Everything you need to know about residents’ welfare associations in India

RWAs are registered under the Societies Registration Act, 1860 and have established roles and responsibilities, to ensure smooth functioning. However, it does not have any statutory power

Each residential colony has its own resident welfare association (RWA). As the name suggests, its main aim is to work towards the common welfare of all residents within a certain area. At the same time, there are rules, roles and responsibilities in place, to ensure its smooth functioning. In this article, we examine what is an RWA and how it works in India.


What is a Resident Welfare Association?

RWAs are registered under the Societies Registration Act, 1860. Each state may have amendments included from time to time and these shall be applicable on all RWAs in that particular state. Being registered under the Societies Registration Act, means that the RWA is governed by constitutional documents and cannot work according to its own will. The documents ensure that RWAs have special powers but their powers are also checked, if need be. It can be sued and can sue, as well. For all legal purposes, it is a legal body with rights.

Within a society, there are many aspects to be taken care of, where the RWA or its president’s role is crucial. These may include looking into the condition of internal roads, improvement in amenities and common facilities, drainage, street lights, overall cleanliness, water harvesting and civic amenities such as water and electricity. In bigger societies, the RWA may have more work, for example, looking into commercial activities within the society in the form of shops, bazaars, banks or even transportation in the area.


Residents welfare association


Role of RWA office bearers

Each RWA will have its own president, vice-president, general secretary, secretary, treasurer, finance advisor and executive members. Their powers and functions are elaborated below:


  • Preside over all meetings of the general body and governing body.
  • He/she has the vote on a draw.
  • Supervision of work done by office bearers.
  • May operate the bank accounts of the society.



  • Assist the president in his/her duties.
  • Fill in for the president in his/her absence.


General secretary 

  • Represent the society in public or private office.
  • Keep records of society and members.
  • May operate the bank accounts of the society.



  • Take over the role of the general secretary in his/her absence.
  • Assist the general secretary from time to time.



  • Collection of subscription, gifts, grants-in-aid and donations from the members and the general public.
  • Maintain records of accounts of the society’s funds. These funds need to be maintained in a scheduled bank.
  • Operate the bank account of the society.


Executive members 

  • Assist in the day-to-day work of the society.
  • File the list of office bearers with the Registrar of Societies, when need be, as per Section 4 of the Societies Registration Act, 1860.

See also: How to check your own conduct as a resident in an apartment


Powers of the RWA

The RWA decides the amount of subscription for every resident. Although all residents can ask for a membership, the RWA can refuse such membership after communicating the reason for the same. The RWA can also terminate the membership of any resident owing to his/her death, failure to pay subscription charges, if they work against the principles of the society, if the society members demand termination on a valid ground or even if the resident does not attend any meeting. Additionally, it is the responsibility of the RWA to operate and implement the initiatives and policies within the society. Note that while membership is open to all, only those residents who have registered for a membership, are eligible to be called members.


Financial year of RWA

It begins from April 1 every year to March 31.


Funds of RWA

The funds of the society need to be kept in a scheduled bank and the account can be operated by the treasurer, president or the general secretary only. A qualified auditor, appointed by the governing body, shall audit the accounts.


How are RWA members selected?

The governing body of the society is elected for a specified tenure during the meeting of the general body. Residents can raise their hand during the meeting, to elect a person. The final list of office bearers, not less than seven, must be attested by three outgoing bearers and thereafter, filed with the registrar of societies.

See also: Laws pertaining to AGM of housing societies, in Maharashtra


Amendments to RWA rules

Amendments are welcome in the Memorandum of Association and such rules are carried out in accordance with procedure laid down under Section 12 and 12A of the Societies Registration Act, 1860.


Is RWA mandatory for every housing society?

According to Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Act, 2016, a residents welfare association (RWA) must be established in a housing society, within three months from the time that a majority of the houses there have been booked. If a developer does not take steps to form an RWA for such a society, the legal owners can themselves form such a body.


Do RWAs have statutory powers?

No, RWAs are voluntary associations and while they have considerable power and authority, it cannot impact your right over your own property. In comparison, cooperative housing societies have more power.

Moreover, RWA does not possess the right to infringe on any homeowners’ right to privacy or speech. An RWA can only exercise its power or restraint in matters of society/building maintenance or functions or even workshops.



Can a RWA be dissolved?

Under Section 13 and Section 14 of the Societies Registration Act, 1860, as applicable to the state, an RWA can be dissolved.

How can I sue an RWA?

An RWA can be sued in the name of the president or general secretary, or as per the rules pertaining to your state.

How can casual vacancies be filled in an RWA?

Vacancies can be filled by a resolution passed by maximum votes by both, the governing body and general body, in the next election.


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