Collective Housing Property

What is Collective Property?

Collective property is a type of property owned by a group of people. Collective forms of property are prolific across the globe. Collective property regimes exist in countries in the Global North and Global South, in rural and urban settings, and under a wide variety of political structures. This form of property has existed for hundreds of years and remains common today for many cultures, across social democracies and indigenous communities.

Property collectively owned is not an alternative to the norm: it has existed far longer than private property systems. Collective property is widely supported by governments and organizations across the world, such as in Sweden, Uruguay, Canada, India, and the United States. União Nacional por Moradia Popular (UNMP) is working to normalize and scale up the choice of collective property in Brazil through its Legal Framework for Self-Management Law.

In Brazil, the laws for tenure regularization in informal settlements already foresee the option of collective usufruct rights and collective adverse possession titles.

Collective property has the potential to provide high-quality, permanently affordable housing for those who need it most. It acts as a gateway to more opportunities, higher quality of life, and better neighborhoods. 1 

Collective ownership of property removes property from the speculative housing market, enabling permanent affordability and lowering the cost of investing assets in housing.

Since low-income housing developments receive government subsidies, it is fair with the taxpayer that the property will remain permanently affordable, protected from future commodification under the regime of collective ownership.

For housing that is built via self-management and mutual aid, collective ownership is the most suitable property regime because the common effort of sweat equity is shared by everyone. 2

It can also act as a low-risk means to build wealth for the pursuit of other educational or entrepreneurial opportunities.

All residents have a stake in the property , and all residents benefit equally from the property. Because liability of the property is shared, households have more security in maintaining the property.

Many residents use income freed up by affordable housing provided through collective property structures to attend college and eventually achieve higher-paying jobs. Collective property represents an opportunity for social mobility that would not be possible in the private housing market.

Residents frequently cite how collective forms of ownership make physical improvements in neighborhoods and contribute to a sense of security, neighborliness, and neighborhood pride. 3

Collective property can take several different forms:

Collective Property Myths

Why Does Collective Property Matter?

Collective property can offer perpetual housing affordability and security for low-income households because it holds property outside of the speculative market.

The private housing market – which is mired in exploitation and speculation – has failed to provide sufficient or adequate housing for low-income families across Brazil. As the housing deficit grows for low-income families, millions of homes sit vacant. To learn more about the housing problem in Brazil, see the housing deficit educational page .

Collective property fulfills the social function of property, which is provided for in the Constitution: “education, health, nutrition, labor, housing, leisure, security, social security, protection of motherhood and childhood, and assistance to the destitute, are social rights . ” (Brazil Constitution, Title II, Ch. 2, Art. 6 (1988)).

Private property ownership is extremely skewed: 1% of the population owns 45% of all land in Brazil , or effectively all registered private property. Land concentration is also a major issue in São Paulo, where 1% of landlords own 45% of real estate in the city.

How Can We Enable Collective Property Brazil?

UNMP’s proposed Legal Framework for Self-Management Law provides an alternative to for-profit housing through a model of collective property and self-management that protects housing production from commodification, ensuring long-term affordability and security of tenure.

Please visit the proposed bill to view and comment on the law!


[1]. Susan Saegert and Lymari Benítez, “Limited Equity Housing Cooperatives: Defining a Niche in the Low-Income Housing Market,” Journal of Planning Literature 19, no. 4 (May 2005): 427–39.

[2]. Edilson Mineiro, interview by University of Michigan Capstone Team, March 2020.

[3]. Bringing Democracy Home, ed. Nic Bliss (Commission on Co-operative and Mutual Housing, 2009), 21-40,