You can never get back the money you lose when a unit stands empty. Whenever a member gives notice, it’s important to get the word out, which is usually the responsibility of the manager. As soon as a prospect gets in touch, your co-op needs to follow up promptly. Otherwise, they will go elsewhere.
There are several different ways to proceed with choosing members, depending on the vacancy rate in your local market and how favourable your co-op’s charges are. Some co‑ops like to hold an information meeting from time to time to make sure households understand what a co-op is before they apply. If vacant rental units are scarce in your market or your charges are particularly attractive, this makes sense. Other co-ops go straight to a tour of the unit and an interview by volunteers when interest is expressed.
If local vacancy rates are high and your charges aren’t a bargain, consider authorizing staff to conduct a credit and landlord checks and speak briefly to the applicant before offering the unit and signing an occupancy agreement. The Board of Directors can approve the new occupant’s membership at its next meeting.
Whatever your approach, never forget to do a credit check and a landlord check. It takes only a few minutes.
If vacancies are a stubborn problem in your co-op, be sure that units are properly cleaned and redecorated before you show them. Consider offering an incentive to attract a new household, such as one month’s free housing charge. If you do this, spread the incentive over 12 months. After the year is out, the new member should pay the same rate as everyone else.
No one is a member until approved by the board of directors. The board cannot refuse an applicant for a reason listed in your provincial Human Rights Code. However, an applicant can be rejected for other reasons, provided the co-op’s own policies are respected.
Vacancy loss is not always a bad thing. It’s necessary if a unit has been occupied by the same people for some time. Your co-op will likely need at least a week to refresh the unit by painting, making any repairs and, if necessary, replacing flooring.