Re: Equity Co-op
From: Sharon Villines (
Date: Tue, 14 Jan 2003 07:44:01 -0700 (MST)

On Tuesday, January 14, 2003, at 01:58 AM, Patty Nowlin & Pat Guyn wrote:

Economic contributions to the co-op are equal, and the assets of the co-op cannot be paid out or divided up among the members. Co-ops have the right to both the approval of membership and the termination of membership (try that in a condo!), and following along on that unpleasant situation, an option to purchase the unit of a terminated member. So we get to own our units as Strata land titles and realize changes in market value. However, wrapped around that ownership is the owners membership in the cooperative, with all the responsibilities (backed up by bylaws encumbered to the strata title) which govern the "living there issues", etc. The co-op has title to the common land which the strata titles hover overtop of.

Many, and perhaps the majority of buildings in New York City are co-ops. Members own shares that permit them to occupy units. Fees are based on the number of shares one owns, usually relative to the size of the unit one is allowed to occupy. Moving into most coops is a process that can involve full financial disclosure, personal interviews, and background checks. No reason has to be given for rejection and the criteria for membership is entirely in the hands of the association. Most associations in New York are run exclusively by the board members with one annual meeting of the membership, though this is not necessarily so.

Cooperative ownership would be a good structure for cohousing groups. I was in New York when I discovered cohousing and made some attempts to start a project there. Since the cooperative form of ownership is so prevalent there, I thought the legal structure would not be a problem as it is elsewhere. The problem is the construction industry and the difficulty of getting anything built, plus the cost. There are government programs (don't ask me how to find them) that allow residents of buildings to buy and renovate their buildings and some residents of big old totally dilapidated rent-controlled buildings have done that.

Sharon Villines
Takoma Village Cohousing, Washington DC

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