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Housing co-operatives

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housing co operatives

In this article

  • What a housing co-operative is and how to join one
  • Features and benefits of a housing co-operative
  • About Mutual Home Ownership (MHO)

Introduction

Housing co-operatives are groups of people who live in and manage their accommodation collectively. This involves taking responsibility for arranging repairs, making decisions about rent and who joins or leaves the co-op. Living in a housing co-operative can be a good way to get affordable housing and may give you more control over where you live. It is usually most suitable for single people.

What you need to know

It can be difficult to get accommodation in a housing co-operative because this type of accommodation is quite scarce, and vacancies are few and infrequent. The way that vacancies are filled varies between different housing co-operatives, but most common approaches are through either applying to the council’s waiting list and asking to be nominated for vacancies in housing co-operatives, or contacting the council for information about local housing co-operatives and then contacting them directly.

It is also possible to set up a housing co-operative yourself. You’ll probably need a certain number of other people to get involved as well as help with the legal aspects of setting it up. The Confederation of Co-operative Housing UK may be able to assist.

A relatively new form of tenure is Mutual Home Ownership (MHO), which aims to increase the supply of affordable intermediate market housing without requiring a major increase in capital investment from Government. Unlike other forms of low cost home ownership, it is designed to remain permanently affordable and not move out into the open market.

In MHO residents pay for the build costs, but not the land. The land is transferred into the ownership of a Community Land Trust (CLT) that holds it in perpetuity for the provision of affordable housing in that community.

A Community Land Trust (CLT) is a mechanism for the democratic ownership of land by the local community. Land is taken out of the market and separated from its productive use so that the impact of land appreciation is removed, thus enabling long-term affordable and sustainable local development.

The value of public investment, philanthropic gifts, charitable endowments, legacies or development gain is thus captured in perpetuity, underpinning the sustainable development of a defined locality or community. Through CLTs, local residents and businesses participate in and take responsibility for planning and delivering redevelopment schemes.

Mutual Retirement Housing is a very sound idea for people of retirement age for whom factors such as loneliness and the burden of property maintenance can become increasingly burdensome. Members have an equal say in how their homes are managed, but everyone retains their own front door key too. Experience in existing co-operative housing schemes with elderly residents shows that residents tend to look out for each other and provide companionship for those who feel in need of it. Resident management should also ensure that running costs are kept down.

Where to go for further help and advice

Confederation of Co-operative Housing UK

CDS Co-operatives 

Home and Communities Agency

Community Land Trusts

In summary

  • It is difficult but not impossible to get accommodation in Housing Co-operatives because there are not many of them and vacancies are few
  • You can set up your own Housing Co-operative but you will need a number of people who are interested in joining you and legal advice

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