|Re: Room rental in cohousing||<– Date –> <– Thread –>|
|From: Stuart Staniford-Chen (staniforcs.ucdavis.edu)|
|Date: Fri, 26 Apr 1996 13:11:55 -0500|
Don Maddox wrote: > > I would be interested in hearing from others in cohousing who have > rented rooms in their community homes. Some of the questions I have > are: I'm going to answer this (even though I must be approaching my quota for cohousing-l messages this week) since I delude myself that I know something about it. I have shared with several housemates for the last five years, made quite a few mistakes and had some bad experiences, but also had a lot of happiness and growth from it. In the following "we" means "my household". > > 1. Is there a ready market in your area for cohousing renters. Have > you found it easy or difficult to rent rooms? I hope it's not > relatively as hard to find renters in cohousing as it is to find > buyers? > Davis is a liberal university town. At the right time of year, there will be no difficulty at all in finding housemates. At the wrong time of year, it can be a bit sticky, but we've always found someone in the end. On the whole, our experience has more often been one of agonizing over who is the best of several promising people, rather than desperately searching for anyone acceptable. > 2. What is your process for finding renters? Do you advertise to the > general public or do you rely primarily on contacts within your > cohousing network? Sometimes we hear about people through informal networks, and sometimes we advertise. We used to put ads up in a number of places. Our experience has been that the bulk of enquiries were generated by the ad at the local food co-op. In our ad, we put a considerable amount of detail about what kind of household we are and about the fact that it is in a cohousing community. Our experience has been that that results in relatively few enquiries, but almost all the enquiries seem like pretty promising people. This saves time talking with unlikely candidates. We talk with folk on the phone, usually just discussing the basics about rent, dates of availability, etc. If that seems to work out ok, then we meet with the candidate in person. Usually we take several hours over this. We have a long written list of topics we discuss with the person (drugs, alcohol, noise, tidyness, extrovert/introvert, people staying over, ways of handling conflict, TV, radio, etc, etc). The point is not to make judgements about anyone, but just for us to determine with the candidate if we are compatible enough to enjoy living together. This may seem like a lot of trouble. However, housemates can really enhance your life or make it miserable. It's worth investing some time up front to try and figure out which camp this candidate is likely to fall into. I always get references and follow up on them. I don't try and find out details about the candidate's lifestyle or personality this way. I just use it as a backup to avoid making a really major mistake, like choosing somebody who turns out to have a serious addiction, or to be financially irresponsible. > > 3. What kind of selection process do you use to qualify renters? Do > you require consensus of all households in the community? No. The decision is made by the household in question. I would > think that the selection process would have to be less stringent for > renters than for full members. > My understanding is that most cohousing communities do not have control over resale of houses. So the community at large does not have too much control either way. > I have questions on the authority given to renters in consensus decision > making but there are several articles in cohousing-l archives with > this subject. > My opinion on this is that if you deny the ability to block consensus in all matters to renting housemates, they are going to feel like second-class citizens (this is already a natural tendency since they have less economic power - they can be kicked out of the community which cannot happen to an owner). If they have the sense that they do not share equally in the power, they are less likely to contribute time and energy to the community. N St accords an equal role in decision-making to all members, regardless of whether they rent or own. We do not have a pattern of less involvement by renters - some are marginally involved and some are very involved. The same is true of owners. I could see a reasonable case being made for limiting certain kinds of issues which primarily affect the interests of homeowners to them (eg, major capital decisions - "should we replace all the roofs this year?"). But if homeowners have more power in how community dinner is organized, then renters are less likely to want to cook and eat (IMO). > Thanks in advance for any information you can give me on the above or > any other topic concerning renters in cohousing that you feel would be > helpful to me in the formative stage I am in. > The lessons I have learned are: 1) Put a lot of thought and energy into choosing housemates at the outset. You want responsible people with values, personality, and lifestyle reasonably compatible with yours. 2) Once you have housemates, treat them as equals in your house. Don't use your power as the owner of the house to settle disputes on matters that have nothing to do with the fabric of the house. Instead negotiate a solution that works for everyone. Don't make changes in the way the household works on the assumption that decisions are yours alone. That breeds resentment and conflict. Even with decisions that relate much more to the house as a piece of real property, and that *are* yours alone (such as the roof), keep your housemates informed and consult with them about how it may affect them. Don't assume that they aren't bothered by a decision because they haven't complained. Some people are shy, so ask. The rent is a sensitive issue - if you are going to raise it, have a good reason and discuss it carefully with your housemates as far in advance as possible. 3) Pay attention to the quality of the housemate relationship - it takes some energy and time (on both sides) to make it work. If there are conflicts, work through them rather than letting them fester. If you don't spend any time having fun with housemates, plan some activities that will be fun. Eat together regularly. The relationship should be a source of much more pleasure than pain. If it isn't, ask yourself and your housemates what could be changed to make it so. 4) Be prepared for housemates to move on. You may get a housemate who will be around for a long time, but most will leave after a couple of years because of a change in job, school, relationships etc. Enjoy them while they stay and be willing to let them go when it is time for them to do something else. Life is change, and it is better that way. Stuart. ---------------------------------------------------------------------- Stuart Staniford-Chen | N St Cohousing, Davis, CA stanifor [at] cohousing.org | Cohousing Network Webweaver
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