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The council's role as a landlord

 

The Gateshead Housing Company is responsible for the day to day management of council homes including services such as repairs, rent collection and tenancy management.

The Gateshead Housing Company is an Arms Length Management Organisation (ALMO) that was set up by the council to manage and improve its housing stock.

The housing company was inspected by the Audit Commission, most recently in 2008, where its services were assessed as 'excellent' with 'excellent prospects for improvement'. A copy of the full report can be found on the housing company's website.

An information sheet is available on the Tenant Participation Advisory Service ( TPAS ), which gives a practical, short guide to Arms Length Management Organisations.  It has been designed to answer the most commonly asked questions by tenants. 

The Government's objective in promoting ALMO's is to create a separation between the local authorities role of providing strategic management of social housing within its area, and the direct management of the housing stock under its ownership.

In general, the direct management of the local authorities housing could be provided through an ALMO. The strategic management of social housing across the borough is maintained by the local authority.

The key features of the arms length body are:-

  • ownership of the housing stock will remain with the local authority;
  • the local authority will remain the legal landlord;
  • tenants will remain secure tenants of the authority and there will be no change in their rights, such as the right to buy, right to repair and right to manage;
  • an arms length body may manage all or part of an authority's stock.

Beyond these requirements, it is for local authorities to decide which arrangements best suit their circumstances, ensuring that they encourage an innovative approach to the management of stock that contributes to the pursuit of Best Value.

The Government envisages that ALMO's will normally be companies 100% controlled by the authority. These would be formed to carry out a charitable or non-profit making activity, and would normally be a company limited by guarantee. It will not be appropriate for the companies to trade for profit or to issue share capital and pay dividends.

It is for local authorities to determine in the light of their own circumstances, which functions will be delegated to the arms length company, which will be retained and which will be shared. Broadly speaking, it is expected that the authority will retain strategic functions, although strategic decisions will need to be taken following consultation with the arms length company.

Functions which are appropriate to the arms length company include:

  • rent collection, dealing with arrears, debt counselling; tenant information and consultation on matters which are the responsibility of the company; tenant participation, including involvement in monitoring and review of service standards; enforcement of tenancy conditions; similar functions for leaseholders; stock investment decisions and repairs ordering; managing lettings, voids and under-occupation; estate management and caretaking.

As a result of the ALMO being established, the Strategic Housing Service is responsible for:

  • Establishing and maintaining an effective relationship with TGHC
  • Monitoring the performance of TGHC and ensure the effective management of the housing stock
  • Ensuring Best Value Performance is delivered and performance targets are achieved within target
  • Ensuring that tenant satisfaction of the service they receive from TGHC is high
  • Providing a business plan for the council’s housing stock
  • Taking a lead on the development of council owned housing sites

 

Housing Enabling Service
Gateshead Council
Civic Centre
Regent Street
Gateshead
NE8 1HH

Tel: 0191 433 3852
E-mail: housingstrategy@gateshead.gov.uk