Co-operative Housing

About Housing Co-operatives

Housing co-operatives are a worldwide movement of self-help, mutually owned associations working to relieve housing need in their communities.

The members of housing co-operatives are the people who use the services the co-operative provides. Members have the opportunity to become involved in the management of their co-operative and to vote on issues that are important to them.

Housing co-operatives can be involved in the building, management and maintenance of houses and apartments across various forms of tenure – rental and ownership.

"Profiles of a Movement", a joint publication of Co-operative Housing International and Housing Europe, gives an excellent overview of co-operative housing around the world and can be downloaded here.

Co-operative Housing in Ireland

Co-operative housing in Ireland dates back to the 1950s. These were local, self-help, home ownership building co-operatives providing affordable homes for their members. In the 1960s and early 1970s, more co-operatives continued to be formed and, in 1973, NABCO (the former name for Co-operative Housing Ireland) was set up to represent co-operative housing nationally.

Starting in the 1980s, we have worked with local co-operative housing societies around Ireland to help develop social-rented co-operative homes. Since 1973 more than 3,500 co-operative dwellings for ownership have been developed and 2,200 rented homes continue to be managed by local co-operative societies.

A number of forms of co-operative housing are possible:

  • Social rented housing co-operatives provide housing to members who are usually recruited from Local Authority waiting lists in the areas where co-ops are located. A list of local social rented housing co-operatives is available here

  • Home-ownership co-operatives help members who have the financial capacity to do so to build or buy their own homes. Most of these co-operatives have been developed in the Dublin area. 

  • Shared ownership co-operatives help members to part-purchase their own homes while a portion of the interest in the property remains owned by the co-operative.;

  • Co-ownership co-operatives allow for members who live in apartment blocks or townhouses with shared common areas or facilities to organise the management and maintenance of those areas.

  • Mixed tenure co-operatives are usually larger housing co-operatives where it has been possible to provide a mix of rental and ownership types across the development.