A tenants’ association is a group of tenants (normally leaseholders) who hold houses or flats on leases/tenancies from the same landlord on similar terms. A Recognised Tenants’ Association is one where the members have come together to represent their common interests so that the association can act on the tenants’ behalf, and which has been recognised for the purposes of section 29 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985. An association is recognised either by notice in writing from the landlord to the secretary of the association, or by application to a First-tier Tribunal (Property Chamber).
Powers of a Recognised Tenants Association
The government has introduced new legislation that is set to provide more powers for recognised tenants’ associations.
In the ‘post-Grenfell’ era, the government and long residential leaseholders are keen for recognised tenants’ associations to exert their statutory rights in respect of service charges.
Effective from November 1st 2018, the Tenants’ Associations (Provisions Relating to Recognition and Provision of Information) Regulations will ensure that residents’ associations can be involved in and represent tenants on a wide range of property management issues if they are formally ‘recognised’ to do so.
A tenants’ association that has been formally recognised, gains significant statutory rights:
- must be consulted by landlords in relation to major works and qualifying long term arrangements which are paid for via the service charge
- require landlords to disclose contact details of consenting qualifying leaseholders to the secretary of a residents’ association
- reduce the membership threshold required to form a recognised tenants’ association to 50% of eligible leaseholder
- Can represent tenants and advance their interests in relation to the service charge process
- Can seek information concerning services charges claimed and costs incurred
- Can appoint a qualified surveyor to advise on service charge matters
Forming a Recognised Tenants Association
To be most effective, a residents’ association needs to be formally recognised by their landlord. By law, landlords must recognise and consult with residents associations.If a landlord is refusing the request, leaseholders have the legal right to ask a Tribunal to grant them the status of a ‘recognised tenants’ association’. This is the term used in statute law under the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985, section 29. A tribunal will assess whether to grant recognition to a residents’ association based on the following criteria:
• The rules of the association should be fair and democratic
• Membership shouldn’t be less than 50% of those eligible to join
• Members must be paying a variable service charge to their landlord
• Tenants paying fixed rents/service charges will not qualify for membership (but they could be involved in the process informally)
• Only one vote per home will be permitted in decision making processes
• No more than one association per block will be recognised, unless there are several blocks on the development. The tribunal will also ask to see copies of the following documents before granting recognition:
• The association’s rules or constitution and elected officers
• The names and addresses of subscribing members Tribunals will normally grant a certificate of recognition for four years, and the association can apply again at the end of that period. The Tribunal also has the right to cancel recognition if it’s no longer appropriate. There’s no charge for applying to the Tribunal.
For sample documents to enable formation of an RTA, please refer to Common Ground’s Document Base.