Legal Working Group Meeting, 11/03/2013

Here are my notes from our Legal Working Group meeting on Monday for your information. Present: RC, JL, CW.

These are all suggestions to be presented to the group through a workshop to get additional ideas and feedback. They are not decisions of any kind. We propose this workshop for the next Group Meeting, 9th April.

Where the rules are placed

  • Which rules are laid down in restrictive covenants in the deeds?
  • Which rules are allowed to be decided by the group?
  • Are there any topics on which the group is not allowed to make rules?
    • Since the group can change its own rules, presumably those must be declared in the restrictive covenants, to be binding forever on the group?

Shares in the Legal Entity

  • Land between houses to be owned by the Legal Entity.
    • Some organisations use a ransom strip in front of or between houses, to prevent them being bought by an unfriendly entity and knocked down to make new access routes.
  • Each property owner to have a share in the Legal Entity.
    • Whoever sells their property must sell the share at the same time.
    • Whoever buys a property must buy a share at the same time.
  • Each household may own only one share.
    • How do we define a “household”?
    • Use the definition from the Companies Act 2006 sections 252-253 for directors?
    • Then do we say that “two connected persons may not own more than one share between them”?
    • Who in the household “owns” the share? Who is legally responsible for it? Can they legally jointly own it if unmarried?
    • If we don’t have this provision, can two people in the same “household” own different properties and gain multiple shares that way?
    • If not, what happens to the share that goes with the second property? Does it still exist but is not allowed to vote, as long as the owners are “connected”?

Alterations to Properties

Allow members to alter their properties?

  • To knock two properties together?
  • To make easily-undoable changes such as painting the outside?
  • Do we allow people to build extensions?
  • To let their gardens become overgrown?
  • To allow trees or bushes to grow that block light or views from other properties?
  • To dry washing outside their houses?
  • To have parties?
  • To make noise and disturb others during the night, between certain hours, or at any time?
  • Look at the rules on conservation areas to see whether we want to adopt any of those?
  • “Research by the London School of Economics has found that people value living in conservation areas. This is evidenced by properties in conservation areas having higher prices and greater price appreciation, even after adjusting for location and other factors that affect prices. For more information on this research see Value of Conservation Areas.”
  • In general, any action that affects the group requires permission from the group, e.g:
    • permanent, unusual or disruptive activities outside of private properties.
    • excessive noise, leaks, pollution, pet fouling, intimidation.

Potential nuisances to other members

  • Do we allow pets?
  • The group can make a collective exemption to the rules for individuals?
  • Do we allow specific types of pets, e.g. cats but not dogs?
  • Do we allow dogs into the common gardens, off pathways? Regardless of whether the owner cleans up any mess that they create?
  • Some cohousing groups restrict the number of dogs or cats across the whole community.
  • We might want to stop people from owning pets which cause a nuisance to their neighbours or other members.
  • Do we allow young children? (potentially as noisy as pets)

Restrictions on property transfer

Who is allowed to own property?

  • Excessive restrictions will damage the value of property
  • Inadequate restrictions will damage the community and hence also the value
  • Do we require everyone to be CRB/DBS checked? Overly intrusive?
  • Do we interview and approve new members individually?
  • Do we allow people to rent out their houses? Under similar conditions?

Community participation

  • Do we require everyone to do some community work every month?
    • E.g. 8 hours a month?
    • Shared cooking, gardening, tidying? cleaning for less able people?
    • Make exceptions for less able people on a case by case basis?
  • Do we require people to attend any meetings?
    • Monthly? Quarterly?
  • What sanctions against people who don’t meet their obligations?

Things not regulated

  • Pet sharing, car sharing, child care sharing.
  • An enclosed area where children can play, supervised, without disturbing others might be useful? Perhaps the meeting house, or a covered or glass-walled area of the garden with childrens’ toys?

Persons connected with a director (definition)

From the Companies Act 2006, page 180:

252 Persons connected with a director
(1) This section defines what is meant by references in this Part to a person being
“connected” with a director of a company (or a director being “connected” with
a person).
(2) The following persons (and only those persons) are connected with a director
of a company—
(a) members of the director’s family (see section 253);
(b) a body corporate with which the director is connected (as defined in
section 254);
(c) a person acting in his capacity as trustee of a trust—
(i) the beneficiaries of which include the director or a person who
by virtue of paragraph (a) or (b) is connected with him, or
(ii) the terms of which confer a power on the trustees that may be
exercised for the benefit of the director or any such person,
other than a trust for the purposes of an employees’ share scheme or a
pension scheme;
(d) a person acting in his capacity as partner—
(i) of the director, or
(ii) of a person who, by virtue of paragraph (a), (b) or (c), is
connected with that director;
(e) a firm that is a legal person under the law by which it is governed and
in which—
(i) the director is a partner,
(ii) a partner is a person who, by virtue of paragraph (a), (b) or (c)
is connected with the director, or
(iii) a partner is a firm in which the director is a partner or in which
there is a partner who, by virtue of paragraph (a), (b) or (c), is
connected with the director.
(3) References in this Part to a person connected with a director of a company do
not include a person who is himself a director of the company.

253 Members of a director’s family
(1) This section defines what is meant by references in this Part to members of a director’s family.
(2) For the purposes of this Part the members of a director’s family are—
(a) the director’s spouse or civil partner;
(b) any other person (whether of a different sex or the same sex) with
whom the director lives as partner in an enduring family relationship;
(c) the director’s children or step-children;
(d) any children or step-children of a person within paragraph (b) (and
who are not children or step-children of the director) who live with the
director and have not attained the age of 18;
(e) the director’s parents.
(3) Subsection (2)(b) does not apply if the other person is the director’s
grandparent or grandchild, sister, brother, aunt or uncle, or nephew or niece.

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