Co-operative housing in Norway

Primary and secondary co-operatives
As opposed to co-operatives found in other sectors, primary housing co-operatives in Norway are most often established by secondary housing co-operatives called co-operative housing associations. Housing co-operatives established by co-operative housing associations are referred to as housing co-operatives.

Due to the primary co-operative by-law requirements of shareholder membership in both primary and secondary co- operatives, secondary co-operative members have the right of pre-emption in the second-hand transfers of primary cooperative shares. In most cases the secondary co-operatives serve as business managers for the primary co-operatives they have established. Strong bonds are maintained between the primary and secondary co-operatives. These bonds were originally aimed at ensuring that the association would not fold once the founding members were housed. The model must be viewed in light of the co-operative housing movement and its history in Norway.

Today the housing co-operatives have the right to choose their business manager in a free market situation. Co-operative housing associations are also involved in developing and managing a form of ownership that is slightly different from co-operatives, such as condominiums.

Co-operative housing associations (secondary co-operatives)
Individuals become members of a co-operative housing association which in turn is a member of NBBL. The objective of the co-operative housing associations is to provide its individual members with housing and housing-related services. Co-operative housing associations primarily serve their members by acting as property developers and housing managers.

Housing co-operatives (primary co-operatives)
The objective of the housing co-operative is to provide its shareholders with an exclusive right of use to a housing unit in a property owned and controlled by the co-operative.

Shareholders acquire a share in a co-operative that owns or controls the building(s) and property in which they live. Each shareholder is entitled – and required – to occupy a specific unit. Each shareholder holds one vote in the co-operative’s annual general assembly where a board of directors is elected, usually composed of shareholders.

The board is responsible for the management of the co-operative, normally assisted by a co-operative housing association acting as business manager. Shareholders are required to contribute an amount that covers their proportionate share of the expenses of operating the entire co- operative. Shareholders leave the co-operative by transferring their share to incoming shareholders. Shares are transferred on the open market at their full market value.

Regulated by separate legal acts
Co-operative housing associations and housing co-operatives are governed by Norwegian law. The Co-operative Housing Associations Act and the Housing Co-operatives Act date from 1960 and have undergone a major legislative revision resulting in two new acts in 2005.