Find information on policies, agreements, and constating documents (constitutions, bylaws, memoranda, etc.) that help non-profit housing providers meet governance requirements.
1. What kind of policies does our organization need?
Your board needs to develop policy statements to guide your organization in each area of responsibility, including resident relations, recruitment, volunteer and staff development, financial management, maintenance, ethics, conflict of interest, government relations, community and public relations, and harassment. Policies are essential because they:
- State the general course of action planned for your organization
- Create guidelines to put your mission and values into practice
- Provide a framework for making decisions
- Give your staff and committees direction on setting procedures
- Ensure continuity for residents, as board members change over time
Contact the BC Non-Profit Housing Association at 604-291-2600 or 1-800-494-8859, or by email at [email protected] to obtain a copy of their Policy Template Manual. Housing co-operatives can contact the Co-operative Housing Federation of BC at 604-879-5111 or 1-866-879-5111, or by email at [email protected]. The Co-operative Housing Federation of BC offers workshops on policy development and has a resource library with sample policies.
2. Which policies should be shared with residents?
Residents should receive copies of any rules or policies that directly affect them. For example, you should inform residents about your rules and policies for pet ownership, smoking, parking and laundry.
3. What can our board do if a director is not doing his or her job?
You should have a process in place for supporting and evaluating board members that you can follow. It should be based on the board responsibilities defined in your constitution and bylaws or rules and memorandum.
4. What are BC Housing’s constating document requirements?
BC Housing works with a variety of non-profit housing providers to deliver affordable housing and related services across British Columbia. Constating documents govern an organization’s purpose, decisions, and general business conduct; for example, the constitution and bylaws of a society or the memoranda and rules of a cooperative association. BC Housing reviews all non-profit organizations who will receive loans or other financial assistance totalling $50,000 or more to ensure they are in good standing with the applicable corporate registry and to ensure their constating documents have the following:
- A stated purpose to provide affordable housing for low (or low and moderate) income households, or another similar purpose consistent with the type of services being provided.
- A provision regarding non-remuneration of directors in any capacity; bylaws must not permit directors to serve as employees.
- A provision regarding the disposition of assets upon dissolution or wind up to an organization(s) with a similar charitable purpose.
- Items 1, 2, and 3 above must be unalterable or otherwise restricted in accordance with the applicable legislation or regulation, or require the prior written consent of BC Housing to alter.
- Rules of conduct in accordance with the provider’s purposes and applicable legislation.
Please contact your BC Housing representative if you have any questions or require further information.
5. What is meant by conflict of interest?
A conflict of interest occurs when your business, or you personally, gain as a result of your duties with the society or co-operative.
Directors or officers and the people working for your organization must avoid any situation that could result in a conflict of interest, or the appearance of a conflict of interest.
Directors and officers are not allowed to receive any compensation in the form of a salary, grant or honorarium for duties. No part of the rent, housing charge revenue or any federal or provincial funding you receive can be used to provide any benefit or payment to a director, officer or member without written approval from BC Housing. An exception is made for reasonable wages paid to employees who are also members of the organization, but who do not sit on the board.
As a director or officer, your business or personal interests are in conflict when you, or someone who is a related person, directly or indirectly receives, or may receive, a benefit that is in addition to any reimbursement for reasonable expenses you incur as a director or officer. A related person means someone with a family connection or business association with a director or officer such that:
- A transaction between the housing provider and the related person would confer a benefit on the director or officer
- The relationship might affect, or appear to affect, the director or officer’s ability to act impartially on behalf of the housing provider
As a director or officer, you would have an actual or potential conflict of interest in the following situations:
- When a person or business (for example, a contractor) performs duties or provides services to BC Housing or the housing provider in connection with a development, and you or a related person:
- Sells, leases or assists with the sale or lease of real estate or personal property to BC Housing or a housing provider
- Is the contractor
- Is a director, officer or senior manager with the contractor
- Is a shareholder of the contractor, or has the right to become a shareholder
- Is a partner with the contractor, or has the right to become a partner
- Holds or has the right to acquire, or has an interest in or the right to acquire an interest in, any stock, bond, debenture or security of, or granted by, the contractor
- Has any business, financial, personal or familial relationship with a director, officer or senior manager of the contractor
- When you or a related person engages in any personal business transaction or private arrangement for personal profit that arises from your position as a director or officer. This situation includes access to confidential information through your position with the society or co-operative.
- When you or a related person owns or has the right to acquire real estate or personal property in which BC Housing or the housing provider will acquire an interest for a development
These conditions also apply to every person or business that performs duties for a housing provider.
6. Can a resident be a board member or director of a non-profit housing society? What about housing co-operatives?
If your bylaws allow it, a resident can be a board member or director of a non-profit housing society, because non-profit operating agreements do not prevent residents from being society members. But membership cannot be a requirement for being housed in a development.
Housing co-operatives require people to become members to live in a co-operative development. Co-operatives are jointly owned and managed by members, who participate in decision-making and share responsibility for running the co-operative. Accordingly, even though residents who become board members are technically in a conflict of interest, this conflict is allowed under our guidelines.
7. Can a board director also be an employee?
No, a director cannot be an employee. This situation is considered a conflict of interest, as directors control an employee’s salary, benefits, hours of work, etc. If a housing provider wants to appoint an existing director as an employee, the director must first resign.
8. Does BC Housing have a sample tenancy agreement we can use?
Yes, you can find a sample residential tenancy agreement on our website. You may want to modify this template to include your own policies.
Co-operatives can contact the Co-operative Housing Federation of BC at 604-879-5111 or 1-866-879-5111, or by email at [email protected] for a model occupancy agreement or lease.
9. Where can I get copies of various acts such as the Residential Tenancy Act, Societies Act, Cooperative Association Act and the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act?
10. What other resources are available for boards?
Contact the organizations below to arrange training and to find out about other resources: