Re: definitions of "rental" in communities with limits on rentals
From: Sharon Villines (
Date: Wed, 19 Oct 2016 06:49:11 -0700 (PDT)
I think you will drive yourselves nuts if you try to develop a policy that 
covers all possibilities. It will be too complex for anyone to bother reading 
and too complicated to remember if they did. Much better to identify general 
principles and purposes. What do you care about? Start with a positive purpose 
instead of trying to address all possible situations.

The basic distinction we make is between rentals and leasing. 

Our bylaws prohibit “transient” use. The common definition of “transient” is 
less than a month. Air BnB would certainly be transient. We often have friends 
and relatives of owners occupying units when the owner is on vacation. They may 
or may not pay. We don’t know. The owner just announces who is staying in their 
unit while they are away. This is usually less than a two weeks, often a few 
days. No one unit does this frequently but overall their will probably be a 
dozen of these during a year, possibly more.

There is no limit or concern about people who have roommates, meaning the owner 
is in residence. Unless there were other behavior problems, no one would ask 
for any reason except curiosity.

We have one household who has Servas members staying in their unit when they 
take a month long vacation every summer.

All these instances would be rentals and are not restricted unless there was 
some related behavior problem. Roommates may or may not have lease agreements 
with the in residence owner.

 “Leasing” is the category that is limited—when the whole unit is leased for a 
period of time and the owner is not in residence. This is limited to 3 years 
for a specific purpose and the owner intends to return — a sabbatical year, job 
reassignment, etc. We are currently rewriting our policy on this but in general 
leasing is more structured requiring a formal lease and the requirement that 
the lease holders become associate members— in effect functioning and behaving 
as members of the community. They are joining a community, not just leasing an 

It’s hard, of course, to determine if someone is intending to return and there 
has been friction over this with the Board allowing it when “everyone knows” 
they aren’t coming back and are renting to make money. Rents in this 
neighborhood are now very high. It would be easy for me to clear $1500 a month 
if I leased my unit and went off to live with a friend or in a foreign country 
where living is comparatively inexpensive.

Sharon Villines
Takoma Village Cohousing, Washington DC

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