Masala House Bylaws

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The members of Masala Cooperative House adopt the following principles in accordance with the spirit of providing cooperative room and board to the people of Boulder, Colorado.

Non-discriminatory membership
There shall be no restriction on membership for any reason other than available room and ability and willingness to discharge duties and uphold responsibilities as house members.
Democracy
Each member has one and only one vote; each shares the house duties in as nearly an equitable manner as possible; and each shares equally in the benefits derived.
Education
The house will be a working example of cooperative living and will educate its members and others in the principles of cooperatives.
Neutrality
The house will be a member of no organization other than cooperative societies.
Expansion
By the house’s membership in other cooperative organizations, it will support the cooperative movement in general as much as possible without impairing the efficient functioning of Masala Cooperative House.

Organization

The name of the house that operates under this set of rules is Masala.

Membership

As a democratic community living collectively, Masala needs its residents to work in the collective management of the organization, and to live harmoniously with each other in shared dwellings. These demands of residents require an admission process more selective than that of typical rental housing. Admission to Masala is also generally competitive, as the number of qualified applicants often exceeds the number of available rooms and Masala seeks to recruit those individuals who are most likely to sustain and grow the organization and contribute to a healthy and vibrant community.

As a community the Masala co-op has a strong commitment to social justice. We believe that an inclusive and diverse Membership Policy is critical to achieving a strong and healthy cooperative housing organization.

Masala strives for a balanced gender ratio. While this is a goal meant to foster diversity and an accepting environment, Masala will not deny residency on the basis of an applicant’s gender.

We also value other forms of diversity and we aspire to become a housing community that includes all individuals, respecting and accepting them without bias.

We actively seek and support the participation of individuals who reflect diversity of physical & mental ability status, age, class, ethnicity, gender expression, life experience, national origin, parenthood or custody of a minor, race, religion, sex, sexual orientation and veteran status.

We will treat each other fairly and value & respect the opinions, perspectives & life experiences of all people, in our day-to-day practices, processes, policies & in the conversations that take place in & around our home. We will strive to continue to develop successful inclusiveness practices together.

