RE: Advice Requested on Co-Housing Condos
From: Rob Sandelin (
Date: Thu, 30 Jun 2005 12:24:56 -0700 (PDT)
Most CC&R's are legal documents, designed for mortgage providers. They
usually do not reflect your community agreements, e.g., what time is dinner,
how do we do childcare for meetings, etc. This is usually allowed for within
the CC&R's in a document called house agreements. Your day to day
operational agreements are house agreements. Usually it is a bad idea to
amend the CC&R's since in most cases you are supposed to notify ALL the
mortgagees (Banks) and usually they have to agree to the modification
(although you are in CA which has a bunch of unusual laws so your situation
may be different).

In our case we have a separate set of documents called the house rules which
pertain to things we have agreed to as a community about how we want to
live. In our state, mortgagees can ask for this document, but we are not
obligated to provide it to them if they do not ask. Again your state rules
will govern this kind of thing. 

In our CC&R's the house rules are an extension of the legal jurisdiction of
the CC&R's and just as legally binding. This is part of what the Wall street
journal once called the 4th branch of government. HOA rules, as long as they
do not conflict with local, state or federal rules, have been absolutely
upheld in hundreds of court cases. So, if you make a house rule that says
all cats must wear pink booties, this house rule has the same legal standing
as any law passed by a government. Scary. CA and NY have special
governmental agencies that regulate and deal with HOA's largely because of
the large amounts of lawsuits these house rules have generated over the

In our CC&R's it is clearly stated that anybody who enters the property is
subject to the rules of the association, whether they are guest, family,
neighbor or owner. I think this is standard procedure thus any new owner is
subject to the rules of the association. Of course, if they choose NOT to
follow these rules you have a social problem. We are very clear to new
owners, and give them copies of the house rules early on. Since we have some
restrictions on pets for example, we want to make it clear to them before
they buy. Legally in our state, before closing (10 days I think) the
prospective buyer and mortgagee are entitled to the CC&R's and we also give
the house rules to the buyer if we have not done so already.

Getting people to follow your agreements is a whole other topic.

Rob Sandelin
Sharingwood Cohousing
Snohomish Co, WA 

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