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Cohousing or shared housing

In recent years, cost of living sharing has become a trend in society. A wide range of needs, services or items can be shared through various services. It is probably only a matter of time before an even more sophisticated form of “sharing”, called cohousing, fully comes to us.

3 minutes of reading

What exactly is it? The principle is simple. People involved in cohousing have private homes or apartments with standard basic amenities, but they also own and share common areas together.

This could be a workshop, a common room or a large dining room. However, it also includes various tools that are not normally needed by the individual residents but are useful once in a while (a lawnmower, a projector or a sturdy barbecue). A typical cohousing project is actually a small block of single-family homes with one common larger house where there are common areas that residents share according to their needs (e.g., sitting area, game room, pool with facilities).

Cohousing from a legal perspective

The Czech legal code does not explicitly regulate cohousing. However, in principle, there are three basic options for the legal treatment of cohousing.

The first option is to hold the property, whether movable or immovable, in joint ownership. This ideally implies that the parties contractually agree on mutual rights and obligations in relation to the asset, such as the possibilities of using it or the costs of maintenance.

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The second and considerably more complex option for the legal establishment of cohousing, which is offered only for real estate, is the establishment of a housing cooperative. In this case, although the entire project actually belongs to the cooperative and not directly to the individual members, each resident member is free to sell his or her share without the consent of the others. Co-operatives are not legally allowed to block the sale of a member’s share and bind it to any conditions. For some cohousing groups, this method may not only be inappropriate because of its complexity. In fact, an ‘uninvited guest’ may become involved at any time. In general, however, this model is often used abroad. It is easier for a co-operative to finance a development as it can obtain credit more easily than a group of individuals. It then rents out the houses or flats to its members and manages the common parts.

A third option is to set up a separate legal entity (either a company or an association), which makes the admission of another member conditional on a majority decision or, where appropriate, sets up a system of pre-emption rights in the constituent document.

As interesting as the idea of cohousing sounds, we cannot expect its “massive” spread, and it is more likely to remain only an alternative to conventional housing.

In the next blog, we will discuss the legal issue of accommodation intermediation, of which Airbnb is a typical example. How does Czech law view this type of “business”? And what options does it give to the residents of a house who live de facto next to a hotel room? More in our next blog.

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Author of the article

JUDr. Ondřej Preuss, Ph.D.

Ondřej is the attorney who came up with the idea of providing legal services online. He's been earning his living through legal services for more than 10 years. He especially likes to help clients who may have given up hope in solving their legal issues at work, for example with real estate transfers or copyright licenses.

Education
  • Law, Ph.D, Pf UK in Prague
  • Law, L’université Nancy-II, Nancy
  • Law, Master’s degree (Mgr.), Pf UK in Prague
  • International Territorial Studies (Bc.), FSV UK in Prague

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