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What is a tenants' association?

Joe Minihane
Written by  Joe Minihane
Jonathan Leggett
Reviewed by  Jonathan Leggett
5 min read
Updated: 25 Apr 2024

Find out what a tenants' association is, whether you can join one and what rights a tenants' association affords

A tenants' association, also known as a TA, is formed when a group of leaseholders in the same block or estate come together to represent their joint interests to the property’s landlord.

Representatives act on members’ behalf and can negotiate over issues such as service charges and repairs.

Who is eligible for membership of a tenants' association?

To become a member of a tenants' association, you’ll need to live in a block where all leaseholders make similar, variable service charge contributions that are set by the landlord.

Those paying fixed charges are not eligible. You must also hold a long lease from the same landlord.

The individual landlord or directors and managers of a company landlord cannot join. Neither can tenants of shops or offices.

woman using laptop

What is a tenants' association’s role?

A tenants' association has a key role in communicating the interests and needs of leaseholders to the landlord, whether they are an individual or company.

Elected representatives of a tenants association will be able to:

  • Boost communication between the landlord and tenants

  • Resolve any disputes that arise

  • Ensure rights of your lease are maintained properly

  • Negotiate around the service charge, potentially leading to savings for tenants

Must a tenants' association be recognised by a landlord?

To gain full rights, a tenants' association must be recognised by a landlord.

Otherwise, it falls under the category of a residents group which, while still a good idea for bringing leaseholders together, does not have the same legal standing.

How do you set up a recognised tenants' association?

Setting up a recognised tenants' association requires time and dedication. Firstly, you need to find out informally whether there is sufficient interest within your block or building to set up an official TA.

If so, you need to start an informal committee and draft a constitution. You can do so with the help of the Federation of Private Residents’ Associations (FRPA).

It is then incumbent on the committee to tell all leaseholders about the plans for a TA, sending out the draft constitution and plans for a meeting, from which a set of minutes should be distributed to all leaseholders, whether present or not.

60% of eligible leaseholders must become members in order for the TA to be recognised.

If there are enough leaseholders keen on joining a TA, you’ll then need to elect a committee.

At the very least this will require a chair, treasurer and secretary, each one elected by secret ballot. One vote is available to each flat or house.

Once the committee is formed, an annual fee should be agreed to cover simple costs, such as stationery and postage fees.

It’s imperative you hold an Annual General Meeting (AGM) and regular meetings in between to discuss any issues.

What problems might I encounter in getting recognition for a tenants' association?

If you notify your landlord of the formation of a tenants' association and have the requisite constitution and committee, they should recognise this without any issues.

However, if they refuse or withdraw recognition without giving six months' notice, you can apply for formal recognition via a First Tier Tribunal (FTT) via the government website.

A tribunal will then contact all interested parties and begin the process of recognising the TA.

There are no initial costs and a FTT does not tend to award costs against the losing side. Be sure to check lease agreements as landlords may be able to claim any costs against the service charge.

Once you have FTT recognition, the certificate issued will last for up to four years.

What are the rights of a recognised tenants' association?

There are some core rights which make forming a tenants' association a good bet if you’re looking to deal better with your landlord. These include:

  • Inspecting accounts and receipts to ensure any charges are not too high

  • See annual service charge expenditure

  • Go over any insurance policies and inspect documents

  • Being consulted regarding the appointment of any managers by the landlord

  • Engaging the services of a surveyor for service charge advice and any building concerns

  • Suggesting contractors to carry out any work that is required

What’s the difference between a tenants' association and a residents’ association?

A residents’ association differs from a tenants' association in the respect that the latter does not require recognition and the fact that all residents can be members, regardless of whether they are paying variable or fixed service charges.

A residents' grouping can take care of social matters and smaller issues, while a TA has greater powers to help fix any problems within a block or building, as well as negotiate directly with the landlord.

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