Re: Limitation of number of renters question
From: Sharon Villines (
Date: Sun, 28 Jan 2018 09:19:47 -0800 (PST)
It is wise to limit rentals, not because of the character of the renters, but 
because an owner can often make a ton of money renting. Why not rent? Even if 
you have a high mortgage, by renting you are paying off your mortgage and may 
have $200 a month extra income. Or if you have a low mortgage, you can live off 
the income. 

If I rented my unit instead of living in it, I would have $1500 a month over 
and above the costs of maintaining the unit. I could live somewhere else for 
less than that (not DC) and rent forever. In some cities the margin is even 

The financial advantages of renting is too great for many owners to pass up, 
particularly in highly desirable areas. 

The result of having renters has been very good for us on the whole. People 
have become well-integrated members of the community. Rentals have also allowed 
us to have members that would not have lived here if they were not able to 
rent. A couple with 3 children from Germany were here for a year on a research 
grant. They were fulling integrated to our daily lives and still keep in touch.

Without stopping to count, I would say more than half of the renters have 
purchased the units they were living in or other units in the community. 

The issue is the transient nature they bring. I feel this most strongly — how 
close do I get to people who are temporary? How strong are the bonds? And the 
conflict of wanting a household to stay but the owner won’t sell. The household 
moves because they want the permanence of ownership and the ability to renovate 
to their needs. There is nothing I can do to keep that household in the 

And the work — it’s a lot of work to be continually orienting and supporting 
another household. It takes time to learn a community and to find the right 
place, jobs, social contacts, etc. The more times we have to do that the more 
work we have. When do we relax and just be here?

It’s easy to underestimate the work that integrating a new household takes—and 
should take if you want them to feel like they aren’t the new kid forever. I 
finally realized after 5 or 6 move-ins and move-outs on my corridor why condos 
charge a standard moving fee of ~$150. Because that many trips up and down the 
elevator or stairs carrying boxes and unwieldy pieces of furniture does damage 
that builds up even if there are no major damages. One set of outdoor wooden 
stairs which has had at least 5 sets of moves is in much worse shape compared 
to others where there have been none.

Oddly the same units tend to have rental and ownership changes often. When I 
start counting changes it sounds like a lot but it is from the same units.

So the factors that people often cite — bad tenants— are not the ones that 
affect the community. Or not the ones that happen frequently enough to worry 

One caveat is that we have found useful the phrase in our bylaws that units 
can’t be used for “transient" purposes. In real estate lingo that seems to be 
rentals of less than 30 days and in some buildings 6 months. One resident was 
going on vacation for a month and wanted to rent her unit to 4 different 
people—one each week. Panic. Even perfectly nice people take time when they are 
new. And they take the time of the people who work at home. Not those who are 
gone all day.

The other phrase you want is that units can’t be held for investment purposes. 
The people renting must intend to return. Hard to enforce but we also have a 
time limit of 3 years--3 years of 9 years.

Sharon Villines
Takoma Village Cohousing, Washington DC

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