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Re: Organization of Tenant Association

Posted by EGH on April 13, 2000 at 14:41:24:

In Reply to: Organization of Tenant Association posted by Alex Brown on April 13, 2000 at 11:06:09:

: I live in a 45 unit rent controlled building @ W. 112th Street in Manhattan. We are currently organizing to form a tenant association. We are about to vote on officers, but we don't really know what those responsibilites should or shouldn't be. Would you be able to refer us to a source that could provide us with a "boilerplate" of officer responsibilities for us to review.

: Thank you!!

Tenant associations are usually unincorporated, and their leadership structure should be tailored to your building's needs,the tenants' goals, and the strategies they need to reach those goals. It is far more important if you are organizing a tenant association to define these well than it is to spend a lot of time worrying about officer responsibilities. However --

Tenant associations usually have presidents; you can give that position another title if you prefer (e.g. coordinator). The job of the president is basically to preside at tenant meetings, assuring that they run smoothly and that everyone feels he can participate freely. For a meeting to run smoothly it should have a clear agenda, and the president usually sets the agenda. The president can act as spokesperson in dealing with the landlord and your attorney (if you have one), or you can choose someone else to have that job. (It is important that you do choose one spokesperson for dealing with the landlord. If you have an attorney, the attorney should have a consistent person to call. If the attorney charges by the hour, you want to authorize only one tenant to call him or her, and tell the attorney this.) You may wish to give the president the authority to sign documents (e.g. repair agreements) in the name of the tenant association. However, a president should never have the authority to conclude agreements without bringing them back to a tenant association meeting, unless the agreements embody a decision already made at a tenant association meeting (nor should anyone else have that authority).

If you're planning a rent strike you will need a treasurer. The treasurer should collect money, give out receipts, deposit money into the tenant association bank account, and maintain records.

If you open a tenant association bank account, you should require the signatures of at least three people to withdraw money from the account. You could call the third person your secretary if you want.

Depending on the reasons you are organizing a tenant association, for a building your size you may want floor captains -- maybe the three officers above plus a couple others. They distibute meeting notices, knock on doors to remind people of meetings, maybe inspect apartments on their floors to keep track of repairs being made, if that's why you're organizing.

If other jobs or responsibilites come up, the tenant association should delegate them on an ad hoc basis. Don't get caught up in process; save you energy for reaching your goals.

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