tenant management - two towers housing cooperative

Two Towers Housing Cooperative is an example of one of the key changes in housing policy in the mid 1990s. It is a tenant management organization (TMO). The residents control significant aspects of the running of the estate. In this case Two Towers looks after cleaning, repairs, parking, rent collection and minor works (such as rebuilding the lift lobbies). They deal directly with developers etc. Major works such as lift replacements are still undertaken by the council. Two Towers is run by a committee and general meetings, and employs its own estate workers. It has been in existence since 1999. Every five years residents have vote on whether to on whether to stay with the Coop or return to Council control. In 2004 some 97 per cent voted for the former.

Tenant management organizations have been promoted by the government. They significantly increase the numbers of people involved in local housing matters (because they have real powers); and of generally improve the service residents get. In the case of Two Towers the Coop has focused on the quality and safety of shared environments like the lobbies, cleaning, the functioning of the lifts, and the speed and quality of repairs. Having local estate workers and the freedom to use different contractors helps in these matters, and boosted levels of rent collection. Involvement in the Coop or TMO can also lead to residents acting directly to deal with matters e.g. around graffiti. A further advantage of TMOs has been their development into organizations that provide or facilitate other local resources such as provision for children and young people.

There are often tensions with local authorities. The level of monitoring and administration required by them is substantial and has grown. There are conflicts around securing major works as TMOs have to compete for resources. Lastly, there are tensions around how TMOs see themselves and what local authorities believe them to be. Members of TMOs can tend to see themselves as community groups, representing the interests of local people, whilst local authorities view them as extensions of their administration.

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