Re: hospitality-privacy quandary
From: Sharon Villines (
Date: Sun, 15 Oct 2017 11:03:27 -0700 (PDT)
> On Oct 15, 2017, at 12:45 PM, Ruth J Hirsch <heidinys [at]> 
> wrote:

> We interested in policies you have re: use of common property (ie, ?the 
> land.?)
> We are in the Hudson Valley and have wonderful, beautiful land,  waterfront  
> and many friends and acquaintances.  
> On the one hand, we welcome them,  and on the same hand,  folks like to be 
> able to walk and not bump into folks they do not know.  
> Please let us know what policies you have regarding use of community owned 
> land.

People are not supposed to be on the property without a direct connection to a 
resident who has invited them and is responsible for them. Any one unfamiliar 
can be greeted in a friendly way and asked who they are here to see. Guests in 
the guest rooms are announced on the internal email list and there is a small 
white board where their names and relationships can be written. 

We expect people to be on the property only at the specific request of a 
member. Some would like guests to also be accompanied on the in common spaces — 
not to be able to wander around in the CH all day or week unaccompanied. But 
that is impractical. I don’t remember how it finally got worded, if at all, but 
we once agreed that they had to be accompanied to use the kitchen but that 
isn’t always done. Certainly, no one can just show up and make coffee or a 
5-course meal or can tomatoes because our kitchen is bigger.

Otherwise your liability relationship changes. The Association is responsible 
for the many thing the people cause to happen or happens to them on your 
property.  It’s in the same category as putting a swing set in your yard for 
neighborhood children to play on. Does it meet public regulations for safety, 
signage, and maintenance? Have you taken all the precautions that the city 
would be required to take in public parks? What if they are camping there? 
Partying at midnight?

What if they bring a pet and it bites someone?

Another issue is that the legal status and liability change according to what 
kind of entity you are. If you are a Home-Owners’s Association, that normally 
doesn’t include running a publicly accessible woods to wander and swim. You 
would have to have a legal standing that allowed you to do that—and protected 

Sharon Villines
Takoma Village Cohousing, Washington DC

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