The Private Neighborhood

7 Pages Posted: 25 Jul 2004

See all articles by Robert H. Nelson

Robert H. Nelson

University of Maryland - School of Public Policy


In 2004, more than 17 percent of all Americans belonged to a homeowners or condominium association, or were part of a cooperative. This privatizing of the American neighborhood represents a fundamental development in the history both of local government and of property rights in the United States. The rise of private neighborhoods, as Steven Spiegel wrote in a 1998 law journal article, is achieving "a large-scale, but piecemeal and incremental, privatization of local government." I propose to expand this privatization by establishing a legal mechanism by which an existing neighborhood could create a private neighborhood association. It would be similar to the incorporation of a new municipality, but it would result in the creation of a private neighborhood based on a private property relationship among the property owners of the neighborhood.

Keywords: Homeowners association, property rights, private neighborhoods, associations, regulation, cooperative, condominium, municipality, rights of entry, zoning, property

JEL Classification: R52, R31

Suggested Citation

Nelson, Robert H., The Private Neighborhood. Regulation, Vol. 27, No. 2, pp.40-46, Summer 2004. Available at SSRN:

Robert H. Nelson (Contact Author)

University of Maryland - School of Public Policy ( email )

College Park, MD 20742-1815
United States
301-405-6345 (Phone)
301-718-4377 (Fax)

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