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Tenant Association Constitution

Sample of a fairly formal version for a non-incorporated organization

(v1.0 by Robert Levitt)

If you wish to incorporate a non-profit corporation, please seek legal or other counsel

Of course your tenants association, if it feels a formal constitution is necessary, should debate at a general meeting, what items you feel can be excluded from this and what other items need to be added. The contents of the constitution need not be this detailed, or may have even more details, depending on the nature of the sort of association you want to have. You many not want to spell out all the activities you want to partake in leaving things more flexible for the future, or you may want to include them to ensure that the group does not neglect any particular task.

Read the following document carefully, if you are considering using this, as it may exclude items you want, and may include items you will want to delete.


Your Tenants Association's Constitution

1. Name and Location:

Name of your Tenants' Association and the location or area it covers

2. Date:

Approved at the general meeting of (date), by a vote of: x yes votes, x no votes

3. Nature:

A non-incorporated, non-profit organization of tenant for tenants.

4. Mission Statement:

  1. To improve conditions in your apartment building or other complex
    on security concerns, disrepair, and to improve communications with management if possible.

  2. To deal with the landlord as a group
    in situation of general concern such as security problems, to dispute above guideline rent increase applications, when and if the landlord or their employees or agents are involved in illegal or improper activities, and to fight for proper repair and maintenance of the building and units.

  3. To educate tenants on their rights and obligations as tenants;
    To have rights in law is not sufficient. To truly have these rights tenants must know what these rights are and be able to defend these rights.

  4. To organize tenants;
    Usually, if one tenant is having problems, so are other tenants. Organized tenants have the moral support of fellow members, as well as having more people to document the problems and share the work. It can also be of great benefit to go to government tribunals or court as a group rather than as individuals. It is also much more effective to educate and get feedback from, for example, one group of 10 tenants together, rather than to do so ten times with each individual tenant.

  5. To try to encourage member tenants to develop their skills, such as writing and public speaking.
    People can often have skills that are undiscovered due to lack of experience or opportunity, or due to insecurity or even fear. Developing within people their an awareness of their abilities can be very empowering within their lives.

    Those people who become knowledgable about tenant issues and rights and who have other skills should be encouraged to become more involved as activists, educating others, within our individual rental building and in the community at large, in other social issues, and should they move out of the area to whatever parts of Ontario they move to.

  6. To provide information and other assistance to tenants to the best of our abilities based upon our available resources.

  7. To lobby governments for policies and laws
    that truly protect and expand the rights of tenants, as well to make decent affordable housing a basic human right. We may also lobby on issues related to homelessness and poverty, as our resources permit.

  8. No group can be effective without introspection,
    and so we must at least once a year, at a general meeting, review our directions and activities to ascertain if we have been effectively pursuing our mission and how better to do so.

5. Methods of carrying out our mission include:

  1. Keep long-term records to document the history of this building, and the tenants' disputes with the landlord for the future;

  2. Purchasing a copy of the landlords incorporation documents to keep on file;

  3. Keep copies of tenants' complaints including repair requests and lack of maintenance letters, to document any history of problems, including if available pictures;

  4. File applications or disputes with the Ontario Rental Housing Tribunal on behalf of this association when agreed upon by the members;

  5. Distribute a newsletter at least twice a year and preferably more often as events warrant;

  6. Have meetings of the tenants in addition to the annual general meeting to get members involved and to cover issues of concern

  7. Educate tenants on issues around the apartment building and on their tenant rights both through the newsletter and through meetings

  8. Encourage other buildings to create tenants associations by waiting (x) months after the establishment of this organization, and then fliering two neighbouring rental buildings, and inviting them to a meeting to see how you have organized your tenants association.

  9. Other activities may be undertaken in the interests of tenants as deemed worthwhile

6. Anti-discrimination Policies:

We shall conduct our activities without discrimination because of race, religious beliefs, colour, gender, sexual orientation, ancestry, place of origin, physical or mental disabilities, age, marital status, physical attributes, low or no income or being on government assistance.

As such, anybody who makes comments contrary to our above policy at any of our meetings will be asked to apologize for such contrary statements and to retract it, or to leave the meeting.

Not only do we believe in these anti-discriminatory policies, but, as our resources permit, we will strive to make our group representative our local tenant community.

In selecting meeting locations, our first priority after the appropriateness of the location (in terms of whether it can seat the number of people we expect and the actual address being local,) will be the accessibility for those members with physical infirmities.

7. Non-partisanship:

We, as an organization, may support or contest specific policies, programs, actions, laws or by-laws by any government or political party as we think appropriate, but never endorse any party, government or politician.

We as a group, represent our members who may have various political affiliations, and so we can not remain representative of them all if we endorse any political parties or any candidate; we can only support or contest their platforms or actions. Members, on the other hand, may do what wish as individuals, including supporting, working for or endorsing a candidate as long as it does not include any references to this organization.

