The Community Land Trust Toolkit of Legal Documents provides information for starting a Community Land Trust. It includes background materials, by-laws, articles of incorporation, lease agreements, and associated documents.
Section I: Background Materials – The rationale and history behind creating a Community Land Trust.
Land: Challenge and Opportunity by Susan Witt and Robert Swann Online | PDF
An introduction to re-thinking our relationship to the land, using the Community Land Trust as a tool. Discusses various uses of a Community Land Trust and how different community organizations can cooperate to effectively initiate community land use planning and create affordable access to land for housing, farming, retail sites, appropriately scaled manufacturing sites, historic preservation, and retaining the diverse characters of our Main Streets.
Regional Responsibility for Farm Land by Susan Witt Online | PDF
Clarifies the role of a community land trust in preserving farm land, and points to the potential for community land trusts and conservation land trusts to work together.
Land Trusts as Part of a Threefold Economic Strategy for Regional Integration by Robert Swann Online | PDF
Swann’s threefold strategy includes community land trusts, community development corporations, and community money. Includes a discussion of key reasons why community land trusts are advantageous in a strategy of regional decentralization.
The Community Land Trust: A Guide to a New Model for Land Tenure in America, 1972 by Bob Swann and others PDF.
Land, Land Trusts, and Employment by Robert Swann Online | PDF
Swann disputes Keynes’ approach to economic management, and offers the community land trust as a more effective vehicle for increasing employment in a region.
Section II: Founding documents for the Berkshire Community Land Trust and the Community Land Trust in the Southern Berkshires
Berkshire Community Land Trust Bylaws Online | PDF
Incorporated in 2015 BCLT is a 501c3 tax exempt non profit corporation. Its purposes include education, preservation of natural resources, historic preservation, and affordable access to land for housing, retail, appropriately scaled manufacturing, and maintaining the character of our Main Streets. Its tax exempt status prohibits giving equity to leaseholders, so it has partnered with the Community Land Trust in the Southern Berkshires as a sister 501c2 title holding company to hold land and manage the leases on the land.
Community Land Trust in the Southern Berkshires Bylaws Online | PDF
The CLTSB was incorporated in 1980 as a simple not-for-profit organization without federal tax-exempt status. Over the years CLTSB partnered with tax-exempt organizations to raise funds to purchase land and lower the cost of housing on the land. In 2015 CLTSB organized BCLT, a sister tax-exempt organization. In 2017 CLTSB applied to become a 501c2 title holding corporations for BCLT. Gifts of land and gifts of monies to purchase land go to BCLT which determines a land use plan for each site which incorporates ecological and social goals (organic farming, workforce housing, green building for instance). The land is then turned over to CLTSB to lease and manage in accordance with the land use plan. At the end of the year, all income minus expenses must be turned back to BCLT to enable it to acquire additional sites and serve a broader number of leaseholders. This combination of organizations facilitates community land holding that is broad-reaching and flexible, and able to achieve the land reform objective envisioned by Bob Swann and other original founders of the movement.
Community Land Trust in the Southern Berkshires Articles of Incorporation Online | PDF
Originally incorporated in 1980 in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, current Articles of Association filings may require more information. See BCLT above for an example.
Model Residential Lease used by the Community Land Trust in the Southern Berkshires Online | PDF
This is based on leases used by the Jewish National Fund and modified over the years within Massachusetts Law. Consult with your local lawyer for application to your local laws. The object is to provide leaseholders with ownership of all buildings and other improvements on the site while maintaining ownership of the land itself within the Trust. The resale restrictions call for the leaseholder to retain the current replacement value of improvements on the site, adjusted for deterioration, without capturing the speculative land value.
The lease includes an Addendum for the benefit of an institutional mortgager of the buildings on leased land. It allows an institutional mortgager (as distinct from a mortgage through an individual) to be free from resale restrictions in the event of a foreclosure. There is also ample provision for the CLT to correct any default before foreclosure.
Section III: Forest Row — Model for Affordable Housing History and legal documents for Forest Row.
Forest Row Land Use Plan PDF
This model is for a multiple housing site, but the same detail would be used even for a single family site to show the maximum use intended for the site. The Land Use Plan is the heart of a lease agreement. Individual homeowners at Forest Row lease the space around their home privately and then lease the common areas together with the other residents of Forest Row.
Forest Row Homeowners’ Agreement relative to use and upkeep of common areas Online | PDF
The agreement puts financial limits on common improvement costs so that individual homeowners are assured they will not be expected to pay outside their means.
Section IV: Indian Line Farm — Model for Farmland Preservation that provides equity in improvements to the farmers. Background articles and legal documents.
A New Lease on Farmland: Assuring a Future for Farming in the Northeast by Susan Witt Online | PDF
A guide to conservation land trust members to ensure that the farmland their organizations holds in a trust is used productively over the long-term.
From Activism to Agriculture by Judith Monachina, Special to the Berkshire Eagle PDF
From Farm to Front Door by Mark Hawthorne, American Chronicle PDF
Eating for Your Community by Robyn Van En Online
A report from the founder of CSA on the origin of CSA, the first CSA farm, and community support in action for success.
Farmers Alexander Thorp and Elizabeth Keen describe the Indian Line Farm lease agreements at the 2007 Building Sustainable Local Economies training seminar at the Schumacher Center’s Library. Online
NPR’s StoryCorps Interview with Frank Lowenstein, Susan Witt, and Al Thorpe about the history of Indian Line Farm on Saturday, August 8th 2015 at the Great Barrington campus of Berkshire Community College. In the 1990s Lowenstein suggested forming the partnership that would end up saving Indian Line Farm. Online
Indian Line Farm Lease Agreement Online | PDF
Based on leases used by the Jewish National Fund and modified over the years within Massachusetts Law. Consult with your local lawyer for application to your local laws. The object is to provide leaseholders with ownership of all buildings and other improvements on the site while the community land trust retains ownership of the land itself. The resale restrictions call for the leaseholder to keep the current replacement value of improvements on the site, adjusted for deterioration, without also capturing the speculative land value.
Indian Line Farm Addendum to the Lease Online | PDF
This addendum is for the benefit of a mortgager of a building on leased land. It allows a mortgager to be free from resale restrictions in the event of a foreclosure. There is also ample provision for the community land trust to correct any default before foreclosure.
Indian Line Farm Land Use Plan PDF
Details the tillable land, buffer areas, and other uses of the land. It reflects the combined ecological, community, farming, and private homestead interests of the partnership.
Indian Line Farm Land Management Plan Online | PDF
Developed in cooperation with the farmers, the management plan sets the requirements for crop and livestock production to ensure that the land stays in use and is farmed in accordance with organic standards.