  1. Potential housemates (PHMs) must be approved by the house in order to be offered residency at Masala Community Housing (Masala).
  2. Masala shall select a resident to serve as its Membership Coordinator (MC).
    1. The MC (acting as Masala's Agent) shall be the contact person for prospective residents and shall oversee the recruitment and admission of new residents. Masala as a whole shares the burden of empty rooms and non-paying residents.
    2. The MC shall advertise for available rooms on behalf of Masala. Other Masala residents may also post flyers, online notices, etc., in coordination with the Membership Coordinator.
    3. The MC shall sign leases with new residents.
    4. The MC shall sign renewal leases with current residents of Masala who are in good standing.
  3. The Boulder Housing Coalition (BHC) and Masala are equal opportunity housing providers and abide by the City of Boulder's prohibition against discrimination in housing, as recorded in section 12-1-2 of the Boulder Revised Code. The BHC and Masala will not deny housing to any individual because of race, creed, color, sex, sexual orientation, gender variance, marital status, religion, national origin, ancestry, pregnancy, parenthood, custody of a minor child, or mental or physical disability of that individual, or such individual's friends or associates. A statement explaining Fair Housing law with regard to renting will be read aloud or otherwise communicated to all participating residents before any house vote or action on an applicant. Houses shall follow consistent, fair processes for reviewing applications and accepting new residents.
  4. Recruitment and interview process. The House shall advertise for available rooms. PHMs must attend at least two house meals or other events as well as complete an application in order to be considered for an interview. After the interview Masala will make a decision on the acceptance of all PHMs. Masala also reserves the right to request additional information from any PHMs. Masala may request that PHMs meet with certain house members and/or request that PHMs attend additional house dinners in order to meet all house members before Masala makes its decision.
  5. When Masala rejects an applicant, either prior to or following an interview, each opposing resident participating in the decision shall state their reason(s) for rejection. The House must record the reason(s) but not the name of the resident stating the reason, for each rejected applicant, in the House meeting minutes. The following reasons may be used for rejecting an applicant. This list is not an exhaustive list, rather, these are the most common reasons for rejection. Masala may reject an applicant for legal reasons other than the ones listed below.
    1. The applicant has a poor rental history. Lack of a rental history will not necessarily indicate a poor rental history.
    2. The applicant has made false or deliberately misleading statements regarding their application.
    3. The applicant does not meet low-income requirements that may be in effect.
    4. The applicant has not indicated a reasonable source of income or funds for meeting the financial obligations of their contract.
    5. The applicant is believed to lack respect for other people. This may include, but is not limited to, lack of respect for other people’s belongings, safety, privacy, space, or time; racial, social, ethnic, religious, gender identity, or sexual orientation backgrounds; shared facilities, resources, or tools.
    6. The applicant is believed to be unable or unwilling to perform the duties of cooperative living, including, but not limited to, completion of labor, participation in meetings and other obligations listed in the contract. Masala will make reasonable accommodations in chore assignments for applicants with disabilities. All residents are required to contribute equitably to the operations of the co-op.
    7. The applicant is believed to lack interest in cooperative living and working to sustain and improve the cooperative.
  6. If more than one applicant is accepted by Masala for an available room, the House shall vote on the order in which the applicants will be offered the room. The House shall record the reason(s) for prioritizing each applicant.
  7. Applicants who have been accepted by the House, but for whom there are no available rooms will be kept on a waiting list for three months and will be offered rooms as they become available. The waiting list will be ordered by application date, unless the House votes to prioritize the waiting list. If the House prioritizes the waiting list it must record the reason for each re-ordering. A person will be removed from the waiting list at their request, once they are offered a room, or after three months, whichever is soonest.
  8. The MC will only disclose the reason for rejection to an applicant upon their request.
  9. Any member or applicant who believes that a law may have been violated during an application process should inform the House immediately. Any decision to reject an applicant may be appealed to Masala within 14 days. The House shall collectively revisit such decisions.
  10. Once the PHM has been approved by the house the following steps must be completed before move in.
    1. The MC shall provide the PHM with a link to the Membership Manual Wiki or at the request of the PHM, a hard copy of the Membership Manual. All members are required to read the Membership Manual.
    2. The PHM must meet with the Boulder Housing Coalition Executive Director (BHC ED) and complete the income qualifying process.
    3. The BHC ED will sign the front of the Masala lease and the PHM must take the lease to the Masala MC.
    4. The Masala MC will fill out the lease with the PHM and both parties will sign the lease.
    5. The PHM must submit their deposit and first month's rent.
  11. Once all of the above steps are completed the PHM is considered a member of Masala. The new member may move in, will be added to the house email list, and is entitled to participate in Masala's consensus-based decision making processes.
  12. The PHM shall have 2 weeks or until the start of the lease period, whichever comes first, to complete the above steps. If by that time the above steps have not been completed then Masala may offer their spot to the next PHM on the waiting list, on a first come first serve basis.
  13. The MC shall abide by the following conditions when setting start and end dates:
    1. PHMs shall first be offered contracts beginning Aug. 1 and ending July 31 of the following year. Priority should be given to those willing to sign such contracts. The Membership Coordinator may offer a shorter contract if not doing so would result in a vacancy.
    2. Successive contracts for a particular room should be drawn so they do not produce vacancies. Priority should be given to residents willing to sign contracts.
  14. Two residents may occupy the same room.
    1. Both residents must be accepted for residency and will be considered members of Masala.
    2. Only one of the two residents shall be responsible for the entire room rent and pay a utility fee, although both residents shall sign the lease. It is to the discretion of the two residents to decide which of the two of them shall be signing responsibility for rent.
    3. The other resident shall pay the current utility fee.
  15. The members of the house shall comprise the board of directors of Masala Community Housing, the Colorado Non-Profit Organization which manages Masala for the Boulder Housing Coalition.

Duties of House Members

House members are responsible for the amount of labor as described in the Masala Membership Manual.

House members are responsible for payment of bills as determined by the house.

House members must abide by the rules passed at house meetings.

House Meetings

Attendance at house meetings is mandatory for residents. Input can be provided in written form but proxies for decision making are not allowed.

Boarders are encouraged to attend meetings. They may vote on matters pertaining to boarding.

A quorum for a house meeting will be 1/2 the total number of residents. Round up in the case of an uneven number of members.

House meetings will be held weekly. A petition signed by 5 members and posted for one day may cancel meetings, or call emergency meetings.

House rules will be passed or deleted by a consensus of members present at house meetings. The house rules, as accepted, shall be duly recorded.

House Stewardships

Permanent House Stewards shall be agreed upon by consensus of house members. All house stewards serve until the steward or the house decides a new member should fill that stewardship position. A new steward must be determined for replacement of a resigning steward, within one week, or preferably within the same house meeting as the resignation.

All Stewards are responsible for regularly educating members at house meetings on matters pertaining to the stewards’ duties and are responsible for passing all materials to their successor, including computer files.

Stewards are subject to recall for dereliction of duty upon house review and consensus.

Expulsion

The house will consider all the recommendations for expulsion brought by house members. They shall gather evidence from all interested parties including the member in question, and form an opinion at an open house meeting with the member to be judged and her/his accuser present, if possible. This meeting is to take place within one week of the accusation.

