Re: Records Checks for Cohousing Group Members
From: Elizabeth Magill (
Date: Mon, 25 May 2020 11:00:59 -0700 (PDT)
Because you are selling homes, you are limited in what you can ask
people based on the law in your area. So your easiest solution to this
is to ask a real estate attorney some such to find out if it is legal
to do such a thing.

For people who are afraid, this information is probably not useful,
but the most dangerous people are not those that have been convicted
of sexual abuse or other child abuse, but rather those who have *not*
been convicted. For a child the most dangerous people are parents,
cousins, uncles, and aunts. Good family friends.
A rule against people who have been convicted and served their time
provides a false sense of security.

(The only exception to the very low recidivism rate for sexual crimes
is those who raped a person they didn't know--that recidivism rate is

In the forming stage we did discuss the possibility of limiting
membership based on conviction status but did not go ahead with it. We
did say that we would support and help anyone who has a restraining
order. (While in the forming stage we had some policy of how to remove
people as members, but now that people own homes it would require a
person to take legal action against a neighbor--the cohousing
organization doesn't have the power to make someone move.)

To me, this is an example where people are looking for a protection
that is beyond what cohousing can provide. We are just like an
ordinary neighborhood. Real people will join the community. Some will
be alcoholics, abusers, shouters, and people with mental health
challenges that make it hard for others to deal. The way to be as safe
as possible is to learn to live in the world with good boundaries. And
still, some bad things will happen to good people.

Liz, Mosaic Commons Cohousing in Berlin, MA

On Mon, May 25, 2020 at 12:45 PM frances woolison
<franceswoolison [at]> wrote:
> I am a member of a forming Canadian cohousing group. We are currently 
> establishing the Bylaws and Policies for our Corporation. One group member is 
> adamant that those joining the community as members now, and others 
> purchasing units in the community in the future, be required to undergo a 
> Criminal Records check and a Vulnerable Persons Abuse Registry check before 
> being accepted into the community or being allowed to purchase a home. Katie 
> McCamant is our consultant, and she says that she has never heard of a 
> cohousing group having those requirements. We would be interested in knowing 
> if any other communities have mandated such criteria. If other groups do not 
> have such requirements, how are children and vulnerable persons in the 
> community protected from abuse, and what would the liability of the group be 
> in case of such abuse taking place? Thank you for any input you can offer.
> Frances Woolison
> Prairie Rivers Cohousing
> Winnipeg, Manitoba
> Canada
> _________________________________________________________________
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(The Rev. Dr.) Elizabeth Mae Magill
Pastor, Ashburnham Community Church
Minister to the Affiliates, Ecclesia Ministries

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