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Setting up a tenants' or residents' association

If you want to improve something about your building or local area, you can join or set up a residents’ association.

If an association only includes people who rent their home, it can sometimes be called a tenants’ association.

You could get support from the council or your housing association if you rent from them.

What a residents’ association is

A residents’ association is a group who work together to improve their local area. An association can:

  • challenge antisocial behaviour

  • represent views to a landlord

  • protest against planned developments

  • campaign for shared community spaces, like play parks or shared gardens

Who can set up a residents’ association

Any group of 3 or more people can set up a residents’ association. Usually membership is for people who are 16 or over.

An association can include people who:

  • rent from a private landlord or letting agent

  • rent from the council or a housing association

  • own their home

They can be people who either:

  • live in the same tenement or block of flats

  • live in the same street, estate or local area

  • have the same landlord

Check if there’s already an association in your area

Check local notice boards in places like libraries or community centres. You can also check on local social media groups.

If you rent from the council or a housing association, ask them if there is a tenants’ association you can join.

If there’s not, you can set one up yourself.

How to set up a residents’ association

Arrange a public meeting. Advertise it locally, in places like:

  • libraries

  • community centres

  • GP surgeries

  • post offices

  • local groups on social media

Decisions you'll need to make

At your first meeting you should decide on:

  • the aims of your association

  • criteria for membership

  • what geographical area you’ll cover

  • where you’ll hold meetings and how often

Once you agree on these things, write them in a document and sign it. This is sometimes called a constitution. It should show that your association is:

  • democratic

  • accountable to the members

  • open to everyone in the community

Who to include

At your first meeting, establish a committee. This should include:

  • a chair, who’ll lead the meetings

  • a treasurer, who’ll handle money

  • a secretary, who’ll tell members about meetings and association business

Ask people for nominations then hold a vote to elect each role.

Encourage people to get involved

It’s important everyone feels included, so that you properly represent your community. Try to:

  • arrange meetings at a time that suits most people

  • let everyone express their opinion and respect their views

  • challenge discriminatory language, such as racist or sexist comments

  • provide an interpreter for anyone who needs it

Check if you can get funding

Some councils provide funding for community groups. Contact your council and ask what’s available.

You can also search Funding Scotland for community grants in your area.

Working with the council or a housing association

If your association includes tenants of a council or housing association, you can choose to register your association with them.

If you register, the council or housing association must consult you on:

  • rent increases

  • housing conditions

  • changes to their management policies

Before you can register

Usually your association will need to:

  • have members that rent from that council or housing association

  • have a publicly available constitution

  • keep proper accounting records

  • properly represent the views and interests of your members

Your local council usually has a tenant participation officer. They can help you get your association ready to register.

If your registration is refused

If the council or a housing association refuse to register your association, you can appeal.

You should get information about the appeals process when you apply.

If your appeal is unsuccessful, you can appeal to the Scottish Housing Regulator. For advice or help appealing a decision, contact the Tenants Information Service.

Last updated: 17 March 2023

Housing laws differ between Scotland and England.

This content applies to Scotland only.

Get advice if you're in England