The current statutory guidance on consulting tenants about a housing transfer was published in July 2009 and takes no account of tenant led schemes under the Right to Transfer (RTT) which had been enacted in 2008 but not implemented by regulation until December 2013. This means that the Offer Document to tenants is the responsibility of the very council that opposes the tenants’ wishes which is illogical.
The 2009 guidance states:
Tenants need to understand why the local authority is proposing to transfer their housing (Annex 1, Para.9)
However in RTT cases the council is not proposing the transfer, in fact they are opposed to it. This internal contradiction demonstrates why it makes no sense for the Offer to come from the council.
Just as the housing transfer manual has been re-written to acknowledge the tensions inherent in RTT and transfer some responsibilities from councils to the tenant group, the guidance on tenant consultation similarly needs to be updated.
RTT is a tenant led process, the proposal to transfer is that of the tenants, not the council and so the Offer should be produced by and from the tenant group. To get to offer stage the tenants have already complied with a regulatory framework and the RTT statutory guidance, they can just as well comply with the guidance at consultation stage.
The substance of 2009 guidance is still sound, I don’t think it would take much to update it to include tenant led transfers and make it clear that the offer belongs to and comes from the tenants with the accompanying duty to take proper account of the guidance.
Being a trailblazer means having to work with the existing structures, even if they are no longer quite fit for purpose. Whilst this is not always easy, it does flag up those issues that need to be addressed so that RTT can work properly. So let’s hope that future RTT have a new version of the guidance that empowers tenants.