This is the key message behind the Tenant Services Authority’s (TSA) publication Location Location Location. Widely dispersed housing and multi-landlord estates can all lead to poor services to residents, lack of involvement in neighbourhoods and higher costs to housing providers.
Location Location Location illustrates how by working with local authorities and residents, associations can break down the barriers to rationalisation, which include the costs, legal arrangements, problems of assembling matching swaps, reaching agreement on valuations and the issue of paying VAT on management fees.
The publication encourages all associations to explore the scope for undertaking all forms of rationalisation as part of their asset management strategy. It also gives examples of how associations have approached rationalisation and offers useful guidance and case studies that other housing associations can adopt.
TSA Chief Executive Peter Marsh said: "I welcome this contribution to the rationalisation debate. The TSA has launched this publication as we recognise that stock rationalisation is not easy to achieve, but needs to be tackled to ensure that residents receive the best quality of service possible.
"Most people agree if we were starting from scratch we wouldn’t have the current pattern of ‘which landlord does what where’. Rationalisation is a perfect example of how our twin agendas of improving service to tenants and driving better efficiency in housing delivery, come together. Distant providers with a few homes scattered across many boroughs will, in all likelihood, be paying more for a less responsive service."
Following on from the publication, Peter Marsh outlined the three steps the TSA will be taking to better shape the affordable housing market:
• The TSA cares as much about service delivery as new homes, so no longer will the shape of the sector be driven by development at the expense of excellent local management;
• The TSA will be regulating local authority and ALMO homes as well as housing associations, so for the first time the TSA will create a two-way street in management;
• The TSA has new powers including a tenant trigger, which means if service delivery needs to be improved and distant landlords cannot rise to the challenge, we can force a change in their management.
Peter Marsh said: "We hope that the publication will encourage all housing associations to be actively engaged in those areas where they own and manage housing. All of this is part of the biggest shake up in affordable housing in decades."
Location Location Location will be accompanied by the future publication of a stock rationalisation toolkit.
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