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How to set up and run a Residents Association contd.

What is a Constitution (see Sample Constitutions)

Basically, a constitution is a legal document that sets out the aims and objectives of a group and defines how the group will conduct its business. A constitution should clearly show how the group will be run, that it is open, democratic and representative, who are eligible to be members of the group and how members can influence decisions of the group.

Why Have a Constitution

It is required if the group wishes to be recognised by the Council, so that members are aware of the groups aims. It is a requirement for opening a bank/building society account in the groups name and is needed when applying for funds from grant making bodies.  Your constitution is used to demonstrate to members and others that the group is run on sound democratic principles and is accountable.

Writing & Developing Your Constitution

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 residents

  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