Re: Seeking sample condominium docs (Declaration, Bylaws, Rules and Regs)
From: Diana Carroll (
Date: Fri, 6 Mar 2015 06:50:00 -0800 (PST)
Be sure to get professional advice from someone who works in or with the
mortgage industry on what language will be acceptable to potential lenders.
The last thing you want is for no one in your community to be able to get a
mortgage or refi because of something wacky in your docs.

Av example of the kind of things lenders want to see: limitations on how
much back condo fees they will be responsible for if they foreclose; and
exception for foreclosures in any "right of first refusal" type clauses;
requirements for liability and malfeasance insurance.  There are niggly
details where the legal rules vary from state to state, but the lender
requirements don't.  Banks change their requirements faster than states
change their laws.  If you start from boilerplate language, whether
specific to your state or from other community's docs, make sure someone
knowledgable reviews them for bank friendliness!

On Friday, March 6, 2015, Sharon Villines <sharon [at]> 

> > On Mar 5, 2015, at 3:15 PM, Melissa Klein <malkahbinah [at]
> <javascript:;>> 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 bylaws.
> 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.
> Sharon
> ----
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