Re: Assessment abatement request
From: Raines Cohen (
Date: Thu, 27 Aug 2015 09:51:38 -0700 (PDT)
Pat -

I know the unit owner involved and the community (but I won't "out" you
here unless you wish to reveal the community name/location), and I have to
say I'm surprised at the circumstances, more than I am at the suggestion.

For someone to buy a unit and not move in - and not be able to rent it out?
What a loss to the community, having a place sit empty.

It is understandable that an individual homeowner's life circumstances may
change after purchase and he/she might not be able to move in -- but
solving that is an opportunity for the community, not just a problem for
the homeowner.

Potential loss of community HOA dues income should be (In My Not So Humble
Opinion) the LEAST of your concerns -- it seems like the most important
issue to tackle is the lack of having an active member participating in the
activities/meals/committees/meetings and contributing to the life of the
community, be it a renter or owner.

Is there no waiting list or marketing/resale committee? Are there no
transfer fees? If there were automatic required payments to the community
upon sale of a unit (a recommended best practice, as Ann Zabaldo presented
on at the national cohousing conference), that would help pay for
outreach/advertising, market development, partnering with regional groups,
not to mention hosting potential buyers and orienting your new neighbor
upon sale.

As I understand it, the unit owner asked about renting out the place, and
was sent a copy of community rules limiting the number of renters, so the
owner gave up on pursuing that option; it wasn't clear to me if the actual
maximum # of renters has been reached. It may be that the owner needs help
from the community to understand the situation and explore the options.

It sounds like there may be issues in how the current unit owner perceives
what the community is doing and how well both parties are communicating.
The distance between the owner's current home and the community may be
leading to having only formal communications and just using email, both of
which can prevent arriving at mutually beneficial solutions.

We'd be happy to help bridge some of these gaps including coming to meet
the community in person and sitting down with the homeowner in person, and
working on outreach to our extensive network of thousands of people seeking
community, including cohousing neighborhoods of your type in your area.

Remember, the owner could simply stop paying dues at all. The community
would have remedies available, including adding penalties and imposing
liens and eventually initiating a foreclosure on the property. None of
which would be fast, easy, or cheap for you. Keep in mind that members
refinancing/purchasing and the community maintaining your hard-earned
HUD/FHA approval is harder when you have homes behind on dues, so this
could rapidly become everybody's problem.

Likewise, if the owner gave up on paying the mortgage or property taxes,
the bank or government would eventually foreclose and trigger a
sale/auction, potentially reducing your comparable prices, affecting your

The best possible path would be for you to proactively engage with the
homeowner and work together to get someone in there who can be a full
participant in your community. Let us know if we can help.

Raines Cohen, Cohousing Coach and Certified Senior Advisor
Community Organizer, Cohousing California
Communify (Your City) - Regional Unconferences for Sustainable Communities

On Wed, Aug 26, 2015 at 10:47 AM, Pat Elliott <pdelliott43 [at]> 

> A member of our community bought her unit last year but never moved in,
> her circumstances having changed. For the last nine months, she has been
> trying to sell it or rent it long-term with no success for a variety of
> reasons. Now she is requesting that the HOA abate her assessments from
> about $320 to $100 a month until she either has a tenant or sells the unit.
> She says this is what other cohousing communities do. Of course, we
> budgeted on the basis of all units paying full assessments. Her unit being
> empty makes a very modest difference in the HOA costs, if any.

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