Different options for managing council housing

The Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea Council is asking its tenants and leaseholders how they want their housing to be run and managed in future. They want to know if residents want to keep things as they are now, or do something different.

Below are a range of options for how housing can be managed and owned and how this could work. In all these options, most of the day to day work (such as collecting rents, undertaking maintenance etc.) would be done by paid staff – what’s different about them is who should manage those housing services and how decisions should be made.

All these options have advantages and disadvantages and that’s why we want to hear about what matters most to you, what you’re most positive about and what you would be most concerned about. There also does not necessarily need to be one option which covers the whole borough. Some of the options may be more appropriate for one estate or area of housing. Different areas may want to do things differently.

Traverse put together a detailed overview of these options, and information about different methods of resident engagement in a desk research report. You can download that report here.

Direct council management of services (this is how your housing is managed now):

Ownership = Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea

Management = Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea

At the moment, the local council is directly responsible for the management of their housing. Councils can also take back management of their housing if they have previously transferred management of services to another organisation.

Arms-length management of services:

Ownership = Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea

Management = Independent organisation

An arms-length management organisation (ALMO) is a not-for-profit organisation set up and owned by the local council. The council remains the owner and landlord of the properties and retains its wider strategic housing role as a provider of affordable housing. The management organisation takes responsibility for day-to-day housing management services. The council CAN take back management responsibilities they have previously transferred to an ALMO if that is felt to be necessary.

Community management of services:

Ownership = Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea

Management = Residents

Tenants and leaseholders can set up an independent body and enter into a legal agreement with the landlord of the properties (whether that is a council, a housing association or another organisation) while taking responsibility for day-to-day housing management services. This can take the form of a Tenant Management Organisation (TMO) or an Estate Management Board, with a resident-majority board along with some paid staff, or a Tenant Management Housing Cooperative which is fully managed by residents. TMOs typically cover an estate or cluster of estates. The council CAN take back management responsibilities they have previously transferred to a TMO if that is felt to be necessary.

Housing Association ownership and management:

Ownership = Independent organisation

Management = Independent organisation

A Housing Association is an independent organisation, regulated by the Government, which owns and manages housing. If a council wants to transfer ownership and management of their housing to a Housing Association (either a newly established, or an existing organisation), it would need to seek consent from the Government and residents. The council CANNOT take back ownership of housing once it has been transferred to a Housing Association.

Co-operative ownership and management:

Ownership = Residents

Management = Residents

The council can transfer ownership of their housing and housing management to an organisation which is jointly owned by all residents. Residents would employ staff to manage the housing. While there are many different varieties, co-operatives are usually run for the benefit of their members with profits retained within the business or distributed to members. The council CANNOT take back ownership of housing once it has been transferred to a co-operative.

Community ownership and management:

Ownership = Local community

Management = Local community

One of the most common models of community housing is a Community Land Trust (CLT). To form a Community Land Trust, land is gifted to, or bought, by the community. The community that now owns the land, then builds homes and other services on the land in a manner that is collectively agreed. The community remains the owner and manager of the land, buildings, and services they develop. The council CANNOT take back ownership of housing once it has been transferred to a community organisation.

Bespoke option:

Ownership = Anyone/up to you

Management = Anyone/up to you

The previous six options do not make up an exhaustive list. The management and ownership of housing can be done by many different parties in many different combinations. If you have alternative suggestions, or think combinations of the options above should be explored, please let us know through the comments form or through the discussions you take part in at one of our events.

Traverse put together a detailed overview of these options, and information about different methods of resident engagement in a desk research report. You can download that report here.