STATEMENT OF PURPOSE
The Bylaws and Declaration of the Takoma Village Cohousing Homeowners’ Association (TVCHA) establish a unit owner’s right to lease their entire unit for three years or less. They do not address the community’s need to balance the unit owner’s right to be an absentee landlord with other members‘ interests in maintaining a community in which residents know their neighbors and most residents — including tenants — are active members. The attached policy on unit leasing clarifies the rights and responsibilities established in the Bylaws and Declaration.
The leasing policy seeks to bring together two distinct yet related concerns and desires: on the one hand, we acknowledge and affirm members’ rights to lease their units, especially when employment, finances and family needs make it necessary. On the other hand, we value living together in community, among neighbors with whom we share work, celebrations and decision-making. To honor both sets of desires, the provisions of this policy do the following:
1. Clarify the Bylaws language regarding: “shall not unreasonably withhold” and “investment purposes”,
2. Limit the number of whole unit leases,
3. Establish a means for seeking tenants who are interested in cohousing,
4. Require that non-owner residents who lease a unit for more that six months become associate members,
5. Require orientations to tenants leasing whole units, and
6. Clarify the responsibilities of non-resident owners.
1. Clarifying the Bylaws Language for “Shall Not Unreasonably Withhold” and “Investment Purposes”
1.1 Clarifying “Investment purposes”: Declaration Sec. 9 and Bylaws Sec. 9.2 strictly prohibit members from owning units as investments rather than residences. This not only violates the Declaration and Bylaws, it violates the spirit of cohousing. A member may wish to live elsewhere temporarily for a number of reasons, for example, to care for a friend or family member or to fulfill a work assignment. An owner who no longer intends to be a resident at TVCHA should sell their unit. We believe that three (3) years is a reasonable time for an owner to reside away from TVC for non-investment purposes. If an owner has resided away from TVC for three (3) years, the owner needs to demonstrate their intent to return, and explain why their return is being delayed.
1.2. Clarifying “Shall not unreasonably withhold”: Bylaws Sec. 9.11 empowers the Board to grant extensions on the request of the owner. To request extensions owners must submit written requests that explain why continued ownership does not constitute investment purposes. Otherwise, the TVCHA Board will conclude that the unit is being held for investment purposes.
2. Limiting the Number of Whole Unit Leases: No more than 6 units may be leased at one time, and no unit may be leased for more than 3 of every 9 years. The board may make exceptions as described above in Section 1.
3. Seeking Tenants Who Are Interested in Cohousing: It is the community’s expectation that all tenants will fulfill the expectations of members in the work and social life of the community. We therefore expect owners to seek tenants interested in cohousing. The Community Team will keep a notification list of people who have expressed interest in buying or renting at TVC and a resource list of cohousing-friendly-organizations’ websites and listserves that carry free or inexpensive ads to attract cohousing-friendly tenants.
4. Requiring Tenants Leasing Units for More Than 6 Months to Become Associate Members.
Each tenant of 6 months or more must become an Associate Member of TVCHA. In addition, Bylaws Sec. 9.11 requires the owner to file a copy of a lease with the Board. The Board shall provide a Lease Addendum to each owner seeking to rent their whole unit that informs both owner and tenant of the responsibility of observing the community instruments–consisting of the Declaration, Bylaws, and Community Rules.
5. Providing Orientations to New Residents.
The Community Team shall be responsible for formal orientations of new residents. However, all members will be responsible for informally orienting new members. Orientation includes a wide range of ongoing interactions to familiarize new residents, including tenants, with the social, business, residential, and work life at TVC.
6. Clarifying the Responsibilities of Non-Resident Owners.
6.1 Keeping Informed of Community Business: A non-resident owner is a TVCHA member, even if absent. Members commit to keeping current with TVCHA business such as policy development and budgets, and also with community affairs such as security, HVAC maintenance, and pest prevention. Acknowledging that non-resident owners are involved in their separate households and communities, members still expect that every owner will keep informed of important community information.
6.2 Resident Liaison: A non-resident owner should consider identifying a resident owner as a liaison or local resource person for themselves and the tenant.
6.3 Adherence to Community Agreements: The owner will observe and ensure that their tenant observes the TVCHA Declaration, Bylaws, and Community Rules. Of particular relevance are Declaration Sec. 9, Bylaws Sec. 9.11 and all Community Rules.
Posted to No Objections on 2005 June 25. After several Membership Meeting discussions failed to reach consensus, Sharon Villines resolved concerns, discussed them with the Board, posted a final version for objections, and received none.
2010 — An error was discovered and corrected with notice to members: Section 2 said, “the board may make exceptions as stated below,” but no exceptions were listed. Admin Team posted a correction as a scrivenor’s error changing the policy to say, “the board may make exceptions as described above in Section 1.”