Re: Minimum standards for Membership
From: Fred H Olson (
Date: Sat, 12 Feb 2011 04:29:34 -0800 (PST)
David Clements evdavwes [at]
is the author of the message below.  It was posted by
Fred, the Cohousing-L list manager <fholson [at]>
after deleting quoted digest
--------------------  FORWARDED MESSAGE FOLLOWS --------------------


FYI the below is from the bylaws of Westwood Cohousing.   I am not a
lawyer but refer below to what I think are legal realities.  Please
correct if I am wrong.

In my opinion our bylaws could be improved.  We have the right of
first refusal if someone wants to sell their house.  This is in the
declaration.   I think a stronger way to state the membership rules
is that approval of a possible buyer is contingent on their meeting
the requirements.  If we fail to approve a potential buyer, they still
can buy unless we find a substitute buyer within 30 days (very hard to
do in this market).  This right of first refusal is the only authority
we have to select or screen owners.  I have the impression that this
sort of discrimination is legal, although discrimination on the basis
of race, religion, gender, and other criteria mentioned in the Fair
Housing Act is not legal.

We have not set up our declaration properly to be able to insist that
those who want to rent need to follow certain guidelines, such as
getting approval and following the steps to membership noted above.
Because restricting rentals is a restriction of the owner's rights,
owners need to agree to this by putting it in the declaration.  If
they do not, any restrictions are voluntary and perhaps less
effective.  In our community some who rent their houses or have
roommates have had the renter meet the "requirements for membership,"
but many have not, and we have had a number of renters who did not
participate in the community.

David Clements

Section 2. Membership: All adults shall confirm to the Association before 
joining that they have:

a. Attended at least one community supper and one business meeting of
the Association as an observer,

b. Read the Cohousing Book, current edition,

c. Read the Member Packet,

d. Understand that their occupancy and use of a Lot is subject to the
Declaration, Bylaws and these Rules and Regulations (of which they
have been provided a copy), and

e. Understand that Members of the Association, as defined below, shall
have the right to vote as provided in the Declaration, the Bylaws and
these Rules and Regulations; and that â??Membersâ?? shall be the
residents of the Development eighteen years of age and older, living,
or expecting to live, in the community three months or longer, and
such other persons as are voted thereto by the Association.

-------- Original message -------------------

I am a member of a group working to develop a cohousing community.  We are
looking for samples of formal requirements for member participation, e.g.
requirements articulated in bylaws.  Ideas under  consideration include
owner-occupancy, intent and capacity to participate in decision-making.
intent and willingness to commit to a minimum level of hours to participate
per month.  I'd appreciate advice and copies of bylaws used.  Thank you.

Fran Lunney

Results generated by Tiger Technologies Web hosting using MHonArc.