How long do you think private community associations of one sort or another have existed?
The legal model actually dates back to feudal times in Western Europe. In medieval England, peasants were given land to cultivate in exchange for the ability to keep a small portion of the fruits of their labor for their own purposes. In addition to enriching the lord, these same peasants were also required to make promises to the lord to not use the soil in ways that were harmful to the collective use, thus creating a system of interdependent values that lives on in common interest ownership communities today.
The present-day American homeowners’ association and private residential community date back to the 1830s, when the concept was imported from London. Communities back then were often established with the less than honorable purposes of prohibiting certain religious activities, dictating racial makeup, and monitoring the way in which the land could be used. Thankfully, none of those purposes are sanctioned by law these days and the vast majority of communities have long since moved past the feudal system!
It is interesting, however, to learn more about how and why communities with private restrictions first emerged to best plan their future improvement and evolution.
Now, for your reading pleasure only, please try to imagine the following covenants and restrictions in that Medieval or Roman era community association:
• Horses and other livestock are not allowed to be kept in your hovel overnight.
• Legionnaire Banners may only be flown on Cesar’s birthday, Gladiator match days, or the week the Army returns from a campaign.
• All blood soaked bandages must be disposed of properly in the street sewer, not the common areas.
• All visiting Barbarians must be registered and carry their Barbarian ID’s at all times.
• No children under the age of 8 allowed in the cesspool without an adult.
• Begging not permitted in common areas between the hours of sunrise to sundown.
• All chariots must be parked on property you or your master owns.
• No carrier pigeon stands allowed on common areas.
• All meetings must be held at a Round Table.
This work by Donna DiMaggio Berger, Esq. is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 Generic License.