Re: Short-term rentals
From: R Philip Dowds (
Date: Sun, 3 Nov 2013 06:32:55 -0800 (PST)
What intrigues me about these renter discussions are the two underlying 
presumptions that:
     (1) Homeownership imbues both households and communities with a mystic 
positive aura that promotes enlightened self-interest, responsible 
participation, and domestic tranquility; while ...
     (2) Renters (if tolerated at all) are potential problems that always need 
thoughtful and vigilant management.

Basically, this is bunk.

Nationwide, our owner-occupied dwelling unit rate is around two-thirds, 
although this proportion favors the aged and disfavors young adults and 
families.  Further, the “high” average includes suburban and rural location 
where homeownership runs very high.  But most cities do not see the same high 
rates.  Manhattan owner occupancy is about 20% of occupied residential units; 
even Manhattan’s famous co-ops have trouble breaking beyond the 50% threshold.  
In Cambridge (MA), owner occupancy is only about 35%.

Manhattan and Cambridge are healthy, functional, vital and exciting urban 
centers; nobody would regard them as failed cities.  Detroit, on the other 
hand, is about to go belly up.  The owner-occupancy rate of Detroit is about 
70% … although that includes abandoned properties for which the resident owner 
can no longer be found.

I will, of course, acknowledge that demographics in suburban and rural areas 
are much different from city demographics.  But instead of trying to “manage” 
the “renter problem”, sometimes we would do better to understand that if we 
want our coho communities to be reasonable cross-sections of our town or city 
or region, we would be actively figuring out how to accommodate renters and 
welcoming them to join us.

R Philip Dowds
Cornerstone Village Cohousing
Cambridge, MA

On Nov 3, 2013, at 7:13 AM, Mary Vallier-Kaplan <marycvk [at]> wrote:

> Some additional thoughts as after 5 years of initial sales post recession
> we are beginning to assess our experience to date with renters, etc.
> Lessons learned:  Short term rentals vs long term rentals
> Renters who are here with less than a 3 month intended stay in general and
> even when they are great people have less of an investment in the community
> so we now do a more "functional" orientation than a full investment  to
> integrate them into the community.   We have learned that the landlord
> needs to physically be here to help the person successfully transition into
> the unit on the first day.   We do expect the landlord to orient them to
> the living requirements like recycling, parking, heat, etc.  We do welcome
> them to meals and to observe meetings etc. but most do not.   Most do not
> highly engage in community.  Some times they join in for the fun but not
> the work which can be an irritant as the rest of us work, work, work.
> Renters who intend to be here greater than 3 months receive the same
> integration investment as an owner and are given the same rights and
> responsibilities other than annual budget decisions and a few other "owner"
> exclusive rights which are very few in our community.  They are expected to
> be an active member of at least one team, attend Plenary, participate in
> workday, attend meals, etc.  In general this is what they want and this is
> what we want.  We ask the landlord to share these expectations before unit
> is rented and if there are any issues, we ask the landlord to become
> involved.  To date all of these folks have invested in the same way with
> work like on the farm.  They don't seem however to engage quite as much in
> community development and community life such as figuring how to manage
> conflict or building a new equipment barn or a more developed workshare
> system.
> We don't have any guidelines about when and how often you can rent or have
> housemates.  We will be having a conversation this year about that now that
> we have experience with renters.  Certainly those who live here full time
> know they want all others to be committed in the same way to the community.
> We don't know yet if that means we want to limit rentals in any way but if
> the majority of the community was absentee landlords I think personally our
> community would be concerned.  So do we put in any agreements from
> preventing that happening?  I'd like to hear from others.
> Housemates are a different breed.  We've only had a few.  To date each one
> has played a different role.  We don't have any guidelines about their
> roles and responsibilities.  Any thoughts?  Long term young adult family
> members has also been a question mark as to roles and responsibilities.
> Generally we leave it up to the family but than it differs from family to
> family.
> Mary V-K
> Nubanusit Neighborhood & Farm
> On Fri, Nov 1, 2013 at 9:36 AM, Margaret Porter <
> margaret.porter [at]> wrote:
>> Cohousers--What has your community's experience been with short-term
>> rentals? Do you allow them or not? If you allow them, how do you define
>> "short-term?" If you allow short-term rentals, what has been the impact, if
>> any, on your community's development and cohesiveness?  Any thoughts or
>> comments would be greatly appreciated.
>> Margaret Porter
>> Silver Sage Village
>> Boulder, Colorado
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