Introduction

Recognition of residents’ associations is in Schedule 19 of the Housing Act 1980, as amended by the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 and 1987. We are able to advise on the setting up and running of a residents’ associations with this best practice guide. The term ‘residents’ is used in preference to the term tenant, as leaseholders will normally use the title residents’ association.

The purpose of a residents’ association

  • To preserve the amenities enjoyed by the lessees and residents
  • To ensure effective supply of services and rights as entitled to under the lease
  • To consult with the lessor and managers
  • To assist in securing variations of leases
  • To represent the lessees on matters of common interest

Recognition of a residents’ association by managers

  • Proposed residents’ associations should relate to a single development or scheme which has its own service charge
  • No two officers of the residents’ association should live in the same household
  • The residents’ association must be properly organised, ideally with our own ARHM model of constitution or the similar RPTS model
  • Legal recognition of a residents’ association by a Rent Assessment Committee will require that 60% of leaseholders are members
  • The ARHM code requires that managers should recognise a residents’ association with a lower figure, which represents 51% or more of units
  • This should not preclude consultation and provision of information to individual residents
  • The manager should ask for a signed list of members before recognition, not simply a list of names
  • Residents’ associations should follow an equal opportunities policy
  • Accounting procedures should be in place for monies which may come into possession of the residents’ association
  • Membership of the residents’ association should be voluntary
  • The scheme manager should not be a member or accept an executive appointment in a residents’ association
  • The landlord or manager may consider providing some financial aid for residents wishing to form a residents’ association
  • If recognition is granted the manager should agree when and how often the manager will meet representative of the residents’ association at the scheme
  • Managers should require that residents’ associations seek annual renewal of recognition and require a list of officers and a signed list of members each year
  • The manager should state that any correspondence from the residents’ association shall be signed by the secretary and no other party.

How to start

The initiative to form a residents’ association often comes from residents themselves. However the following may be considered by the manager when wishing form a residents’ association:

  • Gauge the interest of residents to ensure there are sufficient numbers willing to form a representative body
  • If there is sufficient interest, call an informal meeting to discuss the formation of a residents’ association, ensuring that the Scheme Manager is part of the process
  • Ask someone present to take notes of the discussion and any decisions made, such as who is going to carry out what action.
  • Ensure a copy is supplied to the notice Board
  • If required, organise a secret ballot so that all residents can have a private vote on whether they wish to form a residents’ association
  • Members of the residents’ association should be aware that the liabilities and debts of the residents’ association could fall on them personally
  • Residents will need to decide:
    • Name of the association
    • Objects of the association, constitution, standing orders
    • Membership fee, whether to charge and how much
    • Number of members
    • Date of initial election of committee and annual AGM

Voting Rights

It is recommended that voting rights should be restricted to one vote per dwelling. Where there are joint leaseholders or residents then the first named person on the roll of members shall have the right to vote.

Support for residents’ associations

The Tenant Participation Advisory Service (TPAS) is an independent organisation run by landlords and tenants together. TPAS provides advice, information, practical help and support to both landlords and tenants. It also provides a full local training service and organises leading conferences and services. Further information can be obtained from Tenant Participation Advisory Service (TPAS), Brunswick House, Broad Street, Salford M6 53Z www.tpas.org.uk

The Residential Property Tribunal Service publishes a free leaflet on ‘Tenants’ Associations’ which explains the role of Rent Assessment Panels in recognition of associations and a model constitution. Visit: www.rpts.gov.uk. Tel: 0845 600 3178.

Age UK are happy to give advice on setting up a residents’ association. They also give advice on suitable constitutions for resident associations. AGE UK, Tavis House, 1-6 Tavistock Square, London, WC1H 9NA www.ageuk.org.uk.

Winding up of the residents’ association

The constitution should state how the residents’ association can ‘be dissolved’ and what will happen to any funds or possessions in its ownership. For example, the association may only be dissolved at a special general meeting called for that purpose. The meeting must be advertised 14 days before the date of the actual meeting.

It is recommended that on winding up any funds should be given to members in equal proportions, be credited to the service charge account, be a gift to a charity or be used as the repayment of any grant from the manager if winding up occurs within 1 year of the grant being made.

ARHM model constitution

An example model constitution form is available to download.

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