The House shall hear evidence from interested persons and a defense by the accused. An outside, non-biased facilitator is recommended.

Whether the member is to keep her/his membership shall be voted on at a house meeting within one week of the hearing and will be determined by consensus.

Grounds for eviction shall include failure to perform house duties, failure to obey house rules, and failure to pay house fees or bills resulting in a debt to the house of one month’s bills, and uncooperative behavior.

Amendments

Amendments to this constitution shall be made in accordance with the following rules:

A member shall propose an amendment in a house meeting.

The proposer shall write up the proposed amendment and post it; it is subject to change by a consensus of those voting.

The amendment will be passed by a consensus of all house members after being posted not less than 7 days in its final form.

A Historical Index of Amendments (meeting notes) shall be duly recorded and attached to all copies of the Masala House Rules for the purpose of explaining the reasons behind changes made in the rules.

Consensus, Quorum and Meetings

All house decisions must be approved at a house meeting by consensus of the house members. If consensus cannot be reached, the decision will be tabled until the next meeting, or for 24 hours if it is an emergency decision. Upon this time's expiration, the house will reconvene and attempt to reach consensus again. If consensus still cannot be reached, the decision will be decided by a two-thirds majority vote.

House meetings and decisions require a quorum of 50% or more present house members. A “present house member” in terms of quorum is defined as anyone who lives in the house and is not away for more than a week at the time that quorum needs to be reached.

There will be a rotating facilitator at meetings.

There will be a 24-hour notice in the form of a posting before emergency meetings.

Ratification

These bylaws shall be in effect when they have been ratified by a consensus of all the members of the house voting in a regular meeting.

Security Deposit Return

Any member who breaks the lease agreement by moving out before the lease ends risks losing all or some of their security deposit. The security deposit will cover up to one month of rent loss.

The member moving out is responsible for any rent loss incurred by their leaving the house and this amount is not room-specific.

Debt and Payment Plan Policies

Definitions
  1. A Resident is a person who has signed a lease with Masala and the Boulder Housing Coalition to legally occupy a room at 744 Marine Street.
  2. A Payment Plan is a written contract between a Resident and Masala Community Housing, a state of Colorado non-profit corporation, which will hereafter be referred to as "Masala". A payment plan details a modified payment schedule for money owed to Masala. This contract does not replace or nullify the Resident lease, but supersedes the regular payment schedule for the period of time specified in the payment plan. All Residents have the right to request a payment plan, however their request must be properly authorized in a house meeting and documented in meeting notes in order to be valid. ORAL AGREEMENTS SHALL NOT CONSTITUTE A PAYMENT PLAN.
  3. The Three-Day Demand for Compliance or Possession will hereafter be referred to as "Three-Day Notice". This is a legal document demanding payment of past-due rent/fees. A written, signed Three-Day Notice gives the Masala Resident the choice of either paying the past-due rent or moving out within three days. Masala can serve the tenant this demand by posting the Three-Day Notice on the Resident’s door at 744 Marine Street. A copy must also be mailed the next day. In computing the three days, the first day is excluded. If the Resident has not paid the rent or moved out within three days, Masala need not accept any further payments of the rent and may file an eviction suit at the Boulder County Justice Center, on 6th and Canyon in Boulder. The time begins running whether or not the tenant discovers the Three-Day Notice is posted. Also the time continues to run regardless of whether it is a Saturday, a Sunday, or a holiday.
  4. A Verified Payment is a payment in the form of a money order, cashier’s check or electronic check.
Procedure for requesting and approving a payment plan
  1. The Resident must request a payment plan from the Masala house accountant. The house accountant will then check to ensure that the proposed payment plan is in compliance with all the terms of this Payment Plan Policy. The payment plan will then be brought to a regular house meeting of Masala.
  2. Masala must vote whether or not to approve the proposed payment plan as per the house’s voting rules. Masala may reject a payment plan request FOR ANY REASON, including but not limited to the financial state of the House or BHC, the trustworthiness of the Resident, the Resident’s current financial or employment situation, or the Resident’s payment history.
  3. If approved by consensus, a written form of the payment plan will then be signed by the Resident and the Masala house accountant, affirming that it conforms to the terms of this policy, and has been approved by a house vote.
Modification of an existing payment plan
  1. A Resident may request a payment plan modification by submitting a new request. Once approved, the modified payment plan replaces the previous payment plan.
  2. The end date of the revised payment plan must be the same as the end date of the original payment plan. Thus only the distribution and schedule of payments may be modified.
Payment plan terms
  1. Once a resident is on a payment plan, s/he no longer accrues late fees.
  2. The payment plan shall begin on the original due date of the first payment to be delayed, and shall end no later than 3 months thereafter. (For example, if a Resident requests a payment plan for January rent and/or food payment, the payments must be scheduled such that rent and food payment for January, February, and March will all be paid in full by April 5.)
  3. The payment plan shall include all rent and food payments, and any other fees due during the period of the payment plan.
  4. If a new Resident cannot pay their first month’s rent, no payment plan will be issued.
  5. A payment plan shall have no payments scheduled later than the fifth of the last month of a Resident’s lease period.
  6. Once a Resident has been issued a Three-Day Notice, that person is not eligible for a payment plan.
  7. All payments made on a payment plan must be made by “Verified Payment” (see definition above).
  8. Masala may place additional restrictions on a particular Resident’s payment plan if it finds the Resident to be repeatedly non-compliant with payment policies.
Normal rent violation time-line

