Fragment of Generative Code for Neighborhoods


Choosing the best form of land tenure for your neighborhood

The project, and its ultimate success, will depend on the kind of land tenure that goes with it -- both the entire neighborhood as one whole, and the individual parcels within the neighborhood. The ability of people to create their own world, and experience life and freedom, will be affected greatly by the type of land tenure or ownership which is instituted.

Common land, especially should be protected, so that the place this neighborhood creates is expected by all to remain there, in principle, for all eternity. And the individual land holdings should, if possible, not be considered as property for buying and selling, but rather as places that are held in trust, and each "owner" has the temporary obligation to take care of that part of the Earth, and nurture it. All this should be considered and discussed, and settled.

All of you together need to define the way land will be owned and maintained. The form of land-ownership is an essential part of every neighborhood.

Originally written for a 7 acre site in Austin, Texas, 1996 Available forms of land tenure for a small neighborhood include the following:
  • 1. Private ownership for each house, with common land restricted to streets that are owned and maintained by the city or county. (the conventional 20th century model)
  • 2. Condominium ownership, in which all common land is held and maintained by an association. Condominium, or condo for short, is a form of housing tenure. It is the legal term used in the USA and in most provinces of Canada for a type of joint ownership of real property in which portions of the property are commonly owned and other portions are individually owned. In Australia and the Canadian province of British Columbia, the legal term for this is known as strata title.
    Often, it consists of units in a multi-unit dwelling (i.e., an apartment or a development) where the unit is individually owned and the common areas like hallways and recreational facilities are jointly owned by all the unit owners in the building. It is possible, however, for condominiums to consist of single family dwellings: so-called "detached condominiums" where homeowners do not maintain the exteriors of the dwellings, yards, etc. or "site condominiums" where the owner has more control over the exterior appearance. These structures are preferred by some planned neighborhoods and gated communities.
    A homeowners association, consisting of all the members, manages the common areas usually through a board of directors elected by the members.
  • 3. A condominium arrangement in which most common land is in common ownership, but the private ownership includes both (a) A house or business and (b) A garden which is not a lot, but a specific place, restricted in area, and chosen to be a garden for a particular dwelling.
  • 4. A variant of 3, where the common land is effectively owned in common by a group of house owners, but where legally each owner actually possesses a normal private lot, albeit of very unusual shape, delineated after houses have been placed. Each lot has its own access from the public roadway.
  • 5. Another variant of 2 or 3. is one in which the common land is owned by an individual or Trust, not by an association of owners. Each house is sold "leasehold", but the land on which the neighborhood exists is owned by an individual or Trust which holds it in perpetutity, and charges an annual ground rent for each house that is built.
  • Additional discussions of land tenure may be found in Wikipedia.


We recommend that 2, 3, or 5 are better options, if feasible. Before taking any action, find a sympathetic lawyer in your area and consult her.