Preparing a Constitution

How to set up and run a Residents Association contd.

See the latest The Active Resident Vol 2, Jul 2016-Mar 2018 (16 pages)
(please give your feedback here) for more about Constitutions

What is a Constitution (see Sample Constitutions)

A constitution is an important document which should be formally adopted/agreed at the public meeting when you set up your association. It takes into account what your association intends to do during its first year, and makes provision for possible future developments of the association. 
It is a legal document which, once adopted, requires a formal procedure to alter it.  The constitution states the intentions of your association to work for the benefit of the whole community it represents. It indicates to statutory and voluntary bodies that the association is open, is acting in good faith and intends to work in a clear and business-like way.

Writing & Developing Your Constitution

Once the decision has been made to form your residents' association, you will need to prepare your constitution:
  • to state how your association is to be structured
  • to detail the safeguards needed to ensure that it operates fairly on behalf of the whole community
  • as a basic requirement to apply for funding (For example, a small seeding grant from a district council or larger amounts from grant making trusts will require the submission of the constitution to confirm that the association is genuine.

Each group is different; therefore it is important that the constitution reflects the aims of local people that the group seeks to represent. You may wish to adopt a ‘model constitution’ used by other groups without first establishing what is wanted or needed by your particular group.

It may also be useful to draw up job descriptions for committee members so that there is no misunderstanding later on. Having formed your steering group, identified your aims and made contact with your local housing representative (where applicable), you should give some thought to developing your constitution and standing orders. 

These are really just lists of rules and regulations governing how your Association will conduct its business. Bear in mind that to be recognised by the Council, a constitution should include the following:

1.  The Association’s name

2.  The area to be covered

3.  The aims of the association

4.  An equal opportunities statement

5.  How the Association will provide information to members

6.  How to make changes to the constitution

7.  Membership details

8.  Information about meetings

9.  Your committee

10. Winding up procedures

Further things you might like to consider when writing your constitution are:

1.  Will you charge a membership fee?

2.  How old must a tenant be to become a member?

3.  Will your Association be for tenants or tenants and residents?

Many points will surface as you discuss your proposed constitution with your steering group and you may wish to involve us in of the early stages of setting up a tenants/residents association.

Calling a Public Meeting (see also Preparing for a Meeting)

Any of the following options can be used to call a public meeting:

  1. Call an open meeting and invite all reside nts

  2. Find a like-minded group of friends and neighbours and invite them round for an informal chat to gather ideas

  3. Knock on doors to gauge opinion on the sort of response there would be towards setting up a residents/residents association and what issues people want the   association to tackle

  4. Send out leaflets, put up posters, set up a steering group, or issue a survey stating what you are concerned about and asking for opinions



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