Homes for Lambeth is a new group of companies which will be wholly owned by the council. It will build homes at council rent, intermediate rent and market rent levels with options for long tenancies and stable rents. We need these better homes for existing residents, and more new homes to help tackle Lambeth’s housing crisis.
Homes for Lambeth will sell and rent some homes at market rates which will pay for the new and better homes and will also allow the council to reinvest the 15-20% development surplus that private developers normally make back into the borough.
The way Homes for Lambeth will be structured puts its governance firmly within the council’s democratic structures. A new ‘Ownership and Stewardship’ panel will be created. All decisions made by the cabinet will be based on recommendations from this panel and will be subject to the normal checks and balances of the council’s constitution. The panel will initially be made up of:
- Deputy Leader for Investment and Partnerships (Chair);
- Tenant Member;
- Deputy Leader for Finance and Resources;
- Cabinet member for Planning, Regeneration and Jobs;
- Cabinet Member for Housing and Environment
Also, each new estate will be able to set up its own Tenants and Residents Association (TRA) which will be able to engage with the housing management services supplier. TRAs will also advise the resident representative on the ‘Ownership and Stewardship' panel and will be able to work within the council engagement structures open to other TRAs.
Below are a number of questions which you may have about 'Homes for Lambeth' - click on the questions for the answers.
‘Homes for Lambeth’ is a new company set up by the Council and wholly owned by the Council. The company will bring in money from pension funds and other sources which the Council can’t itself use. It will use this money to build more homes and better homes in Lambeth to meet the growing demands for home in the borough.
‘Homes for Lambeth’ is a special purpose vehicle. An SPV is a company that the Council can set up, control and own to fund the development of new Council homes. In addition, where appropriate, it will undertake commercial development for the benefit of local people – so that we retain and reinvest surpluses into building homes and delivering the services that local people need and desire.
Homes for Lambeth will allow the Council to:
- Take greater control over the pace, quality and volume of new housing delivery in Lambeth across a range of tenures, in order to address market failures and to support the Council’s growth agenda.
- Take an active role in delivering complementary regeneration, commercial and infrastructure developments in addition to new housing.
- Access funding from a variety of public and private sources.
- Minimise the leakage of financial surpluses to the private sector and generating income that can be reinvested in housing and other development.
- Enable the Council to invest in developments which are intended to generate an investment return to support front line services.
- Provide the Council with a flexible platform that can grow and evolve to support it to realise new strategic delivery opportunities; and
- Effectively manage the Council’s overall exposure to the risks of development.
Yes, the Council will grant long-leases to Homes for Lambeth to build new homes. However, the Council will still own the land.
Are any retained buildings on estates which are part of the estate regeneration programme going to be transferred to Homes for Lambeth?
No, it is not expected that the Homes for Lambeth will take on the ownership of buildings that it has not delivered.
Under what conditions and subject to what constraints would the Council allow other investors to take an interest in Homes for Lambeth?
The Council will own all the shares in Homes for Lambeth. There will, however, be the potential for Homes for Lambeth to create subsidiary companies. These could be joint ventures in which the equity could be shared with a third party. The Council would consider doing this so, for example, we can use Right to Buy Receipts to build more and better homes.
Ultimately yes, however the articles and governance arrangements for Homes for Lambeth will safeguard the Council’s long-term commitment to prioritising the needs of Lambeth’s communities.
In addition the Council will require that any proposed sale of part or all of Homes for Lambeth (and any of its companies) be subject to a ‘triple lock’ of approvals::
- A unanimous vote of full Cabinet; and
- A 2/3rds vote of full Council approval; and
- A unanimous agreement of the Homes for Lambeth Board.
In addition the Council will deploy a robust approach to governing the actions of Homes for Lambeth to ensure that it remains fully committed to its objectives to support Lambeth’s communities.
If you move to a new home built by Homes for Lambeth, you would not have the Right to Buy under the Lifetime Assured Tenancy. If you move to an existing Council property off the estate, your secure tenancy would still include the Right to Buy unless for example the home you move to is exempt, for example sheltered accommodation.
As a private company, Homes for Lambeth can be criminally convicted. In order to establish liability the Court would need to show that the "controlling mind" of the company knew about and directed the activity involved. In the case of Homes for Lambeth this would mean the company's Board. The Board will be made up of Council officers and elected members.
Will the current rights of redress that residents currently enjoy be replicated with the new arrangements?
The Local Government Ombudsman can only deal with local authorities and certain other public bodies. Homes for Lambeth would not be covered by this. However tenants and leaseholders transferring into Homes for Lambeth properties would have other routes for complaints including the Housing Ombudsman.
Savills have been contracted to help Homes for Lambeth set up its housing associations. After this is done in around 9 months time Savills will have no involvement in running Homes for Lambeth. This is highly technical work and the Council needs to ensure it is done correctly.
These housing associations will allow Homes for Lambeth to build homes for council and intermediate rent and access funding to deliver more genuinely affordable homes. The council-rent properties will be let with lifetime tenancies matching, as closely as possible, existing council tenancies with rents set in the same way as for existing council properties, at about a third of market rent. Establishing Homes for Lambeth's housing associations is a complex and highly technical process as they will need to be registered with the Homes and Communities Agency.
The Council has called on expert advice, and after a properly audited procurement process have appointed Savills. This is expected to be a nine-month process and, once it is completed, Savills’ involvement will come to an end and they will have no involvement in running Homes for Lambeth.
If your questions are not answered here then please get in touch.