How Housing Cooperatives work

The Housing Cooperatives Germany are an alliance of 426 companies, bringing together 860,000 flats.
(The German housing association has 2,000 cooperatives with 1,9 Million flats.)

The cooperative principle

Cooperative living is something between renting and owning: Instead of rent, the cooperative member pays a moderate fee for using the flat, which – as the property of the cooperative – belongs to all shareholders including the resident member himself.
This model of joint ownership makes living affordable, keeps costs down, and serves first and foremost the interests of the people who live in the building.
For becoming a member, shares have to be acquired. The amount varies from one cooperative to another and is reimbursed to the member when leaving the cooperative.

Cooperatives are democratic organizations controlled by their members, so participation in decision-making is important. Each member has one vote. At regular intervals, the members elect representatives from among their ranks who constructively accompany the development of the cooperative. 

The cooperative principle, which was developed more than 120 years ago, is based on the ideas of self-help, self-responsibility and self-administration.

Why housing cooperatives are successful

  • Cooperatives cannot be sold. The flats are therefore safe. Members have a lifelong right of residence.
  • Cooperatives do not have to serve the interests of outside shareholders and can therefore invest continuously in their buildings.
  • New-build cooperatives are particularly successful because they consider living requirements and preferences in advance.
  • Living-space adaptations, e.g. for families and older people, are possible in all cooperatives. The scope depends on size and housing stock.

Social requirements for positive and safe living in cooperatives

Cooperatives also have a social duty towards their members. As well as keeping their buildings in good shape, they take care to ensure a positive living climate. Most cooperative buildings offer meeting points for members, common rooms, guest dwellings and leisure activities.  In the event of financial problems, e.g. unemployment, members receive support from the cooperative’s own social workers or specialised service providers. Cooperation takes place with neighbouring homes, sports clubs and service providers – from shoppers, to mobile hairdressers, to carers.

All of these elements are intended to enable pleasant living into old age. They help reduce anonymity in residential buildings and promote a positive and safe living environment.

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Savings institutions

48 housing cooperatives own savings institutions. They work successful and are financially sound.
The members put their savings in their savings institution for middle- and long-term investment with an interest rate a little higher than a commercial bank.
In this way working capital for the housing cooperative is provided which can be used for building modernization and maintenance.