Land trust

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Community Land Trust Brussels was among the first (modern) CLTs in Europe.

Land Trusts, and specifically Community Land Trusts are:

community-led non-profits designed to develop and steward individually owned homes and community assets such as shops and civic spaces on community owned land. CLTs balance the needs of individuals to access land and maintain security of tenure with a community’s need to maintain affordability, economic diversity and local access to essential services..[1]


Place based community-led initiatives, looking for ways to ensure affordable real estate to their members and protect it from speculative market forces, sometimes choose the legal format of a land trust to manage their real estate.

Investopedia defines Land Trust as: "a legal entity that takes ownership of, or authority over, a piece of property at the behest of the property owner."[2] Title-holding Land trusts protect landowner anonymity and keep property out of probate. Conservation land trusts are tasked with the management of undeveloped land to maintain natural resources, historical sites, and public recreational areas for future generations.

Community Land Trust (CLT) is "a private, nonprofit corporation that acquires, manages, and develops land for a variety of purposes, primarily for the production and stewardship of affordable housing, although many CLTs are also engaged in non-residential buildings and uses."[3]

Some communities prefer the cooperative model of managing their common real estate. In the U.S., there are also examples of mergers of a Community Land Trust with the Limited Equity Cooperative (LEC).[4]


Origins and history

Main concepts

Practical application in communities

Links to key examples


Land Trusts operate in a complex socio-economic environment and professionalization can lead them away from their initial purpose.

As the article Community Land without Grants and Debt[5] notes:

... the CLT movement has gone the way of mainstream community development, from grassroots organizations to professionalized nonprofits dependent on external grants, where their funders are focused more on the production of housing than local democratic control of land.
Most CLTs find they are better off supplementing their affordable housing projects with a more profitable side venture, so they also become a developer, lender, realtor, or other service provider to help pay for the CLT. This process leads the organization toward even greater professionalization, even if it helps ease the burden of the need for grant income.


Research on Land Trusts and community-led initiatives


External links


  1. Community Land Trust Brussels website
  2. [ Definition of Land Trust at
  3. Wikipedia article on Land Trusts
  4. Ehlenz, Meagan M. "Community Land Trusts And Limited Equity Cooperatives: A Marriage Of Affordable Homeownership Models?": 23. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  5. Alliance, Ecovillagers (2019-12-12). "Community Land without Grants and Debt". Medium. Retrieved 2021-04-11.