Community bank account for residents association

fenlander_uk
fenlander_uk Posts: 625
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edited 14 May 2021 at 9:36AM in Budgeting & bank accounts
I am the secretary of our local residents association, a non-profit organisation whose only function is to collect an annual charge from all residents in our street to pay the costs of grass cutting and maintaining green spaces. The total annual turnover is usually around £2000. We receive about 40 payments per year from residents and issue 2 or 3 cheques.
Our current bankers (HSBC), with whom the association has had an account for many years have become increasingly unhelpful. They will not give us online access to our account so all payments inwards have to be made by cheque or in cash. Now they want us to fill in a multi-page questionnaire for which we would need to employ a forensic accountant, failing which our account is liable to be terminated. Apparently they're worried about money-laundering...
Can anyone recommend a suitable account for our simple needs? I have seen that Natwest have a 'community account' but would appreciate feedback from anyone in a similar situation who has found a banking solution that is simple and effective. Ideally, it would need to allow our members to pay their subscriptions online and let us monitor the incoming payments in the same way. I should add that all the 'officers' of the association are retired persons with minimal business backgrounds. Thanks for any help offered.
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  • Mickey666
    Mickey666 Posts: 2,834
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    Co-op business banking works for me, for the maintenance of a private road. 
    Free account, dual signatories for all expenditure, incoming payments by standing orders, full online access. 
    Only requirement was to have a 'constitution' statement for the association (easily cobbled together from examples online, edited for your specific circumstances), stating the purpose of the association, and how things such as membership, election of officers and AGMs are handled.  Sounds all very official but it's really very simple in practice.  Our constitution is one A4 page.  Has been up and running with no problems for about five years now.
  • eskbanker
    eskbanker Posts: 29,855
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    They will not give us online access to our account so all payments inwards have to be made by cheque or in cash.
    Just to be clear, there is no link between you having online access and people being able to pay in directly, so if you share the relevant details with the other residents they can make more convenient faster payments to the account regardless of whether you manage it online or not (even though you'd be obliged to wait until statements are sent before reconciling).
  • fenlander_uk
    fenlander_uk Posts: 625
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    Mickey666 said:
    Co-op business banking works for me, for the maintenance of a private road. 
    Free account, dual signatories for all expenditure, incoming payments by standing orders, full online access. 
    Only requirement was to have a 'constitution' statement for the association (easily cobbled together from examples online, edited for your specific circumstances), stating the purpose of the association, and how things such as membership, election of officers and AGMs are handled.  Sounds all very official but it's really very simple in practice.  Our constitution is one A4 page.  Has been up and running with no problems for about five years now.
    Thanks for the suggestion. Unfortunately the Co-op are currently advising delays of more than 12 weeks to set up this type of account.
  • fenlander_uk
    fenlander_uk Posts: 625
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    eskbanker said:
    They will not give us online access to our account so all payments inwards have to be made by cheque or in cash.
    Just to be clear, there is no link between you having online access and people being able to pay in directly, so if you share the relevant details with the other residents they can make more convenient faster payments to the account regardless of whether you manage it online or not (even though you'd be obliged to wait until statements are sent before reconciling).
    Thanks. Yes, I'm aware of that. However, being unable to monitor payments regularly during the collection phase is not workable.
  • Mickey666
    Mickey666 Posts: 2,834
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    One of the reasons I set up our residents association was to get away from having a 'collection' phase as such and to enable residents to make regular, smaller contributions.  Previously I would have to collect around £500 from each of the residents, which as you can imagine was not always convenient, plus it was also unfair on any residents who had recently moved.

    After setting up the residents association we all agreed the required annual contribution and everyone set up a monthly standing order.  Initially, the 'financial controller' (one of the residents, elected by all others at the 'AGM') checked the bank account for a couple of months to check that the SOs were all being paid but after that didn't bother again until the month of the AGM when they had to report the account balance and that all contributions had been made - which they were.

    Since then they only check the account annually, just before each AGM . . . . which is really just a formality to record the bank balance and all contributions have been made.  We don't even have a formal meeting and do everything by email.  This works for us because we only need to do any roadway maintenance every five years or so.  I imagine it would need more frequent checking for garden maintenance etc, where I guess there would also be regular outgoing payments, but even so, regular smaller monthly standing orders by the residents would likely be more convenient for all concerned than a larger annual payment, and probably require less chasing up?

    Basically, there are no rules as such and it's up to each residents association to figure out what works best for their particular circumstances.  I only offer the above as an example of what works for us.
  • fenlander_uk
    fenlander_uk Posts: 625
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    With an annual sub of £500 I can see your point. However, at <£50 I don't think we need such complex arrangements. I have little or no trouble collecting the money - it's having somewhere to put it when I've got it that causes the current head-scratching.
  • pramsay13
    pramsay13 Posts: 1,922
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    Bank of Scotland treasurer's account.
    Currently 4 weeks to open one. 
  • Mickey666
    Mickey666 Posts: 2,834
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    With an annual sub of £500 I can see your point. However, at <£50 I don't think we need such complex arrangements. I have little or no trouble collecting the money - it's having somewhere to put it when I've got it that causes the current head-scratching.
    I didn't say we had an annual sub of £500.  I said "previously I would have to collect around £500 from each of the residents" . . . whenever any work was actually needed, which being roadway maintenance would typically only be required after many years - hence the large sum.

    A 'community account' meant that money could be easily collected on a monthly basis instead and amounts to only £7.50 per month instead of an unpredictable large sum every few years.  Easier for everyone to budget for, fairer in cases where residents move in or out, no issues about where to keep the money collected and - with dual (or more if required) signatories - little chance of fraud.
  • colsten
    colsten Posts: 17,597
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    https://www.paypal.com/uk/webapps/mpp/money-pools

    Money Pools by Paypal. Probably not FSCS protected, which may or may not be an acceptable risk for you
  • colsten
    colsten Posts: 17,597
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    Or this one, which may (or may not) come with FSCS protection: https://www.communityfirstcu.co.uk/savings/community-group-savings/
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