Community in Property: Lessons from Tiny Homes Villages

80 Pages Posted: 11 Nov 2019 Last revised: 3 Dec 2020

See all articles by Lisa T. Alexander

Lisa T. Alexander

Texas A&M University School of Law

Date Written: October 1, 2019


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 re-mains 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 con-temporary property law. These villages’ property relationships challenge the predominance of individualized, exclusionary, long-term, fee simple ownership in contemporary property law and exemplify property theories such as progressive property theory, property as personhood theory, access versus ownership theories, and urban commons theories. 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 steward-ship and community building in American property law and theory.

Keywords: Tiny homes, homelessness, co-housing, stewardship, property law and theory, housing law and policy, informal housing, zoning tiny homes villages, sharing economy, natural disasters and emergency housing, housing insecurity and housing instability, affordable housing, social entrepreneurship, housing

JEL Classification: D7,D71,K1,K11,K12,K30,K32,R3,R15,R21,R23,R31,R38,R52,O17,O18,O36,O38,I15,I3,I31,I38

Suggested Citation

Alexander, Lisa T., Community in Property: Lessons from Tiny Homes Villages (October 1, 2019). Minnesota Law Review, Vol. 104, 2019, Texas A&M University School of Law Legal Studies Research Paper No. 19-61, Available at SSRN:

Lisa T. Alexander (Contact Author)

Texas A&M University School of Law ( email )

1515 Commerce St.
Fort Worth, TX 76102
United States

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