By Lisa T. Alexander. Full Text.
The evolving role of community in property law remains undertheorized. While legal scholars have analyzed the commons, common interest communities, and aspects of the sharing economy, the recent rise of intentional co-housing communities remains relatively understudied. This Article analyzes tiny homes villages for unhoused people in the United States, as examples of co-housing communities that create a new housing tenure—stewardship—and demonstrate the growing importance of community, co-management, sustainability, and flexibility in contemporary property law. These villages’ property relationships challenge the predominance of individualized, exclusionary, long-term, fee simple ownership in contemporary property law, and demonstrate progressive property theory, property as personhood theory, access versus ownership theories, and urban commons theories in action. These villages mitigate homelessness, but also illustrate how communal relationships can provide more stability than traditional ownership during times of uncertainty. Due to increasing natural disasters and other increasingly unpredictable phenomena, municipalities may find these property forms adaptable and useful in minimizing housing insecurity and instability. This Article posits how localities can legalize stewardship and tiny homes villages for unhoused people. These insights reveal a new role for stewardship and community building in American property law and theory.