Hammersmith & Fulham Council has announced that the Rt Hon Keith Hill, a former housing minister, will lead the borough’s new Residents’ Housing Commission.
The Commission will work with council house tenants and leaseholders to explore how they can be given more control and safeguards over their homes, rents and service charges. Its proposals will then be put to a ballot.
The Commission will look at how to:
- Protect residents’ council homes against unwanted demolition and development
- Keep rents and service charges low
- Give more power to residents about what happens to council homes
- Protect tenancy terms
- Improve the quality of council housing.
Hammersmith & Fulham’s Cabinet Member for Housing, Cllr Lisa Homan, said: “In recent years, the council’s former administration explored the possibility of demolishing and developing parts of several council housing estates neighbouring other developments on private land.
“They actively planned the demolition of people’s homes on Gibbs Green, West Kensington and White City estates and indicated a willingness to demolish and develop homes on the Queen Caroline, Ashcroft Square, Charecroft, Clem Attlee, Wood Lane and Batman Close estates.
“But since last May, there has been a new administration running Hammersmith & Fulham and we promised in our manifesto to ‘take immediate measures to protect council homes now and in the future’.
“We immediately halted all council home sales to developers and have reduced the proposed rise in average rent and service charges from 4.58% to 2.89% while also freezing management fees on leaseholder service charges.
“We are committed to devolving more control to residents and to do so in a way that ensures that tenants and leaseholders are fully involved in an accountable and transparent process.”
The Residents’ Housing Commission will be made up of council tenants and leaseholders and will not include any councillors. They will have access to expert independent advice as they seek to develop the best options for the future of social housing in the borough. It will be their recommendations that will then be put to a vote of eligible council house residents.
Putting power in residents’ hands
Keith was the MP for Streatham for 20 years. As housing minister, he spearheaded the Decent Homes Programme. He currently chairs the regulatory panel for the Association of Residential Managing Agents.
“As a Londoner for 40 years, I understand why it is so important to residents that they are at the centre of this project,” Keith said.
“After their family, homes are the most important thing to people. So everything we do on this project will be in order to protect the position of people who live in Hammersmith & Fulham.
“To vest ownership of the future of estates in residents themselves is a bold idea. It needs a sensible and practical solution which provides residents with the kind of future security that they desire.
“The commission will depend on the support and involvement of residents – we can’t do it without you.”
Keith will be the key note speaker at the first-ever tenant-organised Tenants’ Conference at the Novotel Hotel in Hammersmith on 7 March.
What is the Residents’ Housing Commission?
Local tenants and leaseholders are being offered the opportunity to take more control of their local council homes.
H&F Council launched a pioneering online consultation last December to seek views on how residents living in the borough’s 12,500 council homes and 4,600 leasehold properties could have more say over how their homes were run.
The Residents’ Housing Commission will assess the wide range of options available to give residents more control over their homes. It will run its own consultation and there will be a ballot on its final proposals before any decisions are made.
The Commission will be made up of the independent chair, six tenants, three leaseholders and three independent experts. It will take evidence from independent housing experts and members of the public.
Who is Keith Hill?
1943 – Born in Leicester
1992 – Elected MP for Streatham, South London
1999-2001 – Served as Minister for London
2003-2005 – Served as Minister of State for Housing and Planning
2005-2007 – Served as Parliamentary Private Secretary to PM Tony Blair
2010 – Stood down as MP for Streatham and later declined a knighthood
Since 2010 – Served as chair of Lambeth Living, a not-for-profit, arm's length management organisation managing nearly 29,000 tenants’ and leaseholders’ homes on behalf of Lambeth Council
2012 – Appointed as the independent regulator for the Association of Residential Managing Agents (ARMA) new self-regulatory regime. ARMA is the leading trade association for residential leasehold management in England and Wales