Establish your terms
The process of establishing your terms really started with your efforts to identify what you want.
The terms evolve from the partners discussing their wants and deciding what will be the best process to manage the co-owned property during the immediate and long term expected future as well as in cases of unexpected events or circumstances.
Like most things, we believe an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. We think its helpful to think about any possible challenges early on and make as many decisions as possible. This will provide you with established parameters both parties agree to and feel comfortable with.
You can use the GoCo Terms checklist as a guide for discussion with partners.
We believe the top 5 things to discuss and think about include:
1. Your decision making process
It is important to agree upon how decisions will be made so that when disagreements occur, the group can move forward in a constructive way.
Deciding early on if you will you vote on solutions or work towards consensus, if you will pursue mediation or arbitration in important areas of disagreement will help you minimize conflict and increase your future success.
2. Ownership over key areas of work
Like anything, it is important to have clarity over who will own key pieces of work. This helps avoid confusion. Also, establishing a mechanism to track and value everyone’s time investment will help ensure that individuals do not start to feel resentment over their contribution. You can use GoCo’s Time contribution template to help you.
3. Process for managing expenses
Expenses will come up, both expected and unexpected. As co-owners you will have to agree on the best process to manage and pay for these. Some ideas to think about include having a joint account, establishing a reserve fund for unexpected expenses, assigning an owner to pay bills and agreeing on a monetary threshold for expenses before they need to be discussed with the group.
4. Communication process
It has been said that “When communication starts to fade, everything else follows”. You want to ensure that your partner relationship keeps working smoothly and so you want to set up mechanisms to make sure meaningful communication is happening. One idea is to set up regular house meetings. These can be both work and fun. You can have an agenda, discuss the all the house details and then have some nice wine.
5. House Rules
This involves ensuring all partners are on the same page in terms of how the house should be managed and used. It can include everything from what is acceptable use for the communal areas to temperature of the house. Agreeing on the items in advance will ensure that there are fewer conflicts later on.
When I set out on my journey of co-ownership, I had no idea really what my terms should have been.
Now that I have had many conversations with folks considering creating some form of intentional ownership structure I understand the variety of concerns and questions people have considering this move.
GoCo wants to ensure that your concerns and considerations are heard and that you have mechanisms to address them.
Legal agreements need to be made a priority and set out in ways that are completely understood by all parties involved.
Basically co-ownership requires some commitment to working with others - to be able to develop and agree on an approach for household management that works for all parties.