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Giving tenants control Matthew Warburton - 26/04/2012

Consensus 300CLG is consulting on regulations for a simplified Right to Manage and a new Right to Transfer, which would require councils to co-operate with a tenants group which wanted to transfer their homes from the local authority to another provider.

 

The deadline for comments is 23 May, and ARCH will be submitting a response. ARCH members are encouraged both to respond directly to CLG and to suggest how ARCH should respond.

The two proposals in the consultation paper raise rather different issues. The Right to Manage has been in place since 1993, and there is plenty of experience on which to base proposals for simplification. The consultation paper proposes to:

 

  • remove the requirement for councils to notify the Secretary of State of the results of any tenants ballot and send in a copy of any management agreement

 

  • remove the requirement on the prospective TMO  to prepare a feasibility study as well as a detailed "offer" to affected tenants

 

  • work with the sector to produce streamlined guidance.

 

On the face of it these seem sensible suggestions and I am minded to recommend that ARCH support them.

The Right to Manage was designed as a process to enable tenants to take over management from a recalcitrant council. It seems likely that much of the complexity of the process stems from this and a much simpler, streamlined process would be possible where the council support the proposal to delegate management.

Currently, such voluntary agreements are apparently only available for small contracts falling under EU procurement thresholds. ARCH may wish to argue for the extension of this voluntary approach to larger contracts, as part of a wider shift in emphasis  from prescriptive to enabling legislation.

The Right to Transfer is intended to enable tenants to transfer their homes, where they so wish, from a local authority to another social landlord. There is no evidence of which I am aware of pent-up demand from tenants for such transfers, and experience from the 1990s, when similar legislation was last implemented, suggests that any take-up will be minimal. I would suggest that ARCH remain sceptical about the value of this policy.

 

Please post your comments below, or email matthew.warburton@arch-housing.org.uk.

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