Re: Sample Rules and Regulations
From: Sharon Villines (
Date: Tue, 23 Feb 2021 09:14:18 -0800 (PST)
I totally agree with Diane and left her post appended so anyone who didn’t read 
it will read it. Resolving all (or even some) of the difficult issues before 
move in is impossible because you don’t know what the difficult or even the not 
difficult issues are. 

Certainly you don’t know enough to specify details and enforcement. 

Discussions about principles and concerns are important. A household with a 
favored pet is not likely to make any commitments without assurances that their 
pet would be allowed in their private unit, or be grandfathered in if there are 
more restrictive policies. But a guiding principle that private units are 
private as long as behaviors or conditions respect the privacy of other units 
(noise, fumes, etc.)

A person with allergies would be hesitant to commit unless they knew the group 
generally understood and accepted allergies as a physical condition that would 
be resolved in ways that would allow the person to use the common areas. But 
before move in is not the time to negotiate a list of which plants can be 
planted and which magic markers used in the common house.

Some basic governance issues have to be resolved in order to file Bylaws and 
other legal documents. Will you use consensus decision-making? Will you have a 
board? What will their duties be? Who makes what decisions? All this will begin 
changing after move-in as you work with your experiences but it is good to know 
whether the group members generally favor democracy. Governance is a process of 
steering and making corrections, not setting all the rules in stone. 

But people will be equally fearful of a group that refuses to discuss any 
principles before move-in. Certainly the principles of cohousing. Rules are 
often less important than the spirit in which they are made. Exploring the 
intention of the group is important. But that will change too.


> On Feb 23, 2021, at 8:58 AM, Diana Carroll <dianaecarroll [at]> 
> wrote:
> Ed Sutton says "I strongly recommend that cohousing groups undertake
> drafting clear and difficult policies before building and moving in."
> We (Mosaic Commons, Berlin, MA) got this advice and followed it, and had a
> lot of policies around "hot topics" in place before we moved in, some even
> before we had land.
> And...I can't really recommend it as whole-heartedly as others recommended
> it to us.
> We spent a LOT of time and emotion on rules that turned out to be
> inapplicable to the site we found. We worked hard on compromises between
> people with strong feelings on multiple sides of issues -- and then some or
> all of the stakeholders in that issue didn't move in. We found paths that
> reflected the will of the group, and then the makeup of the group changed.
> And we completely failed to anticipate which things would turn out to be
> really controversial after move-in.
> I guess I would say it's not a bad idea to get started on "hot topic"
> policies but don't spend huge amounts of time, energy and social capital on
> them like we did.  (It took us six months to decide on a pet policy that in
> the end didn't meet our needs after move-in.)
> "Once a loving person has begun feeding feral cats, it is too late to write
> a pet policy."
> We spent 6 months on a pet policy that didn't mention feral cats once.  It
> didn't occur to us.  So had this turned out to be an issue, we would have
> had to discuss it. It's just not true that it is "too late to write a
> policy" if you didn't address it before move-in.  Fortunately that
> particular thing hasn't been a problem for us, but it certainly could have
> just cannot possibly anticipate all the things that turn out to
> be troublesome, so you *must find a way to deal with them in real-time. *
> Diana
> On Tue, Feb 23, 2021 at 8:28 AM Ed Sutton via Cohousing-L <
> cohousing-l [at]> wrote:
>> Takoma Village and Mosaic Commons have posted excellent examples of Rules
>> and Regulations.
>> I strongly recommend that cohousing groups undertake drafting clear and
>> difficult policies before building and moving in.
>> Once conflicting parties have dug in their heels and people have taken
>> sides, it is very hard to establish a conflict resolution protocol!
>> Once a loving person has begun feeding feral cats, it is too late to write
>> a pet policy.
>> In consensus process, procrastination can be weaponized and a history of
>> avoidance becomes the community precedent/common law.
>> And in many cases, once someone has purchased a home, the community has
>> little or no legal recourse to enforce community rules or consensus
>> decisions.
>> It is very important that people considering moving to a cohousing
>> community read and agree to clear descriptions of expected behavior before
>> buying in.
>> Ed Sutton
>> Eno Commons
>> Durham NC
>>> ----------------------------------------------------------------------
>>> Message: 1
>>> Date: Sun, 21 Feb 2021 09:29:54 -0700
>>> From: pam gilchrist <pamgilchrist1 [at]>
>>> To: Cohousing-L <cohousing-l [at]>
>>> Subject: [C-L]_ Sample Rules and Regulations
>>> Message-ID:
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>>> Sand River Cohousing is interested in seeing what other cohousers have
>>> developed for Rules and Regulations.
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