How Does a Residents’ Association Work?
Setting up a resident’s association has the potential to create a real difference in your community. After all, a collective voice can be much more powerful than just one voice on its own. Amongst other things, it can enable you to address issues that are of concern to your local neighbourhood, representing a much needed ‘voice’ for the community, and can improve your community’s overall quality of life. Residents’ association can also help to create a better sense of neighbourhood community, and a greater awareness of what is going on in their local area.
It can also be an effective way for tenants to express their concerns to their landlord or managing agent.
Things to take into consideration
There are different ways in which a residents’ association can be formed, but one of the most important things to take into consideration before setting up a group is the issues you want to address, such as:
- What area in your community will you cover through your association, how big will this group be?
- Will the group look at a specific issue, or look to challenge a multitude of issues
- Who will be involved?
- Are there a number of people with common issues or topics that concern them?
- How will the skills of your group be beneficial to attaining your goals?
- Will it be an informal or formal group? This will dictate how the association will be run.
- How can you get more people to get involved? You need at least three people to set up a group, gauging interest in your community is a good place to start, and seeing if locals would be interested in joining such a group.
- Will you be able to receive support and funding? This could be through local businesses as well as your local council, or perhaps through fundraising events. You could also publicise the event by producing leaflets, newsletters. It is important prior to setting up a group that you consider all the potential costs involved, such as needing to hire a meeting room.
What is the difference between an informal and formal residents’ association?
As previously stated, whether you decide to make the group an informal or formal residents’ association has an impact on the way in which the group will be run. If you are on a small budget, and you are looking to make small improvements to your community then an informal association may be the best option for your group, as relatively little costs are incurred in order to run one.
On the other hand, a formal residents’ association tends to be a little more complicated. Why? Primarily, because there are certain stipulations and criteria involved that aren’t for an informal group. Formal groups tend to be focused on more serious issues, and may form in order to represent homeowners, or leaseholders and want to be consulted on what their local council spends money in the local area. They may also:
- Exert pressure on landlords to improve living standards or to take on maintenance issues.
- Organise opposition to planning applications in the local area.
- Help to resolve disputes between residents.
How do you set up a residents’ association?
If there is enough commitment in your local area to run a resident’s association and you have agreed on what issues you will be tackling, you will need to do the following:
- Most importantly, set up an initial meeting with everyone concerned, and outline the aim of the meeting.
- Choose an appropriate time and place that is likely to be suitable for everyone.
- You should decide as a group how often you want meetings to take place according to the needs of the association. For example, some groups meet every two months, whilst others meet every quarter.
- It is incredibly important the minutes are kept of each and every meeting. This means that any decisions or actions are recorded. They should be written up as soon as the meeting is finished, and distributed to all concerned so they are aware of what has been decided. They may also be useful for future reference.
- A committee should be formed. This should be done so democratically in order for things to run smoothly.
- You will need to elect the following: a Chairperson, Vice-Chairperson, Secretary and Treasurer. This guide provided by Peabody outlines in detail what the responsibilities of each and every role in the committee should be, which could be helpful if you lack previous experience in setting up residents’ associations.
- One of the most important steps you should take is writing up a constitution for your association, as a means of agreement as to how the group will operate. This helps to ensure accountability for everyone involved in the group. If you are unsure as to how to draw up a constitution, there are numerous template ones available, these include the Federation of Private Residents Associations (FPRA) as well as the Association of Residential Managing Agents (ARMA).
- At the end of the year, it is important to set up an Annual General Meeting (AGM), which is a review of how your residents’ association is doing, as well as looking at goals for the next upcoming year. These should be held every 12-15 months.
- If you are a formal residents’ association, it is important to be ‘formally recognised’ by your landlord or management company. For landlords, they are required by law to consult with residents association and ‘recognise’ the establishment of such a group. If you find that the group is refused by the landlord, you can ask a Tribunal to make a request of a ‘recognised tenants’ association’.