Management structure and decision making
Lancaster Cohousing is structured as a company limited by guarantee and decision making is shared by all our members.
During the setting up phase (the period before moving in) we will operate with weekly Build and Resource Meetings, where the Build and Resource Team (BaR) meet to discuss project management issues, and make recommendations which are then presented to monthly General Meetings attended by all the members. It is at these general meetings that all decisions are taken and any powers delegated.
After the development phase a management committee will be set up to run things on a day-to-day basis, and this will consist of one member from each household. The management committee will delegate defined areas of responsibility to a series of sub-committees.
We endeavor to make all our decisions by consensus. Consensus does not mean that all members must always agree, but that all members understand the common ground between them. It is for this reason that we think consensus is important to community building as it allows the understanding of each others positions. If a consensus decision is not achieved in 2 meetings it will be voted on. If a majority thinks it's urgent it will be voted on in the first meeting.
If you would like to know more about our consensus decision making please see this Seeds for Change document.
Members will buy a long-term leasehold interest in their home (probably for 999 years) from the company. The text of the lease will clearly define the relationship between the leaseholder and the company. Most ordinary flats and apartments use this model and it is easily understood by mortgage lenders and the public.
The lease will contain a number of additional provisions over and above those found in a traditional lease. These will reflect the special needs of an ecological Cohousing development. However provisions which would make it impossible to mortgage homes will not be considered for inclusion.
There will continue to be an annual membership fee payable to the Cohousing Company. There will also be a service charge, payable per member household. Finally, there may also be an external maintenance fund, with contributions by household on a per floor area basis. The level of these fees will be set by the management committee (the community) and will depend on a number of factors such as the running costs of the communal facilities, the extent to which repairs and maintenance are the responsibility of individual householders, and the extent to which various tasks are shared between members or bought in and the presence of any other income streams. The fee will also cover running costs such as insurance, accounting and audit.