Over the past 8 years, in my position as the Estate Manager at a well-known retirement development in Chelsea, West London, I have long recognised the importance of a Residents’ Association. Residents’ Associations (RA’s) are an important asset for Customers, Property Managers, Managing Agents and Landlords. If you haven’t yet realised this, take my advice and set one up, or encourage your customers to form one.
The formation of a residents’ association is a simple process, which requires a group of interested individuals with a common interest and an agreed constitution, by which the activities and rules of the association are governed. The recognition of residents’ associations is in Schedule 19 of the Housing Act 1980, as amended by the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 and 1987. This act of law entitles RA’s to certain rights and access to information which is not typically shared, such as work invoices, detailed transaction reports, stock condition surveys and fire risk assessments (FRA). This transparent and open approach with a small group of elected members is often valued by the wider majority; seen as an honest attempt for transparency, improved communication and better relations.
When carrying our planned work or major repairs, RA’s are a great sounding board for ideas and feedback. They are often happy to ballot members for when multiple options are on the table, or similarly, they will make the final decision on behalf of their members, as elected to do so. This approach put people and the centre of what we do.
If you’re expecting to have a difficult meeting with a larger group of people (e.g. an AGM, planned work meeting, Section 20 Consultation or a discussion about on-going issues), these sometimes tense conversations can be made easier if you address them in a panel style way, with members of the RA helping to balance the conversation, taking notes and keeping focus on the topic of discussion.
For Managing Agents and Landlords, there is little administration required when working with an RA. However, it is vital that they are given suitable recognition and thanked for the work they do. Monthly or bi-monthly meetings will need to be scheduled, so that a range of topics can be discussed, such as planned works, service improvement, addressing general complaints and to confer on estate business.
From my own experience, it is easier and far more effective to meet frequently with a smaller group of people who have a vested interest in your professional goals. Working together, in a constructive way, for the benefit of the majority is a rewarding process which I can highly recommend. Don’t delay, create one today.
Simon J. Owen CIHM, Estate Manager at Anchor Hanover Group