A tenant management organisation (TMO) is made up of council or housing association tenants and leaseholders. They collectively take responsibility for managing the homes they live in. Those resident members of the TMO create an independent legal body and usually elect a tenant-led management committee to run the organisation. The TMO can then enter into a legal management agreement with their landlord (the council). The TMO is paid an annual management and maintenance allowance in order to carry out management duties that are delegated to them.
The services managed by the TMO vary with local circumstances but may include day-to-day repairs, allocations and lettings, tenancy management, cleaning and care taking and rent collection.
Council tenants have had a statutory ‘Right to Manage’ since 1993. Local tenants’ groups have the right to set up a TMO provided that they can demonstrate competence and that the majority of tenants support the proposal in the ballot. The tenants’ right to manage exists whether or not an arms-length management organisation (ALMO) is operating in their area. Unfortunately, nearly twenty years on, only a very small proportion of council homes are managed by tenants (around 2%).
With the evolution of the “big society”, and devolving power to local communities, tenant’s “Right to Manage” has been brought back to the fore. The department for communities and local government (DCLG) hope that new proposals to streamline the Right to Manage process, cutting back on red tape and reducing the role of Whitehall, will substantially increase the number of homes being managed by tenants. New regulations are expected to be in place later in the summer.
Whether these reforms will prove sufficient to increase the number of TMO’s remains to be seen, but the proposals have been generally well received by the sector. It seems that in the past, tenants who have attempted to exercise the Right to manage have found it a difficult and protracted process, taking several years to complete.
Indeed, Michelle Reid, chief executive at the Tenant Participation Advisory Service (TPAS), has said that “without doubt” the challenges facing tenants wishing to exercise their Right to Manage have deterred some groups. She said: “The current process is overly bureaucratic and places too much burden on tenants in the early stages”.
Of course, in order for bids to be successful, it is important that the relevant council is supportive of the application. Nationally, many TMO’s are concentrated in particular boroughs, especially those in inner London. Indeed, across the country, there are some councils with no TMO’s, and others with many. Trevor Bell, co-ordinator of the National Federation of Tenant Management Organisations, suggests that some councils are not happy to relinquish control: “There has to be a lot of negotiation [between the council and the tenants] and some councils are wilfully obstructive”.
Successful TMO’s have been running across the country for years. A case study of one such TMO is The Windsor Albion Co-operative, set up in 1996. They manage 176 properties in the Pendleton area of Salford.
Every tenant is a member of the co-operative; members are directly involved in the running on the co-operative and contribute greatly to its success. Members nominate people to the board and everyone is encouraged to get involved.
The organisation manages everything on the estate from day to day repairs to the allocation of properties.
Windsor and Albion residents want their estate and block to be settled and a secure community; where people are friendly, considerate, support their neighbours and are proud of where they live.