Unfair to suggest that residents are incapable of managing their homes
23 June, 2017
• THE suggestion that housing management “fell into the hands of tenants” implies that the right to manage is something that is undesirable and therefore to be discouraged (Tackle this scandal now – not tomorrow, June 16).
To say that tenant management organisation (TMO) boards are not democratically elected is untrue. Every year, boards are voted for by the residents with a council officer present. We also have a continuation ballot every five years, so we are far more democratically accountable than councillors.
In Islington, we have 23 functioning TMOs. That’s 276 elected representatives collectively. All TMOs are monitored closely by the council’s TMO team, so your suggestion that they are unaccountable and completely autonomous is incorrect.
It was also stated in the Comment that there was an assurance from Labour councilors to bring TMO-managed housing back under the wing of the council, but at the housing scrutiny meeting at the Town Hall on June 20 we were assured that there are no plans to close Islington’s TMOs.
The very essence of how TMOs operate is that they rely on voluntary work from committee members (this is a requirement), so to suggest that they are incapable of running housing stock on behalf of the council is unfair and incorrect.
Some TMOs in Islington have been running for 40 years and return resident satisfaction ratings close to 100 per cent.
TMOs in Islington are not responsible for fire health and safety, or planning. The council is fully responsible for implementing these. There is no option for TMOs to take on such responsibilities, so your inference that councils have washed their hands in that regard is completely untrue.
Kensington and Chelsea TMO is not in fact a TMO. It is an Almo (arms’-length management organisation), which local authorities can set up after consulting residents, to run the council’s entire housing stock within its boundaries.
TMOs are bodies set up by residents of individual estates or blocks who have the right to manage their own homes and who receive tailored allowances from the council, which remains the freeholder.
While I fully understand the media’s need to condemn the failings attributed to the Grenfell Tower disaster, we must bear in mind that that fire was unprecedented and any council would struggle to deal with the likes of it. Indeed, some of those residents have lost everything, including the ability to prove that they exist.
The media have a responsibility to report on such matters accurately rather than using widespread defamatory comments to tick the box as regards finger-pointing.
Harry Weston Coop (Tenant Management Cooperative)
Cowdenbeath Path, N1