Re: What legal structure is best for a small group?
From: Ann Zabaldo (
Date: Sun, 23 Dec 2018 11:53:45 -0800 (PST)
Hello Copia and Jonobie —

Chicago is one of the great cities I love to visit.  Happy to hear there will 
be cohousing there to visit as well.

Jonobie — where are you located?

To your questions about legal entities.

Have you searched the Cohousing-L archives?  There is a lot of material there 
about legal entities.
Have you read either Creating Cohousing by McCamant and Durrett?
Or the Cohousing Handbook by Chris Scotthanson?
And have you scoured the <> website?  A very 
rich resource for those initiating a cohousing community.  You can also 
download free materials from the Mid Atlantic Cohousing website: <>

This question about legal entities you are asking may seem simple.  It is … and 
it is not.  It depends on what you want to do.  

Are you acting as your own developer?
Are you partnering with a professional developer?
Are you hiring professionals to work with you as you build your group?

Then, after those questions are answered, there are plenty more to consider.

For now …

1.      Legal entity is the same for a small or big group.  

2.      You will have multiple legal structures: as a forming group, if you 
partner with a development entity or you act as your own developer, 

3.      Your final legal entity:  condominium, co-op or HoA.   These legal 
structures will dictate how your property and built environment will be 
allocated e.g. common elements and limited common elements.  Study the 
differences in these legal structures.  You can just google the key words.  
TONS of information available on line.  Not any different for cohousing vs. 
standard housing development.

As soon as possible I suggest you start working with a cohousing professional 
to help guide you through the steps to move from thinking and talking about 
cohousing to living in your new community.  When I make this suggestion, 
inevitably I get responses such as:  hiring a person like this is too 
expensive!  We can save money by doing it ourselves.  We don’t need anyone — we 
read the book and we’ll just follow that.

From experience, I can tell you there is nothing more expensive than to see a 
group in year 2,3,4 and beyond still working on very basic steps.  Spending 
this kind of time robs a group of time, energy, financing, members, etc.  It’s 
very expensive especially in terms of group cohesion.  (And before I start 
getting email from individuals in groups that took 5 or 10 years to build their 
community … my hat is off to you.  I acknowledge your fortitude and ambition.  
In the first 10 or so years of cohousing in the U.S. there may not have been a 
professional to hire even if you wanted to.  But now there are choices. I also 
acknowledge in some situations there are huge hurdles to overcome e.g. site 
acquisition, zoning or financing. A cohousing professional can guide your up, 
over, through or around these hurdles.)

Good luck to you both as you wend your way on the path to living in cohousing.  
It’s the best!  Let the list know how you are progressing.

Best --

Ann Zabaldo
Takoma Village Cohousing
Washington, DC
Member, Board of Directors
Mid Atlantic Cohousing
Principal, Cohousing Collaborative, LLC
Falls Church, VA

They say the universe is expanding. That should help with the traffic. Steven 

> On Dec 22, 2018, at 11:40 AM, Jonobie Ford <jonobie [at]> wrote:
> I’d love to learn the same, because my group is a similar scale.
> On Sat, Dec 22, 2018 at 5:40 AM Copia Webster <copiawebster [at]>
> wrote:
>> I live in Chicago, and am creating a small co-housing organization with
>> 6-10 friends.
>> I am interested in learning what legal vehicles others have used in setting
>> up *small* co-housing communities.
>> We need a vehicle that can own real estate while allowing us to directly
>> enjoy and control it’s use. We need the named list of folks who contributed
>> towards its purchase to have lifetime use of the building, while the
>> vehicle also protects the building from any claims by creditors or heirs of
>> the individuals on that list.
>> Thank you,
>> Linda
>> _________________________________________________________________
>> Cohousing-L mailing list -- Unsubscribe, archives and other info at:
> _________________________________________________________________
> Cohousing-L mailing list -- Unsubscribe, archives and other info at:

Results generated by Tiger Technologies Web hosting using MHonArc.