Re: Valuation for Common Facilities use - Adjacent Neighbors & Sharing
From: Sharon Villines (
Date: Wed, 30 Sep 2009 06:26:02 -0700 (PDT)
I would suggest that you be very clear under what circumstances people use the CH and how.

Our members have widely varying views on this. It will in all likelihood be difficult to maintain the member/guest/friendly neighbor distinctions if you have non residents as members.

Some of our members believe that anyone who has rented here or wants to move here should be included as a member. to participate in meals, belong to a team, etc. Relatives and friends should be able to sign up for meals on their own etc. Others, of course, do not.

Once people are given free reign of the CH it is hard to say, "This is private property. You can only be here as a guest of a member." Or, "You have to leave now. You didn't pay your dues this month." It feels rude and whose responsibility is it anyway? Who even knows if they paid their dues?

Who will monitor whether people are paying members or guests of a member? Are there different rules for different kinds of members and guests?

We have differences of opinion (and complete oblivion of the issue) about who should be able to use the kitchen or lounge around the CH. If I have 4 guests staying in the guest rooms, are they allowed to use the CH for 10 days as an almost constant presence watching TV, eating, etc. Can they have guests? Should I be present if my guests are? If I'm not, who helps them? Answering questions, warning them about problems with tuning the TV, telling them where the brooms are, how to work the clothes washer, where to buy detergent, etc. My guests might be very obnoxious people who demand attention or laugh too loud.

We do have a prohibition against their using the kitchen because they left so many messes, but there is a fine line between them using it alone and me "supervising" when I'm at work all day and not around in the evening.

We have several parents of residents who do not live in the area and visit frequently, often to do child care. They feel different. But neighbors would feel different and be a potentially frequent or even constant presence. It's a fine line. And one that can't be redrawn without offending both sides of the equation. Some of your members, not just your neighbors, will be furious if you try to redraw it.

There is an added issue with formal memberships rather than renting for a specific use. Beyond insurance and liability, our lawyer said that it would change our legal status. We would be functioning as something other than a condo association.

I'm not saying don't do it. A CH can be a financial burden and this is one way of helping with that, as well as being neighborly. But it's potentially a more complex issue than you might expect.

Sharon Villines
Takoma Village Cohousing, Washington DC

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