Re: Cohousing policies
From: Chris Hansen (
Date: Thu, 29 Mar 2018 04:34:59 -0700 (PDT)
I am a member of a CoHousing community which has been running for ten years.
We have been experiencing what could be described as a 'ten-year itch', and
are just in the process of revisiting policies, guidelines, governance
structure, values, conflict-resolution etc.
What I can say is that you will find out what you need as you go, and so if
nothing else, it's useful to have an agreed-upon process for making and
reviewing policies, agreements and guidelines. Perhaps even a regular
review period so that you're proactive rather than reactive...

On Wed, 28 Mar 2018 at 22:56 Sharon Villines <sharon [at]>

> On Mar 28, 2018, at 10:26 PM, Chris Terbrueggen <christopher402 [at] 
> wrote:
> >
> > Greetings, I reviewed the list serve history  to see what has been
> discussed about Cohousing policies . I noticed the focus on pets, smoking ,
> guns, participation and rental policies . I understand that it is very
> important to have clear understandings on these issues before move in.
> However, I feel that these policies alone do not lay the foundation for a
> strong Cohousing operations . What specific policies does a urban cohousing
> community need when starting a community of  45 households ?
> My personal advice is to not go crazy making policies before you move in.
> You need bylaws in order to legally establish the community. Those are
> standard topics that are available in any bylaws for a condominium. How do
> you make decisions? Who is eligible to vote/consent on issues? Quorum.
> Governance methods.
> Otherwise, the most important issues are those that determine whether a
> household can make a commitment or not.
> Pets can be serious — people won’t come without their pets. Others are
> allergic or afraid. How do you resolve that? Which direction does the group
> want to go. Remember grandfathering in — initial outdoor cats may be
> accepted as they are, but no new outdoor cats. Check city regs. Don’t fence
> yourself in.
> A lot of things just have to work themselves out. Things you think will be
> major won’t be (except for pets) and others will be (like pets).
> I think the most important concern when we moved in was that we didn’t
> know how to manage a $7.5 million multi-family housing development.
> We didn’t know what had to be inspected when or we would be shut down. How
> floors should be cleaned in a commercial situation. Who was responsible for
> checking the sump pumps? Who knows how to cancel an alarm that goes off
> accidentally? Who notifies the fire department? How and where do you post
> emergency messages — the CH is inaccessible because the security system has
> frozen. Expecting 18 inches of snow and the plowing company didn’t sign the
> contract and says they never heard of us. Who deals with that?
> What has to be done when someone hits a sprinkler head and floods their
> unit, or the kitchen? When the elevator gets stuck? Trash and recycling?
> How? Who? And how much? It’s a huge learning curve.
> Stuff like that can be overwhelming—and also great community builders. I
> often wish with our new residents we could go through something like that
> again.
> Even if you have a management company, they won’t be onsite. And like our
> first management company, they might be totally incompetent anyway. A
> company is only as good as the person they assign to you. One suggestion is
> to interview a local building manager—take them to lunch or invite them to
> a meeting. Start attending local meetings of the Community Associations
> Institute.
> Not trying to scare you, just pointing you in another direction. We were
> quite fortunate to have members who stepped up and became experts on things
> when they went wrong. And resident electrical engineer and several DIY
> people.
> Sharon
> ----
> Sharon Villines
> Takoma Village Cohousing, Washington DC
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Chris Hansen
32 East Village Drive
Vermont 05401
+1 802 5408153

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