Re: renter's role in decision making
From: R Philip Dowds (
Date: Tue, 5 Aug 2014 10:15:12 -0700 (PDT)
In a meeting that seeks to adopt a policy, approve a budget, and/or make a 
decision by developing something that falls within everyone's tolerance range, 
then there is a lot to be said for inclusivity.  That is, for as much 
participation as possible, including that of owners (persons having their names 
on the deeds), plus significant others, plus tenants, plus even ten-year-olds.  
If you can invent the solution that is tolerable to everyone, then a good time 
is had by all, and the entire community bonds better.

But what if not?  What if you can't invent something that is within everyone's 
tolerance range?
     (1) Under the old "consensus" model, it's tough patooties, and you're 
stuck with the status quo until the entire group comes up with something better.
     (2) In some of the newer "consent" models, there is some kind of an escape 
hatch, such that a small minority cannot enforce the status quo against the 
preference of most of its neighbors.  At Cornerstone, it's a 75% super-majority 
vote -- but only by unit, not by individual.  And never until options for 
finding the universally tolerated solution have been fully explored and 

So, net effect:  When we all agree, it's nice to have tenants in the frame, and 
part of that agreement.  When we can't agree, it's only owners doing the 
voting.  This dodges the bullet of trying to say what kinds of topics are not 
suited to tenant participation.

Philip Dowds

> On Aug 5, 2014, at 10:01 AM, Fred-List manager <fholson [at]> 
> wrote:
> Mary Vallier-Kaplan <marycvk [at]>
> is the author of the message below.  It was posted by
> Fred, the Cohousing-L list manager <fholson [at]>
> after saving the "attached" document at:
> --------------------  FORWARDED MESSAGE FOLLOWS --------------------
> Greetings
> Our community after our first five years of experience recently
> revised and agreed to a new Membership Agreement which addresses who
> is a Member and their rights and responsibilities.  We based it on
> input from many of you, our experience to date, and our overall
> values.  Not easy task.  I have attached it for your use.
> Basically the following folks have the same functional rights and
> responsibilities: anyone who is a unit owner, a spouse or domestic
> partner of the unit owner who is in residence and any tenant whose
> intent is to be in the community more than 90 days.  We have found
> that tenants of less than 90 days are not hear to participate
> meaningfully in the community.  As you can see, the issue of other
> adults living in one's home was a bit more challenging.  However at
> the end of the day the unit owner is ultimately held accountable for
> whatever our community attributes to units.
> Our Bylaws also talk about the rights and responsibilities of Unit
> Owners. It defers to this Membership Agreement as to rights of Members
> which includes tenants.  Our Unit Owners unlike tenants attend the
> annual meeting, participate in what ostensibly is a ratifying vote on
> annual budget, election of Steering Team and changes to the ByLaws.
> I would say that unit owners in residence in general participate more
> in fulfilling the responsibilities of the community than even than
> some of the long term tenants but some of the long term tenants do
> more than a few of the unit owners in residence.
> Hope this is of value.
> Mary Vallier-Kaplan
> Nubanusit Neighorhood & Farm
> Peterborough, NH
>> On Tue, Jul 29, 2014 at 8:18 PM, Susan Adams <sadams430 [at]> 
>> wrote:
>> Hi all,
>> We are a forming community, and are working on our rental policy.  We are
>> discussing the role of renters in community decisions.   We are a consensus
>> seeking group.  We would love to hear what has worked for you and what has
>> not worked.
>> Thanks,
> _________________________________________________________________
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