New tenant power to help kickstart house building

A new right will give social tenants the power to boost house building in their area, says Housing Minister Mark Prisk.

The minister confirmed that the Right to Transfer, coming into force in the autumn, will mean tenants can take control over future investment into their communities by requesting a change of ownership and requiring new homes to be built.

The new right lets social tenants who want to see their homes owned, managed and maintained by a housing association rather than a council request for a change of ownership, with councils required to consider the merits of every request.

As part of the deal, housing associations will need to clearly show how it will offer value for money for taxpayers, as well as how it will lead to the building of new affordable homes and the improvement of existing stock.

Where these key measures could be met, Mr Prisk said deals could be backed with a share of up to £430 million of government funding to cover costs related to the transfer.

And to ensure this right continues in the years ahead, the recent Spending Review included plans for an additional £100 million for transfers taking place in 2015 and 2016.

The plan will work alongside the £19.5 billion public and private investment to build 170,000 affordable homes by 2015, and plans in the Spending Review to invest £3.3 billion to deliver 165,000 affordable homes over 3 years from 2015 – equivalent to the fastest annual rate of house building for 20 years.

Mr Prisk said the plan offered a “win-win offer” for tenants across the country, and would add to the range of additional rights and powers the government has put in place since 2010. These include: •the Right to Manage, which gives tenants the right to take charge of securing maintenance and other services for their neighbourhood

•the chance to sit on Tenant Panels, which scrutinise landlords’ decisions and help resolve local disputes

•the Tenant and Community Cashback schemes, which enable tenants to make minor repairs to their own homes and their wider community, with cash rewards for those that do

All of these have also been backed by a £1.2 million training and support package to ensure tenants are able to make full use of the powers at their disposal.

Housing Minister Mark Prisk said:

“The new Right to Transfer is a win-win offer for tenants, giving them the chance to decide who owns and manages the homes they live in, and a commitment to new affordable homes being built in their area.

“I want to see tenants making full use of the rights at their disposal, and councils standing ready to work with them to maximise any deal’s potential to meet local housing need.

“Combined with the multi-billion pound investment we’re making, these steps will help ensure we reach the fastest annual rate of house building for 2 decades, delivering the affordable homes this country needs, and putting real power into the hands of local people who live in them.”

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