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Housing cooperatives now defined by decree

A new decree sets the rules for creating and managing cohousing communities — intentional groups of co-owners. These housing cooperatives are considered legal entities, enabling people to come together to design, build and run their housing groups.

In 2014, the Alur law — law on access to housing and renovated town planning — officially recognized housing cooperatives for the first time. Recently, a decree published in the Journal Officiel — the country’s official publication — on December 21, 2015 specifies these entities’ operating rules.

Cohousing structures are a form of housing allowing groups of residents to come together and form intentional living communities. These are created, planned and managed by residents who also share activities and common facilities, such as laundry and childcare for instance. They may also decide to live by common principles and agreed terms, often around ethical, environmental and social values.

The new official text (decree n° 2015-1725) defines renting modalities within the housing cooperative, options for the sale or donation of shares within the cohousing unit and the conditions for a member’s withdrawal. The decree also provides for low-income housing associations, work insertion agencies and other joint venture companies to be included in these new housing structures.

“The partners […] are given the use of a unit representing their share, with the obligation to make it their primary residence in order to respect the non-lucrative goal of the structure,” states the official text.

This spring, this text will be supplemented by two additional decrees, according to the Housing Ministry. The first will determine the nature and conditions of a residence’s completion guarantee and the second will cover how residents’ participation in the building’s construction will allow them to become stakeholders in the cohousing community.

Participatory housing projects are fairly new to France, gradually springing up in the past two years and only gaining legal status in 2014. According to the Habicoop association, the next challenge for housing cooperatives is the creation of financial tools to aid their development. Habicoop’s website reads “ultimately, a growing share of the French housing stock could adopt this structure, replacing current urban segregation with social diversity.”

Photo credit: Wikipedia / Lamiot

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