Re: Last resort dealing with very difficult member
From: R Philip Dowds (
Date: Mon, 18 May 2015 07:17:32 -0700 (PDT)
Federal fair housing law (a highly complex field that militates against 
generalities) prohibits discrimination based on protected attributes such as 
age, race, gender, and sexual preference.  Bongo playing is not a protected 
attribute, so when accepting new member / owners, you can discriminate against 
bongo players as unsuited for your thin-wall construction.  However, if it’s a 
black bongo player, s/he may try to make the case that your discrimination was 
based on race, not on musicianship.  Such a case is not a slam dunk for either 

Meanwhile, at Cornerstone, our master deed contains some boiler plate about the 
rights of “members in good standing”.  ???  What constitutes good standing?  
What can we do to downgrade a member’s standing?  And when his/her standing is 
downgraded to “bad”, what rights does s/he lose?  We have no idea, and neither 
do most condos in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

Truth is, homeownership, and the rights of homeowners, have extremely high 
priority in American law; these rights tend to trump many other considerations. 
 Evicting a problem homeowner is well nigh impossible, and shutting him/her out 
of your affairs, when s/he is determined to participate, is, from a legal 
standpoint, tricky.  I always advise my clients, Whatever you do, leave the 
lawyers out of it for as long as possible.

R Philip Dowds
175 Harvey Street, Unit 5
Cambridge, MA 02140

land:     617.354.6094
mobile: 617.460.4549
email:   rpdowds [at] <mailto:rpdowds [at]>

> On May 17, 2015, at 10:28 AM, Tom Smyth <tom [at]> wrote:
> Do any cohousing communities operate under a legal structure other than
> condominium? Do any have the legal ability to force someone out? Or to deny
> someone from moving in? I believe co-ops can do this, but it seems that
> condo-law would prevent either?
> It seems to me that a true community should have the ability to both
> interview and vet those joining it as well as to ask folks to leave. Most
> other organizational forms have this right (businesses, religions, clubs,
> associations, etc.) Why shouldn't we?

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