re: Are CC&R's and Bylaws Binding?
From: Christine Johnson (
Date: Thu, 20 Apr 2006 11:00:58 -0700 (PDT)
Norm Gauss wrote:

>..Does anybody have any perspective of whether the CC&R's and Bylaws are legally binding? Does the community have the option of ignoring the Governing Documents?

I can only assume your question is rhetorical, Norm! Any individual or community is free to ignore the Governing Documents. The C,C, & Rs & the By-Laws, are of course, legally "binding" to the extent that there is enforcement; without enforcement, by definition the Governing Documents are not "binding." The fact that we may ignore agreements stated in our Governing Documents does not eliminate the obligation of the governing body to enforce compliance but if no one individual or group within or without the community compels enforcement through social pressure, application of consequences, or litigation, then while the obligation to enforce remains, it is simply an obligation that is not met.

For example: Our local leash laws and our community's C,C, & R rules on dogs are concordant: dogs are required to be leashed when outside of our homes. I can take my dog down the street to the park and let him run off leash and risk a $250.00 ticket for a first offense. Alternatively, I can let my dog run off leash in my cohousing community and the consequence is a few or many irritated neighbors.

Can my neighbors compel me to comply with the Governing Documents through requiring our governing body to enforce the pet policy provision in the C,C & Rs? Sure. Will they? Probably not. Why not? That's more interesting, don't you think!

I think the interesting question is what it does to a community when agreements are consistently ignored. What happens when people are unwilling to address their reasons for ignoring the agreements through using existing process to revisit and review an agreement but instead just act in defiance of the agreement.

If it is that folks simply don't care that their neighbors are unhappy with their behavior, what happens to the community as a whole? Maybe some of the members in older cohousing communities for whom this has been the case, will comment. What changes happened? What was the tenor of the community? What's it's like now?

Christine Johnson
Stone Curves Cohousing
Tucson, AZ

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