legal documents
From: vanilla (
Date: Tue, 2 Aug 94 09:53 CDT
Hi there.  I have been engaged in trying to learn about and make sense of 
the various legal documents and financial arrangements involved in 
getting a cohousing project from the planning stage, to reality. rob 
sandelin has been extremeley helpful, by providing a set of 4 documents 
at the face value of his copying cost.  another dear person whose name i 
don't remember sent me a bylaws document free of charge.  

another member of our group contacted The Cohousing Company and via them, 
was offered the chance to buy sets of documents from 2 different 
cohousing communities at a premium charge of something like $50 apiece. 
our group did not take up this offer.

beyond that, i am not aware of other documents being available.

The advice that has been given to me via this net, i may summarize very 
briefly and incompletely as follows.  The laws governing multi-family 
housing arrangements are different in each state.  these laws often are 
fairly recent (such as condominium laws, enacted perhaps in the 1970s or 
later; or such as, here in Georgia, the "limited liability corporation" i 
believe it's called, has only just this year come into existence; it was 
discussed at the regional cohousing meeting this summer).   Due to the 
variety and complexity of these laws, it is essential to get expert 
advice (this means: hire a lawyer) from someone with real-life, in-depth 
experience IN YOUR STATE.  getting copies of documents from other 
projects in other states is good, but cutting and pasting your favorite 
parts together is only a start, and not a way to create a sound document 
that would stand the test of courts and banks examining it in your home 

i heartily second the idea of creating a handbook covering the legal and 
financial issues in cohousing.  I must say that my cohousing group is 
encountering some big challenges in entering the stage where it must deal 
with this stuff.  It appears that the group is in danger of smashing on 
these mean rocks and becoming a shipwreck.  it would be too bad, because 
the group has sailed across a wide trackless ocean and now is in sight of 
the harbor.  we have the beautiful drawings, an option on the property, 
two banks interested in financing, 7 of 12 units reserved by escrow 
deposits (our site by a railroad makes pre-selling without the units to 
walk through particularly challenging), an 8th household on the verge of 
putting money down, and now at least 3 members talking of withdrawal 
(including myself and the other recent joiner) and work at meetings 
overtaken by sad and sometimes nasty arguing.

 Gareth Fenley
 Atlanta, Georgia

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