Apparently the answer to this, in connection with the Right to Transfer, is when it is contained in the HRA business plan of a local authority.
In order to make an informed decision in the transfer ballot tenants must be able to compare and contrast the transfer proposal with the stay with the council option. It is also crucial that tenants be able to rely on the promises made by the new landlord in the Offer document, which is why these are enforceable through the transfer agreement.
On one side, therefore tenants have promises which they can rely on, with mechanisms to gain redress if they are not delivered. So you would think that in order to make a proper comparison, tenants should be able to compare like with like. Sadly this is not the case, as the entries in the “stay with the council” column amount to very little of substance. This is because the HRA business plan can be changed at any time. So the tenants pursuing their Right to Transfer have to make hard promises to deliver what they say if transfer proceeds, but the local authority is under no such obligation. You may think that it is easy to make claims that you will never have to deliver and therfore such claims cannot be relied on, I would agree.
This being the case, it is unfair to tenants that the local authority can present a case to tenants, which it knows it will never have to deliver. There is currently nothing to prevent a local authority amending its HRA business plan with the intention of sabotaging a Right to Transfer by magically increasing the amount it intends to invest in the transfer area. What tenants must understand is that there is also nothing to stop the council using the same magic to take away that planned investment the day after they vote to stay with the council.
It is worth bearing in mind that these decisions are political and there is nothing to require politicians to behave honourably as long as they act legally and within their code of conduct. So if politicians think they can win a transfer ballot by temporarily padding the HRA spend in the relevant area, the unscrupulous will do it.
So what is a tenant to do when voting in the transfer ballot? First, is to weigh carefully the true value of legally binding transfer promises as compared with the transient nature of the HRA business plan. The second is to judge each landlord on its track record, which has delivered on its previous promises to tenants and which has promised spending and then singularly failed to deliver. These issues won’t be in the Offer document, but tenants need to give them careful consideration – it’s not just what you are promised, but how far you trust the party making the promise.