Plans to make it easier for council tenants to take control of their local neighbourhood and services were announced today by Housing Minister Grant Shapps.
Mr Shapps challenged tenants who feel their landlords have neglected their neighbourhood to exercise their rights and take matters into their own hands in the spirit of last year’s riot clean-up crews.
The Minister today published plans to strengthen and streamline two key rights that can help tenants achieve this.
The Right to Manage gives tenants the chance to take over the day-to-day management of housing services such as cleaning, repairs, refurbishment and security to deliver a more responsive, better quality and value for money service for their community.
New proposals will streamline the piles of paperwork involved in transferring management responsibilities to a tenant organisation, speeding up the handover process.
The Right to Transfer allows tenants to request the ownership of council homes in their neighbourhood to be transferred from the council to a local housing association. This could be because tenants believe this new landlord could provide better services like cleaning and security or bring more investment into their area such as improvement to peoples homes and the environment.
At the moment tenants can put forward a case for transfer, but councils have no obligation to consider their proposals. The changes proposed today will strengthen these rights, requiring councils to work with tenants to explore transfer requests.
Housing Minister Grant Shapps said:
Last year’s ‘broom army’ action in the aftermath of the riots demonstrated the real difference a community can make when they come together for the good of their area. The rights I’m strengthening today can put decision making power into the hands of the tenants who know their neighbourhoods best.
I want to make it easier than ever for council tenants to take charge of local services, from minor repairs to major regeneration. And it will no longer be acceptable for councils to dismiss tenants’ proposals for improvement out of hand.
Nobody knows the needs of a neighbourhood better than the local community. Now I want to see tenants use these powers to prove us right.
Communities across the country are already taking advantage of their Right to Manage their area:
The 1960s Bloomsbury Estate in Birmingham has been transformed by the tenants themselves, through using their Right to Manage. The tenant-led management board set a local ‘Bloomsbury Standard’ for improvement to homes that exceeds the Decent Homes Standard. They have also rebuilt a number of homes and a new Lottery-funded leisure complex. Since taking responsibility for the estate, the Board has boosted rent arrears recovery and saved £750,000 over five years through better productivity.
Tenants took up management of Childwall Valley Estate, South Liverpool, in 2000 in response to the council’s ‘emergency repairs only’ policy. They are working to reduce anti-social behaviour with the police and Citizens Advice Bureau, and community wardens now work with work with local young people. They have also demolished the unpopular high rise blocks in the area to make way for new homes, and demand for properties on the estate now far exceeds supply.
In New Barracks, Salford the Tenant Management Cooperative have introduced community activities including street parties and children’s playschemes, raised funds for installing play equipment, maintained the local park area, and contributed half the cost to installing CCTV on the estate.
And since the Pembrooke Estate Plymouth was taken over by tenants in 1994, crime rates have fallen, a Youth Service has been set up to train excluded school pupils and other vulnerable youngsters, and residents consider the estate to be well managed, clean and safe. They are now in charge of a £5 million refurbishment programme.
Notes to editors
The consultation runs until 23 May 2012, and comments are being invited from a wide range of consultees from across the local authority, housing and tenant sectors.
Today’s consultation, Giving Tenants Control: Right to Transfer and Right to Manage Regulations, introduces new regulations on Right to Transfer and proposes streamlining the existing Right to Manage regulations. Details can be found at: www.communities.gov.uk/publications/housing/transfermanageconsult.
Right to Transfer Regulations would put a duty on local authorities to co-operate with tenant groups in following a process for exploring transfer options, and if, after this exploration there is evidence of support for a transfer, to consult all the affected tenants.
By following the procedures set out in Right to Manage Regulations, a tenant management organisation can enter into an agreement with their local housing authority to take over responsibility for managing local services.
5. Giving Tenants Control: Right to Transfer and Right to Manage Regulations - Consultation proposes streamlining these regulations so that it is easier for tenant management organisations to take over responsibility for delivering local services from their local authority landlord.
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