The decision followed a consultation of tenants and leaseholders over the summer, in which 71% of respondents said they support the proposal, 6% disagreed and 23% said they ‘don’t know’.
Lewisham Homes currently provide housing management services for about 20,000 properties. This includes things like repairs, maintenance, improvements and rent and service charge collections. Lewisham Homes is a separate company to Lewisham Council and has a contract to supply these services on behalf of the council.
The Council owns the properties and is the landlord, but does not currently manage any homes. The Council used to directly manage these homes before Lewisham Homes was set up in 2007.
Why did we consult?
Feedback from tenants and leaseholders helped us make a decision about whether to bring housing management services under direct control of the Council.
Bringing management service in-house is something Lewisham, like councils across the country, considered for a number of reasons:
- Following the Grenfell fire tragedy, new regulations will come into force later this year, which will give landlords extra responsibilities which must be carried out by the Council.
When Lewisham Homes was set up housing companies– or ALMOs - were able to claim extra grants that councils could not, but this funding is no longer available.
- There is a break clause in the contract with Lewisham Homes coming up, so this is a good time to consider the future of housing management services and how we can improve services for tenants and leaseholders.
- Lewisham Council is not alone is considering this change. Across the country there were 75 ALMOs. Now there are just 23, and in London there are just four, including Lewisham Homes.
The Council thinks bringing housing management under its direct control is the best option because:
- We think this will allow us to improve services for residents, provide a more joined up service (linking housing and other Council services that residents rely on) and strengthen resident voices.
- Bringing services back to the Council would give us direct control over their delivery and provide residents with increased democratic oversight.
- We also think that bringing services back under direct control can provide better value for money, for example, by avoiding duplicating services that both the Council and Lewisham Homes provide and making it easier to access support from other Council services.
Tenants and leaseholders’ rights would not change and rent levels and service charge will continue to be reviewed annually.
What would change?
Lewisham Council wants to be a good landlord, and to set an example for landlords of social housing in the borough.
We will keep properties in good repair, maintain the safety of buildings, handle tenants’ complaints effectively, engage with tenants helpfully and with respect, and take a responsible role in managing your neighbourhood.
We will publish a Lewisham Repairs Charter for all housing providers in Lewisham which will set out our commitments to improve standards, respond quickly to issues raised by residents and ensure that repairs are timely and effective.
Specifically, we make the following commitments to tenants and leaseholders currently managed by Lewisham Homes:
- We will establish a Residents’ Board and a new Tenant and Residents Association Forum to represent tenants and leaseholders and work directly with the Council as it develops the housing management service, ensuring residents are involved in all key decisions relating to how their homes are managed.
- We will invest the savings we make as a result of bringing housing management back in house to improve the service you receive.
- We will ensure that all residents continue to have a named contact who knows their area. Residents of housing blocks will also have a nominated person to deal with all safety concerns and ensure residents feel safe in their home.
- We will publish a four year investment programme of planned works to improve homes including external redecoration and planned maintenance.
- We will improve tenants’ overall satisfaction with their housing management service by making it easier for you to communicate with us, completing repairs more quickly and making staff more visible on your estate over the next four years.
- We will respond to 98% of all complaints within 10 days. Where the complaint needs further investigation and a full response within 10 days is not possible, we will let you know within five days.
The process to date
We have considered various options, which were explained in a report that was discussed by Mayor and Cabinet in July. At that meeting, it was agreed that the preferred option was to consult residents on the option to bring housing management services under direct control of the Council. At Mayor and Cabinet in December proposals were agreed to bring the housing management services currently provided by Lewisham Homes under the direct control of Lewisham Council by the end of 2023.
Frequently Asked Questions
When will the transfer happen?
Lewisham Homes and Lewisham Council are working together to transfer services and terminate the management contract by the end of 2023.
What will happen to Lewisham Homes staff?
When services transfer over, staff will become Council employees on their existing terms and conditions under TUPE. TUPE stands for Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) and these regulations protect an employee’s when they transfer to a new employer.
I’m a tenant/leaseholder – do I need to do anything?
No! Please continue to access services as you do now. We will write to update you if necessary but you do not need to take any action. The change will not affect your tenancy or leasehold agreement.
What changes will I notice?
|In the first instance, we will ensure that the transfer doesn’t affect the service you receive. |
We think this change presents an opportunity to improve services. During the consultation, tenants and leaseholders told us about some of their concerns and priorities. We want to build on that, and over the next year we’ll continue those discussions with residents and staff to develop our ‘tenants and leaseholders’ charter’ – our pledge to you about how we will improve services.
|How was the decision made?|| |
Over the summer the Council consulted tenants and leaseholders about a proposal to bring the services provided by Lewisham Homes under the direct control of the Council.
|What was the result of the consultation?|| |
Over the summer we consulted tenants and leaseholders. We worked with an independent research company to send a paper copy of the survey to everyone, helped people to complete it in person and carried out telephone surveys to make sure the responses accurately reflected our tenants and leaseholders.
A total of 21% responded, which is higher than average for similar consultations held elsewhere. 71% of respondents told us they support the proposal, 6% disagreed and 23% said they ‘don’t know’.
|What’s changed since the agreement with Lewisham Homes was signed?|| When Lewisham Homes was established in 2007, additional funds were available for ALMOs (Arms Length Management Organisations) to apply for. There are no longer any financial incentives for ALMOs. |
The Government is also bringing in new legislation and regulations which set out the responsibilities the Council has as landlord for the service provided to tenants and their safety, which cannot be transferred to Lewisham Homes.
|Have other councils brought their ALMOs in house?||The number of ALMOs has been reducing and only four London boroughs - including Lewisham - still have an ALMO.|
Will any changes affect rent levels and tenancy agreements?
No, these will continue to be set by the Council in the same way they are set now. Tenancy agreements are with the Council and will not change.
If the service is brought back to the Council, how will the views of tenants and leaseholders be heard?
|The Council wants to ensure that tenants and leaseholders are involved in how their homes are managed going forward. If the service is brought back to the Council alternative arrangements will be developed to replace the Lewisham Homes Board to ensure good engagement with the Council.|