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Issue No. 109 Summer 2014


Federation of Private Residents’ Associations Newsletter


5


parts only and therefore would not normally be too onerous. This is also available on the members area of the FPRA website.


Q A


New Constitution I am secretary to our residents’ association. The retirement village has 151 properties, cottages and apartments with 220 members when fully occupied. The association has grown rapidly and in late 2012 adopted a new more democratic constitution. We now recognise that we need to organise ourselves more efficiently. We believe we ought to have formal job descriptions for the three officers and committee members and formal terms of reference for the main committee and any sub-committees. Can you provide any templates for any of these please? It feels as if we are going back to work but we believe that we now need to formalise what to date, has been acceptable not to codify. FPRA Hon Consultant Shula Rich replies: If you don’t mind my saying so, really well done for having so many members and such interest, and for the co-operative and democratic “feel” that you have given the constitution and membership rules. You may know that for a recognised residents’ association, there is a standard constitution which has been drafted by Government and is available from the FTT (which used to be the Leasehold Valuation Tribunal) and also, guidance notes from FPRA.


If you were denied recognition by the freeholder and had to apply to a Tribunal, you might have to adopt the standard constitution to ensure recognition. However, as far as I can see you are recognised, so there is no problem. If I’m wrong and you are not recognised, and the freeholder denies recognition, then please come back to us for further discussion and advice. For a legally recognised residents’ association, under the Government constitution you: a) may not have tenants as members, ONLY the leaseholder. b) each flat has one vote, no matter how many members that flat has.


c) the member first on the list represents and votes for the flat d) there is no such thing as an associate member. You may create these, but they should also have no right of admission to any meetings


e) you must never allow the freeholder or agent any voting or attendance rights – although of course you may invite them, as you may also invite and welcome tenants to your meetings. f) please think carefully about accepting funds from the freeholder


g) audit is not needed and can be very expensive – even “small companies” are not obliged to have it. h) consider decision minutes only – minutes can get very involved and sometimes encourage inertia. Think about doing just short decision minutes only with action points highlighted


You can of course run the association in any way you wish, offering membership and accepting funds from whoever you wish, but to be a legally recognised residents’ association the above points a to f will apply. You have taken an enormous amount of care and trouble with the constitution, but if there is an issue with the freeholder, you may care to look at the national and FPRA version with a view to adopting it in case you need to apply to a tribunal at any time for recognition – which freeholders are able to withdraw if they wish.


Q A


Babysitting Dogs Our management has recently had two requests from recent resident newcomers to “baby sit” small dogs on our premises. Our lease states: “Any resident is not allowed to keep in their flat any animal without first obtaining the written consent of the landlord, which will only be granted in respect of a reasonably sized domestic pet and will subsequently be withdrawn if the animal causes a nuisance or annoyance to other occupiers of the building or fouls any part of the estate and the decision of the landlord as to whether or not the animal is causing nuisance or annoyance is final”. We, the management, have ruled against such requests, primarily on the grounds that it might open the floodgates for all residents to both “baby sit” or in fact own pets. Also where does one differentiate between a small and big pet. Our records show that no pets have been allowed since the block was built in 1984. We recently circulated a questionnaire to all 24 resident owners, which resulted in a 20/3 decision in favour of our decision (one apartment is up for sale and we had no reply). We respectively ask whether or not we are correct in making this decision? FPRA Hon Consultant Colin Cohen replies: The question that is raised here is not really a matter for FPRA to agree if they are right or wrong. A decision has been made by a majority of owners and therefore a set of rules of conduct could be drawn up by the freehold company clearly stating that no pets or particularly dogs are allowed in the premises so as to clarify any vagueness stated in the lease. This should be formalised by a resolution at the next AGM of the company and then given out to all owners to ensure that they abide by this.


Q


Delaying Tactics We are a block of 35 flats. In October 2011 we were told by the managing agents that they proposed to increase service charges by approximately 20 per cent to cover urgent repairs that needed to be carried out to both our lifts. The cost was estimated to be in the region of £20,000. The residents objected at the time and said that they would prefer to make provision individually to cover the cost, as has been done in the past. The managing agents insisted that they were within their rights to ask for this extra amount.


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