Re: What legal structure is best for a small group?
From: David Heimann (
Date: Tue, 25 Dec 2018 08:32:27 -0800 (PST)

Date: Sun, 23 Dec 2018 14:53:39 -0500
From: Ann Zabaldo <zabaldo [at]>
To: cohousing-l [at]
Subject: Re: [C-L]_ What legal structure is best for a small group?
Message-ID: <9F14A102-C890-41A4-800A-1D728BF8E85B [at]>
Content-Type: text/plain;       charset=utf-8

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.

-------------- or lot development model---------------
David Heimann
Jamaica Plain Cohousing, MA

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 

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