Co-op and mutual housing associations top the list of best social landlords

The Community Gateway Association in Preston was named the UK’s best housing association by 24 Housing

Co-operative and mutual housing models have gained a strong showing in 24 Housing’s top 50 social landlords list.

The Community Gateway Association in Preston was named the country’s top housing association, and the list also included Phoenix Community Housing, Greenfields Community Housing, Rochdale Boroughwide Housing and Merthyr Valleys Homes.

The community gateway model was developed by the Confederation of Co-operative Housing (CCH), Co-operatives UK and the Chartered Institute of Housing to give tenants more control of their communities. The Preston organisation was the first, with services including improved homes and neighbourhoods, tenancy advice and support, helping people to find suitable housing, and tackling anti-social behaviour.

Through the gateway model, tenants can influence what happens to their homes and communities as well as the services provided. They are represented on the association’s board, on the Gateway Tenants’ Committee, in service action groups and through ongoing, direct contact with staff and other residents.

There are four community gateway housing associations across the UK, including Phoenix Community Housing and Greenfields Community Housing.

Phoenix Community Housing owns and manages more than 6,000 properties in south-east London, with residents playing a central role in decision making as shareholders.

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Greenfields Community Housing provides homes with a range of tenures, including properties for rent, shared ownership and leasehold. It aims to own and manage up to 9,000 homes by 2020.

Housing co-op Rochdale Boroughwide Housing (RBH) also made the list. The UK’s first tenant and employee co-owned mutual housing society, it operates more than 13,500 homes and is governed by a board of directors and a representative body.

Related: How are co-op models helping to tackle the housing crisis?

The board is responsible for the overall management of the society and the delivery of services, while the representative body sets out the strategy and direction, and is responsible for appointing the board of directors.

Another housing co-op on the list, Merthyr Valleys Homes was set up in 2009 as a result of tenants voting to transfer their homes to a new not-for-profit organisation. It owns and manages over 4,200 homes across the borough.

A recent report by CCH highlights the social and community benefits of co-operative and mutual models. The research, produced with seven mutual associations and the University of Birmingham, also found that mutuality may be a way of ensuring accountability in the housing association sector after deregulation.

Author Nic Bliss, head of policy at the CCH, said: “It is no coincidence that so many mutual housing associations have been shown to be among the best housing associations. Our research showed clearly how the membership framework in mutual housing associations instils and protects social and community values in a changing and uncertain world, and enables service users, staff and board members to work in partnership to achieve membership defined objectives.”

Diane Bellinger, chief executive at Community Gateway Association, said: “It’s great that we have been recognised as the best housing association. This is down to the culture of partnership, trust and respect that we have built over the years between our tenant members and our staff – everyone working together to get the best for our community”.

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