May 5, 2020
Local no more
There is an unmistakable trend in the housing association sector toward mergers and acquisitions of small community led housing associations by the bigger national organisations. There is also a sense that this is officially endorsed by the Scottish Housing Regulator and that the shadow of the Regulator is a constant, and not always welcome, presence in the affairs of housing associations. One of the few remaining fully mutual housing coops in the country, Hunters Hall in Craigmillar, is the latest to fall prey. In years to come, I suspect we’ll regret the loss of these locally controlled housing providers.
Message from the Coop Chair to members
PREFERRED PARTNER FOR TRANSFER OF HUNTERS HALL HOUSING CO-OP
I hope you and your loved ones are all safe and well and that you are managing at home in these challenging times. Please do not hesitate to let us know if there is anything we can do to be of help to you.
We are working hard, within the public health guidelines, to ensure that we stay on track with our work, including, progressing the proposed transfer of Hunters Hall Housing Co-op to a new landlord.
INTRODUCING HILLCREST HOMES
I am pleased that following a thorough evaluation and selection process, the Co-op’s Management Committee, at our meeting on 14th April 2020 unanimously approved HILLCREST HOMES (SCOTLAND) LTD as the preferred partner for our Transfer.
As you may recall, tenant members told us what was important to them for the future of Hunters Hall and the Management Committee followed these priorities in the process of finding a suitable partner. The criteria included that the partner must be able to demonstrate financial stability and high standards of governance as well as:
- Rent affordability well into the future
- Sound investment plans for our homes
- Support for a local group to contribute to decision making affecting our area, including our local lettings policy, and retaining the Hunters Hall brand.
- How high levels of service, including good quality contractors will be delivered from our local office.
- Commitment to retaining and developing our staff
- Improved access to new build homes for Hunters Hall tenants
- Support for community development initiatives
HILLCREST were selected as they scored the highest and strongly demonstrated all of your priorities, financial stability and high standards of governance.
Here is the HILLCREST offer to Hunters Hall tenants:
- Rent increases of inflation only for 10 years
- Enhanced and accelerated investment of £200,000 extra for years 1, 2, and 3 following transfer and shorter cycles for replacing components e.g. new kitchens every 15 years, rather than every 20 years as now with Hunters Hall
- Support in the establishment of and funding for a constituted Registered Tenants Organisation retaining the Hunters Hall name and retaining the local lettings policy.
- Ensuring high levels of service from within Hunters Hall, using current contractors where possible and expanding services to provide welfare right and energy advice; tenant participation and community development opportunities.
- Retaining all staff on current terms and conditions and providing career development opportunities
- Enhancing opportunities for Hunters Hall tenants to apply for new build homes throughout all of HILLCREST Homes Housing stock
- Providing community development expertise and access to funding for local community initiatives
As you may recall, the TENANT INFORMATION SERVICE (TIS) provides independent advice and information to tenant members about the transfer. They will ensure that you have plenty of information to help you shape and influence HILLCREST HOMES’ proposal. We would encourage you to contact TIS on their Freephone Advice Line 0800 488 0982 with any questions you may have. TIS has also established a Tenants Forum and is encouraging as many tenant members as possible to join. They will be getting in touch with you separately with more information about this and other ways to get involved.
TIMESCALES AND CONSULTATION
The Management Committee is committed to ensuring every tenant member has clear information to help them make a decision about whether to vote for transfer to HILLCREST HOMES. Therefore, tenant members will be consulted on HILLCREST HOMES’ proposals on 4 distinct occasions as outlined below, though the planned dates are dependent on public health guidance on Covid 19.
- Initial Consultation of around 6 weeks June/July
To set out HILLCREST HOMES’ proposals and obtaining tenant member feedback on these. These provides an opportunity to seek adaptations to HILLCREST HOMES’ proposals.
- Second Consultation of around 4 weeks July/August
To set out any amendments HILLCREST HOMES has made to the proposals following tenant member feedback in the initial consultation.
Independent Tenant Ballot period of 4 weeks August/September
Every tenant will have the right to vote in an independent ballot, which will be run by the Electoral Reform Society to ensure it is fair and transparent. A range of ways to vote will be provided. During the ballot period we will ensure that tenants fully understand HILLCREST HOMES’ finalised proposals and are provided with any further information they need.
- Members Consultation of around 4 weeks and Two Special General Meetings October/November
If a majority of tenants vote in favour of transfer, Hunters Hall Housing Co-op will hold two Special General Meetings where all tenant members will be invited on the proposal to transfer engagements to HILLCREST HOMES.
A transfer to HILLCREST HOMES can only take place after the above steps have been followed.
I hope that the information provided now is helpful in bringing you up to date with progress so far and I look forward to clarifying the arrangements for consultation and feedback events for tenants as soon as possible.
In the meantime, I hope you and your loved ones continue to stay safe and well, and please don’t hesitate to contact Hunters Hall staff if we can be of any help to you. You can do this by telephone on 0131 657 3379 or contact us via email or our website at email@example.com
Staff are currently working from home due to the Coronavirus ( Covid-19) and we will advise you as soon as we are able to re-open the office at 77 Niddrie House Drive.
Hunters Hall Housing Co-op Management Committee