It is hard to argue that housing is not a fundamental human need. Housing is essential for human existence and it’s beyond mere shelter but includes facilities like water supply and electricity in the house, conditions of occupancy and the entire neighbourhood.
The term “housing cooperative” is the legal term for a housing unit that is owned and controlled jointly by a group of individuals who have equal shares, membership, and/or occupancy rights to the housing. It is an alternate form of ownership of homes and property, in which the property is owned by an organization and then sold as shares to the residents of the community. The corporation is membership-based, with membership granted by way of a share purchase in the cooperative. Each shareholder in the legal entity is granted the right to occupy one housing unit.
In Nigeria, housing cooperatives can be seen in government’s parastatals like Nigeria telecommunication limited, educational institutions and some private organisations which enables members of the organization to collectively pool their resources together and provide their housing needs that they probably cannot afford on their own.
The concept of cooperative associations for the purpose of housing is a government approved arrangement, in other words, the individual members’ have no legal status under the law, they only have that legal status if they agree as a group and the logic is about democratising the access to achieving capital investment, where one person incremental ability is limited by how much the cooperative makes. Housing cooperative works well in entry homes which is also known as mass housing. Mass Housing according to global dictionary is defined as the dense and repetitive housing solutions that has emerged as a complement of urban regeneration projects to cover the acute shortage of housing especially in the big cities.
The system of owning a house through a housing cooperative society in Nigeria has its own fringe benefits and advantages on a good day, but it also has its disadvantages. One of the assured way to owning a home in Nigeria is to go the cooperative society way, despite having been around for a long time, people are still sceptical about it because they are not aware of the benefits inherent in this system.
ADVANTAGES OF HOUSING COOPERATIVE IN NIGERIA
In an age where community involvement and partnerships with civil society are increasingly being recognized as indispensable, there is clearly a growing potential for cooperative development and renewal worldwide. The ultimate objective of housing cooperative is to help members buy land, own a house or an apartment, invest profitably in real estate opportunities. A primary advantage of a cooperative society in Nigeria is the pooling of the members’ resources so that their buying power is leveraged, thus lowering the cost per member in all the services and products associated with owning a home.
Each shareholder (member) in the entity is granted the right to enjoy dividends from joint investments, have access to affordable landed properties and apply for loans for their building projects among other benefits.
Unlike tenants in commercial apartments, which can refuse to renew a lease or drastically raise rent between lease terms, a member of a housing cooperative has rights similar to those of an owner. These rights allow cooperative members to live in the building as long as they meet their financial obligations to the cooperative and follow its bylaws. Housing cooperatives are operated democratically, with a board elected by members, which provides cooperative residents more input in the operation of their building than they might have in commercially operated buildings.
Cooperative housing typically shares the costs of upkeep, maintenance and shared amenities across all of its membership, which requires a form of self-governance to manage the costs of the community and make decisions regarding future expenses. Cooperatives also set rules for their members in terms of maintaining their own properties.
Investments are secured. Because it is jointly owned, there is an elected board of directors that must approve each potential member. This is an essential part of the cooperative’s governing, for the benefit of the people who are already members and share ownership. The approval procedure requires close scrutiny of every applicant. Cooperatives want to be sure that the people who come to join as shareholders are responsible people that can meet up with their financial obligations and would not default on debts.
DISADVANTAGES OF HOUSING COOPERATIVE
One of the disadvantages of housing cooperative is the uniformity of the housing structure and also if one of the member fails to meet any of his obligations, whether it is the cooperative maintenance, taxes, loan repayment or contributions, the other co-owners are also affected. However, since a strict check & balance method is being employed, this occurrences rarely happen.
The issue of sustainability of people’s incomes have become deteriorated by this present pandemic where people are in and out of jobs and this doesn’t help the cooperative housing system.
HOW HOUSING COOPERATIVE CAN BE EFFICIENT IN NIGERIA
First of all, for housing cooperative to be efficient, it needs full involvement and readiness of members to support the housing projects’ uptake, contributions, payback loans and every other process involved in the project. Nonchalant members will hinder the progress of the project.
Cooperative societies are very beneficial for economic development and poverty alleviation, government needs to support and encourage registered cooperatives dedicated to housing provision, by providing start-up funding and financing through mortgages.
The imperfection in the housing cooperative system needs to be considered for it to flourish. The fundamental part about the survival of the cooperative is how professionally the operations are run to achieve the objectives distinct from the political makeup of the association. There’s need for professionals like developers, architects and estate surveyors and valuers like KingsCourt Realtors to be involved in the planning, execution and sustainability of the housing project for it to be effective.
For more in depth understanding of how the housing cooperative works, contact Emeka on 08033008013 or firstname.lastname@example.org