Becoming a Board Member

What does the Board of Management do?

The Board has final responsibility for everything CHISEL does. It meets 5 times a year and discusses a variety of topics which, broadly speaking, fall into the following categories:

  • CHISEL policy – we try to agree policies to cover all our main activities, so that the staff have guidelines for what action to take. Policies are drafted by staff, but agreed by the Board.
  • Future Activities – the Board agrees our business and operational plans and discusses how CHISEL’s services should develop in the future.
  • How CHISEL is performing – the Board receives reports showing how well we are doing on, among other things, meeting the annual budget, collecting rents, carrying out repairs, managing risks, equality and diversity, tenant satisfaction and so on. If we are not meeting our targets, it will decide on what action to take.
  • Meeting all our legal obligations – the Board is responsible for ensuring that CHISEL operates in accordance with our rules, within the law, is financially solvent and supplies all the reports and returns that are required of us.
  • General Housing Issues – we are often consulted on things that are happening in the wider housing arena and the Board discusses and agrees our response.
  • Staffing matters – the Board is responsible for the terms and conditions in the Contract of Employment and for the health and safety of staff while at work. The Board appoints the Managing Director who reports to the Board on the work of the staff team as well as the performance of the consultants and contractors who work for us.

Who is on the Board?

CHISEL’s constitution allows for up to 12 Board members. Of these, between a minimum of a third and a maximum of two-thirds of places are reserved for tenants. The remaining places are taken up by individual members. We try to use the individual membership to bring in people with specific skills that the Board might otherwise lack, such as financial, IT, housing management or housing maintenance knowledge.

Can any tenant become a tenant member?

No – you can not become a tenant member if you are in breach of your tenancy agreement in any way, including having a court order against you for rent arrears. However as soon as the breach is remedied, you become eligible again. You are also ineligible if you have a substantial financial interest in any company that is employed by CHISEL or if you are closely related to a member of CHISEL staff.

What does being a tenant member mean?

Tenant members are not representatives of the tenants. They come onto the Board in an individual capacity and the views they put forward are personal. CHISEL encourages tenant membership because tenants have a first hand knowledge of what is going on in the organisation and opinions about how things can be improved, which outsiders do not share. Also, we believe that people should be able to control the things which affect their own lives, if they want to do so.

How much time will it take?

A. The Board holds 5 standard meetings a year plus occasional special meetings. The meetings are on Thursday evenings and start at 7.00pm. They usually finish by 9.30 pm. Refreshments are provided.

A written agenda is sent out several days before the meeting and members are expected to read all the documents before they come to the meeting. It may take a couple of hours to read all the paperwork, but reading it in advance means that the meeting is quicker because everyone knows what is going on.

In addition to the meetings, there may be occasional training sessions or other events such as scheme visits during the year. These are normally held in the evenings. CHISEL also holds an annual Board and Staff planning day once a year.

Will I be paid for my work?

No, committee membership is voluntary. However, you will have all out of pocket expenses reimbursed including babysitting and travel costs. We will pay for a taxi home from any meeting that finishes after 9.30pm.

So what are the benefits to me?

The ways in which you can benefit are as follows:

1. You will be involved in deciding the future direction of the association, which can be of benefit to all tenants.
2. You will be involved in making sure that services are up to standard and recommending action where they are not.
3. You will acquire useful skills and knowledge, which may help you find a job, join a training course or enter higher education.

There are strict rules preventing members of housing association boards from gaining personal benefit from their membership. If the board discuss anything in which a member has a personal interest, they are obliged to declare an interest to that meeting.

What am I forbidden to do?

You cannot use your membership for any of the following:

1. To get housing for a member of your family or a friend.
2. To get any kind of preferential treatment, for example, to jump the transfer queue, to get repairs done more quickly and so on.
3. To buy your home – tenants do not have the right to buy.
4. To get any other benefit relating to your tenancy.

Will I be held personally liable if anything goes wrong?

A. Generally speaking, your liability is limited to £1, which is the cost of your share. However, if the Board’s negligence causes financial loss, members can, very rarely, bear a greater liability. CHISEL has insurance to cover our members against such personal liability, providing that it is not a consequence of a dishonest or criminal act by the committee.

You can be reassured that there has never been a known case where an individual member of any housing association board has been held personally liable for a loss suffered by their association.

How do I become a member?

In order to be a member of the Board you also have to be a member of the association, which is called CHISEL Ltd. This costs £1. Our membership policy tells you everything you need to know about membership and is available from the office. Please email the managing director on [email protected] or call (020) 8692 5258 and request a copy.

Any member of the association can stand for membership of the Board of Management. You will need to fill in the appropriate form and either nominate yourself or find another member to nominate you. The form is at https://www.chisel.org.uk/recruitment/board-recruitment/ – or email the managing director on [email protected] or call 020 8692 5258 for more information.

Members of the Board are elected at the Annual General Meeting held each year at the end of September. However, an election only takes place if the number of applicants exceeds the number of places, which almost never happens. Otherwise, everyone who applies is appointed.

In addition, new members can be appointed by the Board to fill any available places during the year. This means that you can apply for membership at any time.