Tenant Council and Advisory Groups


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The Common Roof Partner Meetings – Terms of Reference

Tramway Summary Report Recommendations include the execution of two MOUs as well as guidance on how best to staff and manage the space.

Community Building’s Executive Committee Bylaws

Topics Below

Tenant Council and Advisory Groups

Advisory for Facilities Committee

Shared Space and Tenant Council Examples

Tenant Council and Advisory Groups

Ask-NCN Conversation on 2/13/2014


Katie Edwards, NCN

I’ve been digging through our resource library, and I can’t seem to put my hands on any documents related to tenant advisory groups at the moment. I’m looking for resources from centers with formal or semi-formal groups of tenants that exist to give feedback to the overall owner/landlord.

Do you have a job description or a guiding document that details the roles and responsibility of this tenant group? Would you share it with us?

I’m interested in knowing more about:

  • What role does your tenant advisory group play? Are they a governing body like a nonprofit board? Do they have a say in setting rents or recruiting tenants? Or are their responsibilities more focused on building community and special events in the space? What are the limits of their power?
  • Does each tenant have a representative? Are only major tenant involved? Are the representatives the same from time to time?
  • How often does your tenant group meet?
  • Do you have term limits for representatives?
  • How do you set expectations with this group?

Karen Maciorowski, CT Nonprofit Center

We are just forming our group and calling it a Leadership Committee. The only structure we have so far:

Monthly meetings, one representative (senior staff level) from each organization.

Purpose: Provide leadership to Center development through:

  • setting priorities on goals, projects, amenities to be implemented
  • establish and enforce a tenant selection process
  • provide input/leadership in developing special events for the Center
  • problem solve/establish priorities with the landlord (the landlord is a nonprofit partner and will attend the meetings when requested) – all property management issues are to be relayed by each tenant directly to the landlord and this meeting to be resolved to talk about greater issues, establish priorities, and discuss with the landlord
  • develop, implement, monitor steps to achieve community impact goals

They will not have a “legal” existence, but a leadership committee to help guide the development of the Center echo-system is important for buy-in and so our organization does not become the only voice.

We had our first meeting a week ago to share the development progress of the Center; establish a member agreement; and set the tone for a future leadership committee.

I’m looking forward to seeing what others do as we could use some structure and move from vision to action on this.

P.S. We officially open our doors on April 1st, 2014 as the Connecticut Nonprofit Center in Hartford Connecticut, a 86,000 square foot campus of two buildings! We will be developing our ecosystem of nonprofit members as for-profit leases expire and nonprofits replace them over the next five years. We open our doors with 9 nonprofits occupying 45% of the space and envision 20 – 30 nonprofits with 250 employees by 2018. Thanks to the efforts of the Nonprofit Center Network, both as consultants and to the network for your best practices, guidance, etc. We could NEVER have gotten to this stage without everyone’s support. Even though we haven’t met any of you personally, know that your exchange of ideas have been utilized fully during our development phase.

Glen Newby, The Common Roof

I am attaching the Terms of Reference for the monthly Partner meetings in our Common Roof facilities. Please feel free to share.

LINK: The Common Roof Partner Meetings – Terms of Reference

Jody Ensign, Third Street Center

In the two years of planning and construction, before the Center actually opened, we did have a Tenants’ Advisory Council to hear updates on the progress, set guidelines for building operations and to answer questions that the developers/architects had. They did advise on policies to be considered. However once the Center opened we began having monthly tenant meetings, opened to all tenant organizations. Tenant organizations usually assigned this task to either their ED or Office Manager. The first year, attendance was good, so many questions to answer and to learn how the building operated. We now, after 3 ½ years, only have quarterly meetings or as major issues arise. The tenants have two representatives on the Board of Directors. These two reps help coordinate the quarterly meetings and bring important issues to the Board’s attention. These representatives serve a three year term, as all other Board members.

