program Directives and other Program documents, and also reflects the regulatory environment in which the Program operates. Program Policy is approved by the Board, based on the recommendation of the Policy Advisory Committee (PAC), which is chaired by a member of the Board and comprises eight co-op members who have been nominated to represent their region.
Program Policy applies to all members of the CEHL Housing Program and all residential tenancies managed by CEHL or its member co-ops
Together with the Program Principles, Program Policy provides the framework for decision-making within the Program. It ensures that there is a clear and consistent basis for decision-making across all member co-ops.
The CEHL Board identified issues that significantly affect the CEHL Housing Program that need to be addressed to ensure the Program continues to provide affordable housing.
The Rent Model Advisory Group RMAG were appointed by the CEHL Board to consult with the people in the CEHL Housing Program and to recommend a revised rent model that aligns with the Program Principles and addresses the issues the board identified.
For more details go to Have your say Rent Model Review page.
Maintenance - ELECTRICAL ISSUES
At your power box, put all switches in the off positon, including the mains power. Wait 10 minutes then switch all to the on position. The Residual Currency Device (RCD) is an electrical safety device designed to switch power off immediately. By switching each of these off, the device should reset.
WERE YOU ABLE TO REST THE RESIDUAL CURRENCY DEVICE (RCD)?
NO The RCD may be faulty and need replacing. Contact your Maintenance Director (CERC) or CEHL (CMC / Direct Managed) to arrange a contractor to attend.
YES Continue the isolation test following the instructions below. After 10 minutes, turn the mains power back on and turn on each RCD switch one by one.
Inside your property, plug in each appliance and switch power points on one at a time. If the power does not trip, turn off the power point, unplug the appliance and move on to the next appliance. Continue this process until all appliances are checked.
Once you have checked all power points and all appliances, plug your appliances back in. If the power trips out again after performing an isolation test, it is likely your circuit board has been overloaded or there may be a faulty appliance. Solve this by turning off one or more appliances until the power can be reset, then move one or more appliances to a separate circuit or turn them off when not in use.
Check to see if the light circuit breakers in the power box have tripped. You can reset them by turning them off and on again. If any light bulbs are blown, replace them. If they still don’t work, contact your Maintenance Director (CERC) or CEHL (CMC / Direct Managed) to arrange a contractor to attend.
*It is your responsibility as a tenant to replace all globes and fluoro starters, including down lights, IXL heat lamps, range hood, fluorescent tubes and oven lights.
Are you running your unit at the correct temperature? The correct temperature is 22-23 degrees. If the air conditioner is set to a lower temperature the compressor will run continuously and cause the indoor coil to ice up and leak. Please ensure the drain pipe is not blocked. Check that the filters are clean. Check the power box to ensure the Residual Current Device (RCD - a safety device) has not tripped. Have you replaced the batteries in the remote control?
Refer to the manual and troubleshooting guides, these can be viewed from the manufacturer’s website. If it still doesn’t work, contact your Maintenance Director (CERC) or CEHL (CMC / Direct Managed) to arrange a contractor to attend.
Check the power box outside to ensure the Residual Current Device (RCD – a safety device) has not tripped. Check the child safety switch and ensure it is turned on. Some power points are located within a cupboard and the lead may have come out of the wall. Look for a power point with an extra switch and ensure that it in the ON position. Refer to the manual and troubleshooting guides, these can be viewed from the manufacturer’s website. If it still doesn’t work, contact your Maintenance Director (CERC) or CEHL (CMC / Direct Managed) to arrange a contractor to attend.
Call your energy provider to check if there is a power outage in your area. If there is not an outage in your area, check your meter box to determine if the circuit breaker has tripped. If your circuit breaker has tripped, you may need to perform an isolation test.
Maintenance - GAS ISSUES
If you smell gas outside or near the gas meter, this is almost certainly not a problem. Pressure increases in the gas lines are naturally vented by the regulator on your gas meter, and this will disperse quickly. Just give it 30 minutes and then check. If there is still gas leaking then please call your gas supplier as the regulator may be faulty. The meter and regulator are the property of the gas supplier, so you need to contact them directly.
Check your gas is turned on at the meter. Ensure the elements are clean. If you are concerned about a gas leak, turn off the gas valve underneath the cook top or at the meter and contact your Maintenance Director (CERC) or CEHL (CMC / Direct Managed) to arrange a contractor to attend. Gas Hot Water Service- see Plumbing and Hot Water Service Issues above
Maintenance - PLUMBING AND HOT WATER SERVICE ISSUES
If it is safe to do so, turn the water off at the mains. Then contact your Maintenance Director (CERC) or CEHL (CMC / Direct Managed) to arrange a contractor to attend.
If you have just moved to the property, ensure the gas has been connected. The pilot light may have gone out. Instructions outlining how to reignite the pilot light are found on the back of the small cover plate at the base of the unit. If you have checked these issues and allowed time for water to heat up, but are still having problems, contact your Maintenance Director (CERC) or CEHL (CMC / Direct Managed) to arrange a contractor to attend.
Water supply failure can occur for several reasons. Check if the water has been turned off at the mains. If the water main is turned on, check with your local water provider to ensure there is no water outage in the area. If the main is turned on and there is no known outage in the area, contact your Maintenance Director (CERC) or CEHL (CMC / Direct Managed) to arrange a contractor to attend.
This type of hot water system (HWS) draws heat from the surrounding air in order to heat water. If this system is not working, contact your Maintenance Director (CERC) or CEHL (CMC / Direct Managed) to arrange a contractor to attend.
Maintenance - OTHER ISSUES
It is your responsibility to change the batteries in the remote.
As with any utility, (power, gas, or phone/internet) the occupant/tenant has the business relationship with the provider. When a problem arises the occupant must make reasonable efforts to contact their provider. Whenever you experience difficulties with your phone or internet, it is essential that you first contact your provider and inform them of the issue. The provider will conduct tests on your line and report what needs to be done.