Our organization's goal is to improve the lives of tenants and may take up other issues/causes that benefit tenants, the poor and the homeless.

8. Financial:

  1. No member may receive from us a salary as we are a volunteer-only organization.

  2. Members shall receive reimbursement for approved expenses;

  3. Our fiscal year shall end (or begin) on (date) of each year.

  4. As part of the Annual General Meeting for the membership, there will be an accounting including a financial statement provided to all members, stating all revenues received and where they came from (eg. total from membership dues, events, a lawyer, etc.,) and what were the expenses (eg. photocopying costs, stationary, renting a room, events costs, etc.)

9. Group representatives:

Only those who are approved by the Board may claim to represent the organization. In situations where there is insufficient time to take an event or action to the monthly Board meetings, a majority of the organization's executive may do the approval.

10. Guests:

It is at the discretion of the Board of the organization, what non-members may attend our meetings. Board/steering committee meetings are open to all members and invited guests previously approved by the executive or the board.

11. Membership:

All members must pay an annual $x.xx membership fee, which may be waived by the Board in circumstances of financial hardship. (This is one item you are likely to want to edit. You might want to structure things different or have no fee at all.)

  1. To be eligible to be a member of the (Tenants' Association name) you must be a tenant within this building of (such and such address) and have paid your membership dues. Such members have voting rights.

    {If this is for an area organization rather than an individual building you may want to give general border and possibly other conditions such as being a residential tenant of a rooming or boarding home, private, public or non-profit rental housing, or a resident member of a non-equity residential co-operative, or homeless.}

  2. "Ex Officio" members are from other groups or agencies, who wish to provide their support to the organization. Their membership is at the discretion of the members. They do not have voting privileges as they may at times be in a conflict of interest situation. The purpose of this type of membership, is usually only for area tenant associations, for resource personel who might be repeatedly invited such as a local tenant lawyer or social worker.

  3. Not eligible for membership are:
    Owners or managers of multi-unit residential properties, their employees (both full and part-time,) their agents (including those who do contract work for them) and their immediate family.

  4. Members may be expelled if they misrepresent themselves as a tenant, when they are an owner or manager of a multi-unit residential property, or a full-time or part-time employee or agent of an owner or manager of a multi-unit residential property.

    Members may also be expelled for repeated violations of our anti-discrimination policies, for being violent, harassing or threatening violence against other members or guests, for being repeatedly disruptive in meetings to such an extent that the Board has found it necessary to give the person repeated warnings as recorded in this organization's minutes, for claiming to represent this organization without the authorization of the Board, or for belonging to or working for an organization that works against the best interest of tenants (such as FRPO, GTAA, UDI, etc.,) works or supports landlord rights, or misrepresents itself as a tenant organization.

12. Board:

The Board and Executive shall be determined by a vote of the eligible membership at the annual general meeting to be held every year in the months of ____ or ____. The Board shall be comprised only of voting members of the organization, and shall not total more than (eg 10) people to encourage those who will attend regularly.

Meetings of the Board shall be every month. (For a less active association this could be every two or three months.)

While all members may attend Board/steering committees and are encouraged to do so, they may only vote at the annual general meeting of the (tenants' associations' name). While the Board encourages people to speak up, it does have the right to put limits on speech at meetings, particularly large ones, to ensure that the agenda items can all be covered.

Board members must resign if they have declared their run for a political office. This is to prevent the organization being used for electioneering purposes of any kind. Should that board member lose in a political campaign, they are free to run for the board position again.

13. Executive:

The Executive of the (Tenants' Association name) shall be a subset of the Board, and will be comprised of the President, Vice-president (may be up to two), the Treasurer, and Secretary who will be voted on by the general membership at the Annual General Meeting. (The size of the executive is certainly something to consider based upon the size of your group.)

Meetings of the Executive shall be every __ weeks.

Any vacancies occurring between Annual General meetings will be filled by persons appointed by the Board.

The Executive are to take care of the day-to-day operations such as banking, keeping minutes, signing letters.

At least three executive members must having signing authority over the organization's bank account, and all cheques and transfers of funds from that account must take at least two signatures.

14. Meetings:

Dates, locations and speakers at meetings will all be decided by the Board. Only in the rare case of an emergency, where there is not enough time to call a Board meeting, can a majority of the executive make these decisions, and then it must be reviewed after-the-fact at the next Board meeting.

15. Annual General Meeting:

  1. The Annual General Meeting will be open to all members.

  2. The Annual General Meeting will be held once a year in the month of ___ or ___.

  3. The date of the AGM will be decided by a meeting of the Board.

  4. Members must be given at least four weeks notice of the meeting. All reasonable attempts will be made to call those who are members. For those who do not have telephones, we will leave notes if possible in their mailboxes, or try to contact them by whatever reasonable means.

  5. Only those members with voting privileges as outlined in item 11, may vote.

16. Constitution:

This constitution may only be amended at an annual general meeting of members, with a vote of 60% of votes or greater.

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