Explanation of Twin Oaks' Property Code

Basic Scheme

I. Basic Scheme
You don't pay to join. You don't get anything when you leave. The Community supports you while you're here. Twin Oaks Provides for its members on the basis of need or equality. Equality is a fundamental community value which informs the property code. We try to avoid displays of wealth which may give rise to envy. With the exceptions described below, we expect members not to use outside income or pre-existing assets during their membership in Twin Oaks.

Pre-existing Assets

II. Pre-existing Assets

A. Definition

Pre-existing assets are any property owned by a member before joining Twin Oaks. This includes personal property, real estate, stocks and bonds, and money. It includes money that was earned before joining Twin Oaks, even if payment is received after membership begins.

B. Basic Rule

Pre-existing assets remain the property of-the member. However, with some exceptions, members are not permitted to use, spend, sell, exchange, or earn income on pre-existing assets while they are members of the community.

C. Exceptions

1. Petty Personal property.

Members may bring tangible personal property to the Community for their own personal use so long as this property fits in their room or designated private storage areas. "Tangible Personal property" means "things" (like furniture, clothing, bedding, books, cassette tapes). Money and stocks and bonds are not tangible personal property. Most members have stereos; a few have personal computers. Personal bicycles are permitted. Televisions are not permitted in the Community.

2. Cars

Provisional members may store cars at the Community until they have been accepted for full membership. Unless the car has been loaned or donated to the Community, it may not be used. After the member becomes a full member, the car must be sold, stored away from the Community, or loaned or donated to the Community.

This rule also applies to other types of grand personal property (such as power tools, large machinery or other property that can't fit in a member's room). With the Community's permission, a provisional member may store such property at Twin Oaks until co becomes a full member.

3. Capital assets

Capital assets include real estate, money and investments. Any income earned on capital assets must be turned over to the Community. For example, interest earned on an outside bank account must be given to the Community. Rent from real estate must also be given to the Community.

Twin Oaks prefers that capital assets be loaned or donated to the Community. Typically, new members deposit their money with the Community as a "Member Loan." The Community returns the money to the members, without interest, when they leave. Members are also free to keep their money in outside bank accounts, donating any interest earned to the Community. Members may not spend from their capital assets, except that:

1. Provisional members may use their capital assets to tie up their outside affairs (in particular, to pay medical and dental expenses).

2. Any member may do so to pay debts that existed prior to membership (such as school loans and including payments on existing insurance policies).

3. With planner approval, members may use their capital assets to make charitable contributions, or pay expenses of children, parents or elderly relatives. Remember to ask the planners first.

4. Members may use their capital assets to pay the expenses of maintaining preexisting assets. For instance, members may use rental income to cover mortgage payments, taxes and the cost of repairs to real estate. Any income over the cost of maintaining the property must be given to the Community. All capital assets not loaned or donated to the Community must be listed in the membership agreement.

D. Inheritances. Inheritances are treated as pre-existing assets. This means that members may receive inheritance, but may not spend them while they are members (subject to the spending exceptions listed above).

E. Royalties.Royalties received during membership are treated as preexisting assets, if they are payment for work produced before member joined the Community. The Payments belong to the member, but cannot be spent during membership (subject to the spending exceptions listed above).

F. Property loaned to the Community. Property loaned to the Community is used, maintained and insured (or not) at the Community's discretion and expense. It is returned to the member when co leaves.

Income During Membership

III. Income During Membership

A. From the Community

I. Allowance. Can be spent on anything.

2. Vacation fund. Rotated by seniority. Currently $400 and members become eligible every 5-6 years, on average. May only be spent for vacation.

3. Weeds & Knots. Small grants for specific purposes, made on request of the member and based on need and availability of funds.

4. Leaving fund. Paid to full members at end of membership. Currently $50.

5. PFF. "Products For Friends." For a specified number of hours of over-quota products work, members may obtain Twin Oaks products to give away or keep for themselves. Typically, PFF is used for gifts to family and friends or to barter for other desired goods.

6. OPP. "Over-quota Products for Projects." Members may do over-quota products work to earn money on a piece-work basis for specific projects. Projects must be approved and must be for community, not individual, benefit. Certain types of trips may be funded through OPP. Check the OPP policy for specifics.

B. Outside Income

I. Accounts Receivable.

Accounts receivable are any funds due to a member at the beginning of membership. They may include debts owed to the member, paychecks for work performed before joining the Community, tax refunds, royalties for work produced before joining. Inheritances received during membership are treated as accounts receivable. Accounts receivable are treated as pre-existing assets. See above.

2. Unearned income.

Unearned income includes interest on bank accounts, dividends on stocks and bonds, income on investments, social security, disability payments, pensions, and child support for a child living at Twin Oaks. Unearned income is the property of the Community. (An exception is made for provisional members under l8, who are not required to donate unearned income to the Community.) The Community assumes responsibility for any tax liability on unearned income donated to it.

3. Earned income.

Income earned during membership is the property of the Community, except:

Vacation Earnings

a. Definition. Vacation earnings are income earned by members on vacation time and off of Twin Oaks land.

b. Restrictions on Spending. Vacation Earnings may be spent only when outside of Louisa County for at least 24 hours and only on consumable items (i.e. transportation, meals, lodging, entertainment; NOT possession to be used on the farm.)

C. Taxes. Members are responsible for the taxes on their VE.

4. Gifts

a. Ownership. Gifts are the property of the recipient. Gifts of petty personal property may be kept and used at the Community.

b. Restrictions on Spending. Gifts of money may be spent only when outside Louisa County for at least 24 hours and only on consumable items (i.e., the same spending restrictions as for VE), except that earmarked gifts may be spent on the purpose for which they are earmarked. For example, your family may give you a sweater for your birthday, or they may give you money to buy a sweater. If they give you money, but don't tell you what it's for, you can't use it to buy a sweater. (You call use it on vacation). So if you want to use gift money to buy things to use on the farm, ask your donor to earmark it.

IV. Enforcement

As with most everything at Twin Oaks, the property code is enforced through the honor system. Occasionally, suspected violations come to public attention and are dealt with through the usual community processes, such as O & I discussion and feed-back. Extreme violations may result in expulsion from the Community.