Residents’ Associations and Action Groups

Tenement, flat and shared villa living can run more smoothly and enjoyably through communal activity. Consider issues like:

  • shared gardens – maintenance of planting, lawns and fixtures eg railings
  • roof and guttering surveys and repairs
  • upkeep of back-lanes including fences, walls, gates, rubbish

Tackling these tasks in common can:

  • reduce costs
  • facilitate management tasks – deciding on courses of action, employing contractors, paying bills
  • “terrace-wide” approach to repair and maintenance maintains integrity of what may have been planned as a single entity
  • socially, a group can foster a sense of community which can prove real bonus (why not hold an annual garden party?)

Unavoidable tasks (eg roof repairs), as well as less urgent (eg clearing up), can both benefit from this approach.

Communal gardens in front of terraced property – responsibility for upkeep is usually specified in title deeds as a joint activity of all proprietors.

Formal and informal models of association are in use in the West End. The first, an “unincorporated association” may be ok as a vehicle to share information and perhaps¬†undertake appropriate lobbying – but if collection and payment of large sums are involved, it’s a risky proposition…

For property-management-type activities, formal incorporation as a limited-liability company can be prudent Рdebts are not then the responsibility of any individual; on the other hand, an annual account and annual return will need to be lodged at Companies House, Directors will need to be registered, etc which may incur financial and legal costs. You would also need to establish your exact powers as laid down in the title-deeds of the properties involved. If you feel you need to form an incorporated association, it may be best to seek legal advice.

FGW has devised a template for an unincorporated association. You’ll need a set of office-bearers – chairperson, treasurer, secretary and membership secretary. You’ll need regular meetings (eg twice yearly), with minutes of discussion and decisions. A bank account may be required; you will need to investigate which bank(s) can provide a suitable account, and it may take some time to set up signatories etc.

Effective running of meetings is a skill about which much has been written, both in books and on the web. A few pointers:

  • prepare an agenda, and ensure discussion is clearly focussed on this.
  • record a minute of main points of discussion, together with clear action points for each item explaining what is to be done, by whom, and within what timescale.
  • As well as listing attendees and apologies, it’s useful to list all those eligible to attend (eg owner-occupiers, non-resident owners; tenants) – this clarifies current membership for all, and can be a useful future reference as properties change hands.try to make best use of everyone’s abilities – you may have members with invaluable specialisms.
  • use social events to play a part in smoothing the way and to reduce any possible conflict.