Defend council homes – FAQs

FAQs about the H&F defend council homes policy and consultation.

On this FAQ page:

Overview questions

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  • Why should we Defend Council Homes?

    Because residents who live in them love them – we know this from lots of survey feedback. Also, because continuing access to council and other affordable homes is really important if ordinary people are going to be able to afford to live in boroughs like Hammersmith & Fulham in the future.

  • What do we need to protect council homes from?

    Not everyone has residents’ best interests at heart. Greedy developers, for instance, who might want to buy up the council’s housing land to build luxury apartments.  

    If there’s going to be any redevelopment, it shouldn’t result in the loss of affordable housing, so residents’ interests have to be protected from day one.  

    That’s why we need a policy that is clear and has teeth.

  • What are the aims of the policy?

    The policy has three main aims:

    • To make sure residents are fully involved from the outset in any redevelopment proposals that are likely to significantly affect their homes.
    • To commit the council to meet the most up-to-date standards of good practice when consulting residents about any redevelopment proposals and when carrying out any redevelopment that significantly affects residents’ homes.
    • To give residents a ‘triple-lock’ of protections against the council failing to meet its commitments and obligations.
  • What will the council be required to do under the policy?

    Under the policy, the council must:

    • Fully involve residents in any redevelopment proposal using the most up-to date standards of good practice.  This means good communication and involvement throughout.
    • Ensure that a residents’ steering group is set up for each redevelopment proposal.
    • If a redevelopment proposal goes ahead, the council must provide every resident affected with full information at every stage, explaining what they can expect from the council.
    • Provide residents with a formal mechanism for complaining to the council if they believe that the policy has not been complied with.
  • What are the legal protections that support the policy?

    The policy is reinforced by a ‘triple-lock’ of legal safeguards:

    First, the council will make binding commitments to residents through a legal principle known as legitimate expectation. Residents can rely on this principle and take action against the council in the courts if the council is not following its own policy.

    Second, the policy will require the council to register a legally binding restriction on title with the government’s Land Registry. This means it has to prove it has complied fully with the policy before any of its freehold housing and property can be sold as part of any redevelopment.  

    Third, there is an appeal mechanism built in for residents to use if they think the council isn't fully complying with the policy. If residents are not happy with the council’s first response, they will be able to make a compliance referral to the council's monitoring officer.

How the policy would work in practice

  • What would trigger the policy?

    Whenever there’s a realistic proposal to redevelop part of the council’s housing, the council MUST involve the residents affected in all the decisions.

  • Who would be on the residents’ steering group?

    It could be you! The steering group will consist of local people who come forward through a process to be designed in consultation with residents. Members of the group will be expected to represent the interests of all residents.

  • What does ‘consultation’ mean in practice?

    The policy requires the council to use the most up to date good practice in consulting residents. While the nature and content of consultation will vary from scheme to scheme, residents can expect to have real involvement in all the important decisions.

  • What role does the council’s monitoring officer play?

    Every council has to appoint a monitoring officer.  It is a post defined by law within the council whose job it is, among other things, to report when the council is in danger of acting illegally.

    The monitoring officer will therefore have to consider appeals and warn the council if it is in danger of not complying with its obligations under the policy.

About the DCHU

  • Who is consulting residents now?

    H&F Council is consulting residents as their landlord and, subject to this consultation, it’s the council that will adopt and implement the DCH policy. The DCHU has only advised the council about the policy.

  • If another administration took over could they overturn the policy?

    Under housing law, the council has to consult with its secure tenants about housing policies. It is built into the DCH policy that any variations to it (including its full revocation) can only be made following full and appropriate consultation with residents. So, a future administration would not be able to simply overturn the policy.

About the consultation

  • What are the timescales?

    The policy goes out to consultation with residents in September 2020 and, subject to the response from residents, will be adopted by the council early in 2021.

    Residents will benefit from the provisions of the policy immediately after its adoption by the council.

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