The Reef considers the possibility of allowing investors to own units, mostly with a view to inclusion. We already have one such investor: Marcel, one of our two confesseurs, wishes to purchase a small unit and rent it, below market price, to a refugee. He already does this, out of an apartment he bought in Molenbeek; his intention is to sell that apartment and buy a unit in The Reef, where there would be more of a social fabric for his refugee tenant to integrate in. @Lee knows a couple of wealthy people that might be interested in doing the same, and is about to reach out to them. Tentatively, we would like about 5 small units, or one very large one, to be inclusive.
The process we designed for participating, however, is a highly participatory one and does not really provide for investors. So, here is a task for @reef-finance: design a process that does this, so that, when Lie talks to her wealthy friends, she can tell them exactly what happens if they agree to step in.
Tentatively, I imagine a convention to sign before we go look for a site. The convention says:
the investor wants to own an inclusive unit in The Reef
the investor commits to carrying the costs of building their unit
The Reef ASBL commits to finding the site, obtaining a permit, supervising construction.
finance would work like this: before we look for a site, the investor makes a 2,000 EUR donation to The Reef ASBL to finance the feasibility studies. Once the option is signed, the investor joins the copropriété and becomes co-owner of the site and, after construction, of the common spaces of the building. At this point, he or she behaves like everyone else: 100% of the funding for their units needs to be in locked accounts before we start construction.
Seems fine to me. Being also a member of @reef-inclusion, I think the commitments in terms of inclusion should be clearly stated in this convention.
Another concern would be the 125 € annual fee (at least if we keep the asbl and use it for day-to-day life): from my experience, it would seem logical that it is paid by the tenant; however, for the sake of inclusivity, we may wish to arrange otherwise…
Absolutely. Maybe it’s not clear from the above, but I don’t think investors should be members of the ASBL. They should be its counterparts: the convention defines mutual commitments. Investors do not pay the fee, and do not participate in decision making.
just a few thoughts / questions and perhaps this is something that we could briefly discuss during our next team meeting?:
A social investor may want to know what rent we would accept for them to charge and to what NGO’s the can let their property so I think here we would indeed need the input from team inclusion. To illustrate, in terms of pure social housing the agences immobilières sociales currently pay 485,- p.m. for an appartment with one bedroom. I think this really is the lower end and I believe there are many shades of below market rents.
To what extend would the convention be binding, i.e. if this is also aimed at institutional investors, like for instance Fairground.Brussels, Infirmières de Rue or Inclusio then I guess they would probably expect something more binding (like a prospectus).
I had not thought of this. I imagine it would be ad hoc. In the case of Marcel, for example, he is not going to work with any NGO. He has his own channels, so he will liaise directly with his tenants. Other people would make different choices, or even ask us to find an NGO for them. Where this is going is that each investor would have a fairly personalized sort of agreement with the ASBL. What stays the same is:
Investors are not expected to participate in decision-making, and as such are not members of the ASBL (unless they want to! In that case, they take on the same responsibilities with the rest of us).
However, they are expected to finance their units just as we all finance ours, and with the same timeline.
We also need to make provisions for disinvestment: speculation (just resell the former inclusive unit to the highest bidder) should obviously be prevented, but there should be contingency plans in case the initial idea does not work out - for example, the investor rents to an NGO which goes out of business five years down the line. The principle is that Reeflings get to have a say to what happens to inclusive units in The Reef. That’s more of a legal than a financial issue.
I don’t think I understand this… a convention is a contract. It is binding, though in practice enforcing one might be difficult, like with all contracts.
Hmmm, very interesting topic. I’m happy to do some thinking on this with @RichardB in January? I’ve worked quite a bit with social investors.
Some very off the top of my head concerns for the community though: I remember a question coming up in the presentation in October, someone raised the point that the dynamics will not be the same if we have “investors” that are not actually living in the units. Marcel is obviously an exception because he has a very close link with the project and there is a lot of trust there.
I also see some issues with investors then working with NGOs that then work with the tenants, and see more issues with investors getting us to find NGOs to work with (unless someone in the community is super committed to take on this responsibility of course). Has team inclusion done some kind of risk assessment about this model? Do we have examples of other co-housings that are doing this?
I think clearly setting out expectations for investors (as Richard has already touched upon) and having done our own risk assessment is key to getting this right. I also think this warrants a joint team finance and team inclusion call.
These are just some first thought but happy to collaborate (although after the holidays )
just to add some material to the reflection. there are new companies in belgium offering crowd investment schemes. like a crowdfunding for real state. i just invested in a flat in antwerpen using clubscargo supported by beebonds
It’s really great that you are all thinking about this, but I feel like it’s for Team Inclusion to take the lead on this. Otherwise what’s their raison d’être?
That being said when talking to investors - which I think are just going to be two more ordinary kind people like my dad eh - they will most probably need some help on the legal-financial side, so some sort of cross-Team task force would probably be a good idea. They are currently working on a sort of work plan from now until the end of March, so I guess you’ll hear from them soon. Works?
Sure. To get the ball rolling, it would be great if someone prepared a draft convention document for investors, that then the task force could amend, integrate etc. @VickyVanEyck, @RichardB, would you volunteer? It’s just a stub, eh, write what you are sure of (example: investors should already contribute to the operating fund with the famous 2K EUR), and leave out what you are not sure of, then the task force (which would presumably include you) will finish it. Am I making sense?
For me everything is good, but my gut feeling is that we’re going to be more efficient if we take one step back and look at the bigger picture and all the other questions and answers that we need to prepare to be able to talk to investors.
If I’m not mistaken @Sophie_Beese is going to organise a meeting of Team Inclusion at the begining of January, where they’ll make up a plan and prepare for a meeting with a cross-team task force. Does that work?
The idea of working with “private” investors was raised towards the end of the latest Team Inclusion meeting as sth simpler than approaching potential partner NGOs as of now. So, it seems the possibility that investors “even ask us to find an NGO for them” would have to be re-discussed.
I am not against “ad hoc” approaches, but I think we should set boundaries so that the units are inclusive enough.
Hey @RichardB, thank you for offering. I think Team Inclusion first has to decide on their own approach before joining forces with Team Finance. We’ll get back to you about a joint meeting after the 5th
Hello @reef-inclusion and @reef-finance, let’s get this cross-team task force going. During the last team inclusion meeting, we settled on a general brainstorming on the topic - based but not limited to these questions - before writing anything down.
And obviously, not everyone from both teams needs to be there
Hey @reef-inclusion and @reef-finance, so we have four dates with 4 people available - I guess tomorrow is a bit short notice and people might want to attend the meeting with Triodos on the 23rd, so I propose we meet on the 29th with 2 members of team inclusion and 2 members of team finance