The tenants are asked to bring issues to be discussed, problems which need to be addressed and then once or twice a year they do organize social gatherings. Tenants are encouraged make all decisions which affect them; give opinions on extra CAM expenses to be incurred, setting policies on scheduling common spaces, organizing “Friend Raisers” or fund raisers to benefit the whole building. We are now exploring necessary security measures.

Tenants have learned to realize that they need to participate in the meetings, as decisions will be made which affect them, such as the electrical consumption policy enacted last year, and they will be expected to abide by them. The Board of Directors of Third Street Center and I highly respect the opinions of the tenants so while the B of D has the ultimate authority, we usually defer to the opinions of the tenants when making decisions. The tenants greatly appreciate this respect and we want to make our tenants happy so they stay with us. This approach has created a positive “family” atmosphere where tenants are collaborating more on programs, events and freely offer assistance wherever needed. And when issues are to be decided I am always amazed that they are thinking of the collective group, not just their personal needs. This has taken awhile to accomplish and of course we still have differences, but they seem to work them out amicably.

Last year we began having an annual joint B of D/ Tenant meeting to discuss any issues and to coordinate the tenants’ vision with the TSC mission. This has helped a lot to diminish the feeling of “we” and “they”. Other than the tenant reps being elected to the board of Directors, we do not have anything official or in writing. The working relationship has just evolved as the building is maturing.

Megan Devenport, Denver Shared Spaces

We provide annual consulting grants to local shared spaces. Last year, one grantee was the Tramway Nonprofit Center that worked with the consultant to develop a more effective structure for managing the center, building relationships and collaborative opportunities between tenants, and formalizing the relationship of the tenant group to the landlord. The recommendations included the execution of two MOUs as well as guidance on how best to staff and manage the space. I’ve attached the final report for your reference. The MOUs are in the appendix along with the survey tools that were used to gather info and guide the process.

Link: Tramway Summary Report

Judy Lind, Kukui Children’s Center

Better late than never.

I did send you the amendment to our leases which is a Collaboration Agreement.

I’d like to add the following:

For a year before we opened, we met monthly with the ED’s of prospective tenant social services programs as a group. We got their input on the physical site, operations, rules, and management of the building although we employ a commercial management company. That was a very useful process as it insured we would have buy in when we opened.We called it our Tenant Advisory Group.

For the first year we met monthly, then bi-monthly (second year) and now quarterly since our 4th year. In our meetings each program provides an update, reports collaborations among programs, and has produced products such as our collaborative center brochure, newsletter, website etc. Each has brought important resources to the table and each contributes to the agenda. We problem solve, generate ideas for new initiatives such as collaborative board training, staff training and pot lucks.

To answer your questions:

  1. They are not a governing board and have no say in the rents; they are tenants
  2. They are advisory to our foundation which owns and operates the building but we almost always agree on what directions to take
  3. The tenant representative is always the ED; because we set the date to everyone’s convenience it is rare that we don’t have 100% attendence

4.Our meetings are for 90 minutes quarterly and the same people attend; it is a management group.

Advisory for Facilities Committee

From an Ask-NCN Discussion, 2/15/17


Debbie Shoemaker, Community Foundation of Southern Arizona

Our organization is in the process of buying a building and developing a nonprofit center. We have found the location and almost through the purchasing phase and need to turn our sites toward the next phase of space design and development. We are currently starting up a Facilities Committee that will need members that have experience in helping the project manager during the development, design, and renovation process. An example would be a consulting general contractor willing to act as a consultant only and guide us through the construction process.

Alexandra Urbanowski, SVCreates

Our advisory committee includes several people in the real estate development and construction fields who volunteer and provide advice but are not paid consultants or formal contractors on the project. We have a developer, a civil engineer and others. Very helpful!

Judy Lind, Kukui Children’s Center

I think your next stage would be to identify potential tenant programs so they can indicate how much space they need and be involved in designing the interiors. That is what we did and it worked very well for us.

