An Introduction to Co-Housing
Knowing our neighbours and feeling that we belong to a community is important for most people. In today’s rapidly changing times, we need a place to belong; a place where we feel safe and supported. We also need a place to be by ourselves, somewhere quiet, separate and secure. Co-housing is a way to address these basic human needs.
Co-housing developments vary in size, location, type of ownership, design and priorities but share some of the same characteristics. For example, future residents can take part in the planning and design of their community and the physical design encourages a strong sense of community. Earlsgate shares the idea of Co-housing as a way for people to live together so that they can have as much community and privacy as they want.
In common with other Co-housing developments, Earlsgate shares two important characteristics:
- Participatory process: residents take part in the planning and decisions that affect the shared aspects of their community. They are responsible as a group for most of the final decisions.
- Intentional neighbourhood design: the physical design encourages a strong sense of community. With central walkways and communal facilities for all neighbours to use.
The aim of Earlsgate Co-housing development is to bring together people over 55 years of age in a safe, independent and caring community so that together, they can decide how many aspects of the community is managed.
Principles and Guidelines
The principles in this Charter offer a starting framework to address basic expectations and guide the residents in their community living as they move and settle at Earlsgate.
Needs and aspirations can change over time so residents may feel it is necessary to review these guidelines to meet those needs.
We expect to review this Charter in consultation with the residents 6 months after they have moved in and every year thereafter.
1. Privacy of Each Individual Apartment
- Each apartment is individually metered for electricity and residents can choose their own supplier. We offer a free energy and money advice service if needed.
- Residents are responsible for their own TV licence and internet provision.
- Residents have the right to live in the privacy of their home and personalise it according to their taste. They are allowed to hang pictures and fittings.
- Residents need to ask permission to carry out any alterations or decorating of their home / building.
- Smoking is not permitted in the internal communal areas. Of course, people can smoke in their own homes but we ask residents and visitors to be sensitive to the environment of close neighbours when smoking outdoors or if their windows or doors are open.
2. Principles of Participation
An important aspect for the success of this development is that residents take part in the decisions that affect the shared aspects of their community. Residents are also responsible as a group to monitor and, if necessary, revise how these decisions are implemented.
We recommend that residents apply the following principles:
- Right and duty to participate – All residents have the right to take part and influence decisions that affect their community. They should also have an active interest in these decisions and demonstrate this by supporting, to the best of their abilities, the work of residents that are more involved.
- Collective discussion – Every resident should be given the opportunity to take part in discussions and vote for or against matters that affect their community, either in person or by proxy. If an individual chooses not to take part, they accept that decisions will be made without their input and they should support and co-operate with these decisions.
- Voting – Decisions that would involve additional service charges levied from residents, or affecting the use and purpose of communal areas require a majority of 60% votes of at least 75% of all residents. For example, this principle would apply when hiring services for cleaning, grounds maintenance or security; but not to the process of rent and service charges increases to manage inflation costs.
- Delegation – Residents may delegate certain aspects of community living to a smaller group or groups of residents, like a committee. By doing so, they also agree to support the decisions made by this group where necessary. For example, residents with an interest in pets, gardening or other activities may wish to organise smaller committees to manage these activities.
- Partnership – Residents either directly or via a representative group will work in partnership with Kingdom Initiatives or other relevant organisations who represent their interests.
- Good communication – Decisions and agreements will be written and made available to all residents and the landlord. Local committees and groups will maintain good communication, reporting to other residents relevant information and making sure that decisions are followed through. Residents may choose to use a notice board or other electronic media to publish notes of meetings or communicate relevant information to all residents.
Kingdom Initiatives will offer help and guidance to the resident to form a committee and delegate tasks to resident volunteers.
You can find out more in the Earlsgate Co-housing Charter