As in all aspects of life, disagreements, arguments and conflict will inevitably occur. Groups should prepare for the complexities of collaboration when they form, and know what to do when issues do arise.
What if I don’t like who I’m living with?
Small collaborative housing projects are typically geared to intergenerational families or small groups of friends, so you’ll probably know each other well. However conflicts can still arise in an environment where spaces and things are shared. To give your group the best chance of getting along, there are a couple of things you should do.
First, accept that conflict will arise, and prepare everyone with the skills to deal with conflict effectively. Second, have strong processes in place for working through disagreements and resolving conflict. Finally, make sure a clear process is in place for people to leave, or should conflicts be unresolvable.
Managing disagreements and resolving conflict
The collective decision-making of collaborative housing creates more opportunities for disputes to arise, and so new skills are required. Many communities work on developing skills in conflict resolution and respectful communication, as well as creating formal processes for discussing and resolving grievances that may arise.
What if a solution can’t be found?
If conflicts are unresolvable, it is important to have a clear process for people to leave the group. This may be as simple as ending a tenancy or selling a property, but can be more complicated in some company and cooperative housing ownership models. Tenants in common need a legal co-ownership agreement that addresses such issues. Be sure to seek legal advice on what the options are before you set up your community.