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Private co-operative housing and ABF

The Danish Association of private co-operative housing (ABF) is a NGO with two main focuses: Influence on legislation covering co-operative housing and the daily service of our approximately 4.900 members throughout Denmark.  

Purpose and execution

The purpose of ABF is to promote the interests of its members at political and legislative levels and to popularize living in a co-operative residence. Additionally, ABF will offer its members a variety of activities to assist and qualify their local board members to function properly in their individual co-operatives. 

ABF was founded on democratic principles. Therefore, only members of ABF will decide which particular areas of interest the organisation will engage in. It is also the members themselves, who confirm the political intentions of ABF.  

The political goals

Concerning housing policies ABF has established a number of conditions which should characterize living in a co-operative residence, which is a type of residence 

  • with its own specific identity
  • neither owned, nor rented
  • more commonplace than today
  • constantly undergoing modernization and improvement
  • matching modern ideas concerning environmental issues and self subsistence
  • characterized by up-to-date administration and timely maintenance of buildings and inventory 

in short: A RESIDENCE FOR LIFE. Please find ABF’s basic programme.  

Values of ABF

ABF’s political work and service to members is based on the principles and goals described in a basic programme, which has been drawn up by the bi-annual National Congress. ABF is continuously estimating the effects of the programme in terms of the organisation’s interests, goals and expectations. The programme was revised and re-confirmed at the assembly of the National Congress in October 2008. 

The work of ABF

ABF is a member of different committees, such as The Building Damage Fund for Urban Renewal and The Building Damage Fund for Subsidized Building. The main aim is to influence initiatives before they are converted into action. 

Furthermore, the organisation provides services for its members throughout Denmark, often through courses, meetings, networking as well as economic and legal counselling.  

Bying and living in co-operative housing

To buy an apartment or a house (danish term: 'andelsbolig') in a co-operative means that you pay for the right to use a specific apartment/house. The payment covers your share of the wealth and debt of the co-operative. The payment is a deposit (danish term: 'andelsvaerdi') which reflects the economic situation of the co-operative.  

Influence and rules

Every co-operative has a set of statutes and house rules which regulates the way it is run. Living in a 'andelsbolig' means, that you - as a member of the co-operative (danish term: 'andelshaver') - have influence on your living surroundings and on the financial situation of co-operative housing. 

Private co-operative housing in Denmark is based on the idea that the residents together decide how things should be managed; whether maintenance or renewal projects should be initialized, the economy etc.  

Economy

In an 'andelsbolig' you pay a rent (danish term: 'boligafgift') which covers interests and repayment of the loans of the co-operative as well as current expenditures. 

Every year an auditor makes an accounting report which reflects the current economic situation of the co-operative housing. On an annual general assembly the residents set the 'boligafgift', approve the accounts and discuss large and minor topics. The co-operative is daily managed by a board consisting of residents, and the board is elected democratically on the general assembly.  

Values and community

It is the residents who determine how the life in the co-operative should be run. Therefore, common activities such as eating together, meetings, trips or having a 'green'/ecological profile all express a certain way of doing things in that particular co-operative. In other words, it is a statement of having a shared identity as 'andelshavere'. 

Essentiel for the life as an 'andelshaver' is that the resident can decide the degree of which he or she will be involved in activities. The voluntary element is an important and fundamental part of the idea behind private co-operative housing in Denmark and the work of ABF.    

The members of ABF

According to official statistics from 2012 there are about 200.000 private co-operatively owned houses or apartments in Denmark. Unfortunately, no public statistics are available concerning the number of co-operative associations. About 4.800 of the co-operative associations are members of ABF, comprising more than 94.000 homes. 

ABF has, therefore, almost half of the existing co-operative homes “under its wings”. We are proud of this achievement, and the fact that the number of memberships is growing. 

Town and countryside, young and old

The member co-operatives are very different. There are co-operatives in all the communities throughout the country, although mainly in the larger communities where the population is dense. 

The major portion of the member co-operatives are found in Copenhagen. This is because - earlier - those co-operatives used to be regular apartment buildings with apartments to rent. At some point in time, however, the tenants have decided to buy the buildings and establish a co-operative association, as became possible by law in 1976. All over the country a multitude of co-operatives have emerged throughout the eighties and nineties.

This was primarily because - from the beginning of the eighties - it was possible to obtain public subsidies to create co-operative housing projects. Such arrangements were popular. From 2004 onwards public subsidies were no longer available.

Nevertheless, the number of co-operative houses has been increased ten times during the last 10 years.