We had an architect who acted as our space designer and worked with each prospective tenant to customize their areas. For example, some will need waiting rooms, a staff kitchen/lounge, conference room etc. where others may not.

I also advise people taking more space than they immediately need so they don’t have to move out as they grow their programs.

You can go online to kukuicenter.org to see what our center looks like.

Pam Mauk, Together Center

Larger organizations in our area have staff members that lead facility development for their organizations. We have had tremendous help from high-level managers in our area at, for example, Microsoft and Group Health (now Kaiser Permanente). Their backgrounds are often in planning/urban development, construction and law. They are more the big picture people around process, decision-making, accountability and checks and balances. You might see who does the kind of work you are doing but at a major corporation, which may allot a certain time for community volunteer engagement.

Mike Gilbert, The Jones Trust

We used facility design task force that ended with build out and then a facilities committee of our board members after that.

The task force had a large GC, and 2 engineers, and architect, a leasing professional and a guy from the building department.

We established goals for the project design focused on:

  • Energy Conservation
  • Efficient flow from lobby to all office spaces
  • Highest density of gross leasable area
  • General “Built Environment”

The committee helped us with governance and policy goals and more input on organizations and community needs to target. We had great results in build out costs, but did not have enough influence on the built environment and needed to go back and “open up” some of our space for a more open and warm feel to the center.

Vincent Tilford, Luella Hannan Memorial Fund

If there isn’t a bank involved, then someone needs to manage the draw process and ensure that lien waivers are obtained before each payment. That person could be a committee member.

Tim O’Donnell, City of Edmonton

I would highly advise that you incorporate a person or people who have building operations experience, as they can provide input into how to design efficiently or how design will ultimately affect operation routines and the building’s financial bottom line. At the City of Edmonton, we have myself and another staff person who support shared spaces in the mutli-cultural and support to newcomer settlement realms. The non-profit partner groups we have invested in to operate these buildings/spaces are the experts in community needs and we provide the support/advice to the governing boards and their staff on operations, maintenance and programming strategies. We have heard that our support in this way has helped quite a bit, so maybe you can tap into municipal staff in your area in a similar way.

Shared Space and Tenant Council Examples

From Ask-NCN 2.21.18


Jessica McDonald, Greenbelt Land Trust

I am looking for examples of Tenant Council (or Advisory Council/Executive Council/etc.) guiding documents, such as a Charter or MOA. This would be for a Council that is formed separately from the Center’s board to guide governance/policy/tenant decisions within the Center. Any examples would be appreciated!

Katy Sheehan, Community Building

Attached is a copy of the by-laws for our executive committee. Just as a piece of (unsolicited) advice that is not reflected in this document, we have found that by not having a clear overall purpose or project, a lot of times this committee devolves into a complain-fest…”the pigeon poop is still on my window sill” or “the faucet in the 2nd floor bathroom is still loose” or “my office is too cold.” And while those issues are important, its also important to have a larger purpose that feels like they are contributing to our community in a meaningful way, otherwise no one comes.

In the past, they organized Earth Day celebrations and put on a Community Breakfast for homeless folks but those got co-opted by other organizations eventually. Right now they are our main way to get information out to our tenants fast and in person. So, to help revitalize the group, this year we are giving them a budget to do a project of their choice. We’re excited to see what they come up with and (if its good 😉 I’ll share it with the group.

Judy Lind, The Kukui Center

The Kukui Center has a tenant management team comprised of all the Executive Directors of our programs.. We met monthly for a year before we opened and this attachment to the lease is one of the products. It has served us well as it sets up expectations and makes them clear.
The group met monthly for the first few years, then bi-monthly and now every 2-3 months since we opened in 2009 and more than half of the tenants are original. Meeting dates are set well in advance and are sacred. We usually get 100% attendence; rarely is there a need for a sub.
People are committed because we deal with substantive issues and everyone submits agenda items.

If you want to know more about how we operate you can go to our website at www.kukuicenter.org and see our short video.
Hope this helps.


Last updated byNonprofit Centers Network