Re: Renters
From: Joani Blank (jeblankic.org)
Date: Sat, 7 Feb 1998 03:25:20 -0600
Most cohousing being created in the U.S.today is new construction or
retrofit requiring so much renovation that it is almost as expensive as new
construction. [In the S.F. Bay area renovation usually costs more than new
construction in part because of the substantial cost of making older
buildings earthquake-damage resistant.] .  And Denise is quite right in
thinking that no one is likely to want to pay these market rate or higher
prices AND "participate" in all the anguish just to be a landlord. (Of
course if such a household joins the group really late, say during
construction, the bulk of the hard work has been done by others already.)

However, I can certainly see households buying a unit in a coho community
with an in-law unit attached which they can rent, or a single person buying
a unit with the intention of having one or more housemates (who would be
renters). Then there are people who may wish to invest in a unit which. for
whatever reason, they can't live in right now, so they buy in with the
intention of renting to another household for several years before they are
ready to move in.  Then there are those who go away for several months or
maybe even a couple of years, say to go into the Peace Corps, and rent
their units while they are gone. 

At Doyle Street, policies for renters are written into our CC and Rs, and
we recently expanded them to deal with owners who share their units with
one or more renters/housemates. In addition, we have all signed
participation agreements, in which we commit not to rent or sell our units
to anyone who will not agree to be a participating member of the community,
this means cooking common meals, being on committees, and attending
meetings, although decisions relating to assessments and budget are
reserved to homeowners. 

As to someone's concerns that renters will not be as respectful of the
property or as concerned about it, I think there is enough experience in
cohousing to strongly suggest that  when in Rome, most people do as the
Romans, and when renters and owners all know one another quite well, as we
typically do in cohousing, there is a sense of belonging and "ownership" of
the community life, that is shared to some extent by everyone who lives
there. Whether someone owns or rents his/her home seems unrelated to how
engaged that person is in the life of the community.  Perhaps this "good"
state of affairs would deteriorate if too high a proportion of the
households were renters, but I'd be loathe to predict where that threshold
is.  I, for one, hope that ten years down the road there will be more
rental opportunities in cohousing both in absolute numbers, and in
proportion to the number homeowners in any given community. 

Joani Blank
Doyle Street and Old Oakland Cohousings, SF Bay Area.
Only one more unit--two enclosed bedrooms and large sleeping loft, 1172 sq
ft.--available for reservation in Old Oakland/Swan's Market. Construction
to begin this month. Move-in projected for Feb-Mar, 1999

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