Re: Seeking sample condominium docs (Declaration, Bylaws, Rules and Regs)
From: Sharon Villines (
Date: Fri, 6 Mar 2015 06:42:05 -0800 (PST)
> On Mar 5, 2015, at 3:15 PM, Melissa Klein <malkahbinah [at]> wrote:
> This will be the first urban cohousing in our area.

First a comment on how cohousing is has grown. People used to say the first 
cohousing community on the East Coast, or the first cohousing community in the 
sate of......, etc. Now we are at "the first of" types of cohousing, not 
cohousing communities vs all other communities.

> We're at the stage of preparing to create condominium docs and would
> appreciate seeing what other cohousing condominiums have created, as well
> as any commentary about how the particular provisions in your documents
> have served/not served your community.

I agree with Jessie's advice to start with standard condo docs and replace or 
modify the voting provisions. Also check your local laws for requirements of 
condos. In DC the condo laws state what is true unless otherwise stated in the 

Take your bylaws seriously and refer to them often. You might use them as 
working documents while you are forming, for example. That way everyone knows 
what is in them and they are more likely to "hold." It is not an uncommon 
opinion in cohousing for people to think the bylaws are for the bank; we do 
whatever we want. Since within the community there will be a few dozen 
assumptions about what that means, it will be better in the long run to have a 
clear direction in the bylaws.

"Clear direction" doesn't mean detailed. Things that might change need to be 
put in separate community agreements because they can more easily be changed. 
The policy for late payments in the bylaws might state that fees shall be 
assessed for late payments and liens shall be placed on property after so many 
months in arrears. But a community agreement should state the process for 
collection, etc.

And for bylaws to be useful, they need to be written in plain language. They 
should be as clear as the instructions for ..... I can't think of a good 
example since most of our instructions are written in English by people who 
don't speak it -- Japanese, Hindi, etc. -- ut you know what I mean. If your 
10-year-olds can't understand them, they are too weird. Here is a blog post I 
wrote that will illustrate the problems with legalistic language and how plain 
language is actually the accepted norm now.

A Deeper Democracy: transparent, inclusive, accountable

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