Re: The popularization of the term Co-housing
From: R Philip Dowds (
Date: Mon, 24 Oct 2016 05:13:51 -0700 (PDT)
Condos, HOAs and co-ops all exist at the pleasure of State enabling 
legislation, and the definitions and rules for each vary from State to State.  
For our purposes, however, a key distinction is how much, or how little, is 
owned in common:

  —  Condos often share much in common, especially if they are urban and look 
like an apartment building.  Commonalities may include roof, walls, and other 
parts of the weather envelope; mechanical and electrical systems (like central 
heat and air conditioning); corridors, stairs, and elevators; underground 
parking; and so on.  The entire outdoors is usually a single lot owned by the 
association.  Since so much of the property value is owned, maintained and 
insured in common, annual condo fees tend to be HIGH.
  —  HOAs, in contrast, own little in common, and often look like single 
family, duplex or row house homes in a suburban or rural setting.  
Commonalities might be limited a shared private road, a swimming pool, and a 
clubhouse.  Much of the outdoors may be partitioned by imaginary lines defining 
private yards appended to different dwelling units.  Because so little is owned 
in common, annual HOA fees tend to be relatively LOW.  But each dwelling unit 
must pay its own separate costs for heat, electricity, insurance, painting and 
the like.

Lots of compromises between these two extremes are possible, and successful 
cohousing can be found in any of the models.  Best I know, however, there is 
very little State law that formally acknowledges cohousing as a use type or 
ownership type.  State law is about unit owners, landlords, tenants, and 
property rights; the States know little or nothing about “intentional 
communities”, “members", "consensus”, or other attributes distinctive to 
cohousing.  So cohousing functions in the interstices of the real estate 

Philip Dowds
Cornerstone Village Cohousing
Cambridge, MA

> On Oct 23, 2016, at 2:02 PM, Beverly Jones Redekop <beverly.jones.redekop 
> [at]> wrote:
> Our ecovillage "umbrella" includes cohousing for the residential piece,
> organic farmland, a riparian restoration zone, and a future commercial zone.
> "The overwhelming number of cohousing communities are HOA Condos or Co-ops."
> How do other stratas (Canadian term that I believe is equivalent to
> American HOA) include the fact of cohousing in your legally-filed strata /
> HOA documents? We need to follow state/provincial regulations, but these
> legal papers shouldn't mislead purchasers into thinking that it's a regular
> strata.
> On Sat, Oct 22, 2016, 8:37 AM Ann Zabaldo <zabaldo [at]> wrote:
>> Hello Ty —
>> My guess is this topic will get a lot of mileage on this list.  I’m just
>> going to address a couple of things:
>> ...

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