Guidance on forming a Residents’ Association

Setting up a residents’ association

Setting up a residents’ association can make a real difference to your community. It can give you the opportunity to address issues of community concern and be the ‘voice’ for the residents within your local area.

The first thing you need to consider when setting up a residents’ association is what the group hopes to achieve. The following questions may assist you in this process:


What issues do you want to tackle? 

Consider whether the group will tackle one specific issue or tackle a range of issues.

How big an area will the group cover? 

Research other residents’ associations and what areas are already covered.

How to make your group grow? 

Any group of three or more people can set up a group. For most groups, membership is open to anyone over the age of 16. Consider the options to recruit members. Talking to residents in your area to see who would like to get involved.  (Leafleting, put up posters in community areas. Launch a website once you are of a size to afford this)

What skills do members in your group have?

Consider the skills required to help the group to achieve its goals.


Type of residents’ association

Once you have a good idea of the group’s goals, you need to consider how you want the residents’ association to be set-up and run – as an informal or formal group. There are advantages and disadvantages to both. You do not necessarily have to make this decision now.

Setting up an informal residents’ association is ideal if you want to improve the local area, as an example. Or just want to keep in touch with neighbours.


A formal residents’ association is more suited to groups that tackle serious local issues and become engaged in local decision making, as they have certain rights. For example, a formal residents’ association that represents residents living in a certain area should be consulted when the council want to spend money on improvements or change how they run the area. These groups are a bit more work to set-up, and it is important that there is a good intent in practice to be democratic. There are more criteria to meet but still not too difficult and they can start as a small group, be formally constituted and ensure accessibility for all neighbours within the defined area.


FoBRA requires its members to be formally constituted Resident Associations.


To establish a residents’ association, you will need to:


  • Form a committee, with an elected Chairperson, Vice-Chairperson, Secretary, and Treasurer and committee members.
  • Adopt a constitution.
  • Keep certain records and documents, like an up-to-date list of members, any other rules of the association.
  • Keep this data secure and follow GDPR guidelines
  • Ensure that your group is inclusive of all members of your community/defined geographical area
  • Set up an initial meeting but always keep channels open to ensure inclusion
  • If you are conducting gatherings or social activities you may determine that public liability insurance is required, (this may cost approximately £200 pa and is usually a community group policy) not all Associations decide to do this.


Once you are confident that there is an interest within your local area and residents are committed to get involved, you will need to plan the first meeting. The key points to consider are listed below.


The purpose of the meeting?

Be clear about why the meeting is being held and what it aims to accomplish.

Setting the date and time.

It is important to consider timings when setting up the meetings, consider conducting a questionnaire to find what date and time suit the majority.

You should give people at least one week’s notice of the meeting.

Some people may be afraid to come to meetings alone, particularly at night. You may want to consider offering a service to accompany people to and from the venue.
Invite representatives.

If you have decided to invite representatives from other bodies e.g. the council, contact them and check they can attend.

Find a suitable venue for the meeting.

To begin with your group can meet informally. But if you grow you may need a larger venue. Contact your local hall or find a room to hire you may get this pro bono from a kind business owner. Venues should be wheelchair accessible if possible.

Advertise the meeting and be inclusive of everyone in your geographical area.

Make posters, flyers, use social media or simply advertise by word of mouth. As you grow larger you may consider that some groups require flyers whilst others prefer digital



FoBRA is very happy to advise and offer sample constitutions from other member associations (big and small).


For more information, contact our secretary Sylvia Sinclair at: