Re: Legality of membership agreements. Is it discriminatory?
From: Diana Carroll (
Date: Wed, 14 Mar 2018 04:44:49 -0700 (PDT)
"Here are the legal condo docs for our community: http://mosaic- (They are in two parts because we have a
"super-association" with two sub-associations because reasons.)  What you
want to look at is the Mosaic Commons Declaration of Trust and the Master

In particular, look at Exhibit A at the end of the Declaration of Trust.

On Wed, Mar 14, 2018 at 7:39 AM, Diana Carroll <dianaecarroll [at]>

> I'll share my limited knowledge of the legal situation below, but first I
> wanted to ask WHY this issue is important to you.
> I'm guessing it's because you are fearful that someone will move into your
> community who isn't into the whole "community" thing and just wants the
> house. You worry that that person/people will not follow consensed-upon
> guidelines, and won't be a good, community-minded person, perhaps even
> disrupting the community.
> We (Mosaic Commons) worried about that a lot!  It turns out our worries
> were unfounded. Mostly, people who move into cohousing do so because they
> *want to live in cohousing*. Our houses are smaller than other houses they
> could get for the money. You have to park your car a long way from your
> unit.  The of the neighborhood is, which
> many find unnerving and invasive.  People who aren't into that just *don't
> move here. *
> We do have some people who seem more or less committed than others to
> participating actively/a productive way in the community, but that's going
> to happen regardless of what people sign when they purchase.  Every
> cohousing community reports the same thing. Even people who THINK they want
> community don't always like the realities of it when they move on. Friendly
> neighbors and low crime? Yes! Going to meetings and making rules by
> consensus?  Not so much.
> Okay, that said, here's what I know about your actual question....
> All HOAs and condos require home owners to follow rules. Those documents
> are provided to the buyers before purchase. I don’t know if the buyers are
> required to literally *sign* those documents, I imagine that depends on
> state law.  (I believe in MA you need to sign that they were provided to
> you, not positive on that.) Ask your realtor how that works in your state.
> I'm guessing you are legally limited to only requiring what is in your
> official condo/HOA documents.  Your email didn't state anything about how
> far along you are in the process...planning, building, moved-in... (helpful
> to include that info!)...but if your condo entity is not yet registered,
> you can make those the documents say what you need said.
> When we at Mosaic Commons created our condo docs (10 years ago), we
> thought very carefully about what to include.  We had already decided on
> several "rules" for our community, ranging from our consensus process to a
> dog leash rule to how many consecutive nights members could reserve the
> guest rooms. We codified a few of those rules as part of the condo docs.
> These are the rules that we can *legally enforce*. Here in MA you
> absolutely *cannot* legally enforce rules that discriminate on the basis
> of the state's protected classes, which include race, gender, sexuality,
> religion, handicap, etc.  To be safe, nothing can even be interpreted as
> discriminatory, even if you didn't intend it that way. Your lawyer needs to
> carefully review the language in your condo docs to make sure it's legal.
> Mosaic Commons also has a large set of rule, guidelines, and best
> practices that are not codified in our condo docs, and thus not legally
> enforceable.  These include things like participation in work weekends,
> reservations of guest rooms, etc.  Basically, the stuff that distinguishes
> cohousing from a regular condo association.
> We certainly try hard to make sure that new buyers see our cohousing
> documents in addition to the official condo docs, but there's no
> requirement that the association have contact with the buyer before
> purchase, so that doesn't necessarily happen.  (One of our "cohousing"
> rules is that when a home is resold, the seller provide this info to the
> buyer...but that too is a cohousing rule and is therefore not legally
> enforceable.)
> Here are the legal condo docs for our community: http://mosaic-
> (They are in two parts because we have a
> "super-association" with two sub-associations because reasons.)  What you
> want to look at is the Mosaic Commons Declaration of Trust and the Master
> Deed.
> Diana
> Mosaic Commons, Berlin, MA
> On Wed, Mar 14, 2018 at 7:00 AM Alicia Nowicki <alicianowicki [at]>
> wrote:
>> I totally understand what the realtor is saying and yet I think it is
>> important for someone who is moving into your community to understand what
>> is expected of them.  I understand we have no legal right to exclude
>> someone but I do believe we have a right to be sure they are informed
>> before they move in.  Perhaps that viewpoint can be shared with the realtor.
>> Alicia
>> Sent from my iPhone
>> > On Mar 12, 2018, at 1:51 PM, Barbara Opyt <barbopyt [at]> wrote:
>> >
>> > We were thinking of having prospective buyers sign a statement something
>> > like "I have read the member handbook and will support the requirements
>> of
>> > living in this cohousing commnity."  However, a realtor in our midst
>> says,
>> > " Just so you all know, it is illegal to have potential buyer's sign
>> > anything in the state of TN because it looks discriminatory. As a
>> realtor,
>> > it is actually illegal for me to discriminate- it is clearly stated in
>> our
>> > rules. I know we wish for like minded people to be in our community but
>> as
>> > Realtors, we are not allowed to turn down an offer based upon some of
>> > things you have listed above since this isn't a Co-Op."
>> >
>> > Has anyone had the legality of their membership requirements questioned?
>> > Thanks in advance,
>> > -Barb Opyt
>> > _________________________________________________________________
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>> >
>> >
>> >
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