All of the following timelines may only be extended by Masala, by a consensus vote at a house meeting.

  1. On the fifth of the month, rent and food payments are due.
  2. On the 10th of the month, late rent and food payments are due. Residents shall be charged a $5 late fee per payment, per day after the fifth. Then, on the 10th of the month a ten-day warning will be issued to any Resident in debt, by the Masala accountant. On or after the 10th, the names of all Residents who owe rent and food payments or late fees, at this time, will be announced at the house meeting by the house or the food accountant. (For example, if a Resident still hasn’t paid for food or rent on the 7th of the month, they will have accrued a late fee of $20, which is $5 for the 6th for food & $5 for rent, plus $5 for the 7th for food & $5 for rent. This fee amount would need to be paid to the house on the 7th of that month, along with the food & rent payments.)
  3. On the 20th of the month, the Masala house accountant will serve a Three-Day Notice to any and all Residents who do not have an Approved Payment Plan and whose debts are equal to or exceeding the "total monthly rental payment" as stated in section 5B of the individual Resident lease. The Masala house accountant will notify all Residents of Masala by email that a Three-Day Notice has been served, stating the name of the Resident who has been given the notice. At this point the Resident may NOT request a payment plan to cover the amount past due.
  4. On the 24th of the month, rent demanded by Three-Day Notice is due.
  5. On the 25th of the month, the lease of any Resident who has not paid as demanded by their Three-Day Notice will be terminated. The Masala house accountant will notify the Boulder Housing Coalition board that the lease of the Resident has been terminated. The BHC staff will inform the former Resident of the termination and require the individual to vacate the premises. If necessary, BHC staff will file an eviction suit at the Boulder County Justice Center.
Payment plan violation timeline
  1. Payment is due on the days specified in the approved payment plan.
  2. If payment is not made on a specified due date, the Masala house accountant will report that a payment was missed, at the next possible Masala house meeting.
  3. At that meeting a consensus vote of Masala Residents is required to allow the Resident-in-debt to submit another acceptable payment plan.
  4. If there is no new consensus payment plan for the Resident by the end of that meeting and the debt of the Resident is equal to or exceeds the "total monthly rental payment" as stated in section 5B of the individual Resident lease, then the Masala house accountant will immediately serve the Three-Day Notice to the Resident demanding full payment of past-due rent.
  5. On the 4th day after payment is due, the lease of any Resident who has not paid as demanded by their Three-Day Notice is terminated. The Masala house accountant will notify the Boulder Housing Coalition board that the lease of the Resident has been terminated. The BHC staff will inform the former Resident of the termination and require the individual to vacate the premises. If necessary, BHC staff will file an eviction suit at the Boulder County Justice Center.
Returned (bounced) checks
  1. The house accountant will notify the Resident whose check was returned. The Resident will be charged a $5/day late fee for each day from the day of notification until a Verified Payment is received by the house accountant. In addition, any bad check fees charged to Masala will be paid by the Resident. (For example, US Bank currently charges a $19 bad check deposit fee).
  2. Repayment is due by Verified Payment, seven days after the House accountant notifies the Resident of a returned check. On or before this date the Resident may request a payment plan to cover the amount past due.
  3. If, on the eighth day after notifying the Resident of a returned check, a payment plan has not been approved or full repayment has not been received, and the debt of the Resident is equal to or exceeds the "total monthly rental payment" as stated in section 5B of the individual Resident lease, then the Masala house accountant will immediately serve the Three-Day Notice to the Resident.
  4. On the 4th day after payment is due, the lease of any Resident who has not paid as demanded by their Three-Day Notice is terminated. The Masala house accountant will notify the Boulder Housing Coalition board that the lease of the Resident has been terminated. The BHC staff will inform the former Resident of the termination and require the individual to vacate the premises. If necessary, BHC staff will file an eviction suit at the Boulder County Justice Center.