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Starting or joining a Residents’ Association or an Action Group

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As a tower block tenant, when you have a problem with your flat or building, you are usually encouraged to contact your landlord.

But if your neighbours are all experiencing the same problems as you, it makes sense to join together.

This benefits both you and your landlord:

It benefits you

  • Power A group of people have more effect than an individual.
  • Sharing You can divide the effort between many people
  • Knowledge You’ll understand if an issue is affecting the whole block, or is a one-off.
  • Money You might be able to apply for grants to help get things fixed.
  • Publicity You can start campaigns or hold events.
  • Community It’s nice to know your neighbours!

It benefits your landlord

  • Efficiency If everyone has the same issues, it is often easier and more economical to fix them all at once than one by one.
  • Communication Your landlord can speak to a single contact and be sure that the message will get back to everyone in the block.

There are two types of group you might want to consider. A Tenants and Residents group or an Action Group.

What is a Tenants and Residents’ Group?

A Tenants and Residents’ Group is a group of people who live in the same community and want to work together to bring improvements for everyone on a variety of issues, on an ongoing basis.

It might also be called a Residents’ Association, a Residents’ Group or a Tenants’ Association. These sorts of groups usually need to set up with a formal structure and constitution demonstrating how the group will function and how decisions will be made. Members will likely be voted in to specific roles or positions within the group like Chairperson, Secretary and Treasurer.

The Scottish advantage

In Scotland, all social landlords must have a tenant participation strategy setting out how the landlord and tenants can work together to improve conditions. A tenants’ or residents’ group is a great way of them showing they have met this requirement.

This page from the Shelter Scotland website has useful information about setting up tenants’ and residents’ associations.

How can I start a tenants’ and residents’ group?

First you should check that there isn’t already one for your block, your estate or your neighbourhood

Some ways to find out are:

  • Ask your landlord
  • Check notice boards
  • Watch out for any community newsletters
  • Search online

If you can’t find an existing tenants and residents association for your area, then you could set up your own. This document by former National Tower Blocks Network worker Mandy Wilson explains how to do that.

Once you’re all set up, let your landlord know that you exist. You will want to build a good relationship, so why not begin by inviting them to a meeting?

What is an action group?

Action groups are generally independent, set up by the residents themselves and like the name suggests – focused on action! Often, their purpose is to campaign on a single issue (and they may stop existing once they have achieved their aim) or they may continue campaigning on many issues.

They might be very active, attending council meetings, staging events and running media campaigns, or they might just quietly have meetings and communicate with the landlord.

This type of group does not usually require a formal structure or constitution and wouldn’t usually apply to the landlord for recognition as a representative body in a community. The idea of a housing action group is to bring widespread attention to the issue thereby forcing the landlord to act in the residents interests.

How can I set up an action group?

First check that there isn’t already an action group within your community focused on the issues you want to tackle. Next, check if there’s a tenants and residents association for your estate. It might be worth approaching them first to talk about the problem and ask them to assist you with raising the problem with the landlord.

Some ways to find out are:

  • Ask your landlord
  • Check notice boards
  • Watch out for any community newsletters
  • Search online

If there’s no appropriate group in existence, you could set up your own. This document by the Ledbury Action Group explains how to do that.

See our list of groups to read more about what they have achieved.

Links to read

Related guides


Directory of Residents’ Action Groups

Discover residents’ action groups, and what they have achieved. Add your own action group to our directory.
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Tools you can use

Contacting the media

Sometimes, if you’re not getting results through any other means, it can help to get some coverage in the local – or even national – press.

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