Re: Minimum standards for Membership
From: R Philip Dowds (
Date: Sat, 12 Feb 2011 13:47:13 -0800 (PST)
A few interesting things here:

 --- It looks like the franchise accrues equally to each and every resident
adult, not to the unit or the household.  If a household has four adults,
then its ³voting² weight is four times that of a household with just one.
 --- I¹m not convinced that you can exclude a unit owner from exercising
rights or participation in the Association because s/he did not attend the
right meeting, or forgot to read the memo.  And how would one know that the
documents have been read (and understood)?  Is there an examination as part
of the purchase and sale?
 --- The community¹s right of first refusal is usually a valid deed
restriction.  In practice, however, it will not have much force, effect or
consequence until and unless the community creates a reserve fund for that
very purpose.  It¹s somewhere between extremely difficult and impossible for
a few dozen households to gin up $400,000 on short notice, just to forestall
a sale to a dubious purchaser.  Mercifully, however, what we mostly find is
that people who buy in here are open to the possibilities of cohousing, and
people who are not finish their shopping elsewhere.

Philip Dowds
Cornerstone Cohousing
Cambridge, MA

On 2/12/11 7:29 AM, "Fred H Olson" <fholson [at]> wrote:

> 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 --------------------
> Fran,
> 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
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