It is clear that, as volunteers, we cannot do this on our own. We have therefore sought partnerships with recognised Housing Associations, who can deliver projects under our stewardship. This is how the great majority of CLTs operate – very few attempt to build, let alone allocate and manage and repair their own houses.
Housing Associations are also subject to legislation and are not for private profit. This term causes confusion, because a profit is made, but that profit is only used to invest in further housing. It is not creamed off by shareholders.
The homes will be built to a high but no-frills standard and rents will be fixed by Government legislation at no more than 80% of the market rate. (This is the current definition of Affordable Rent – might not seem as affordable as all that, sometimes, but it is the best we can do). Affordable Shared Ownership prices and part-rents are also set in a similar manner.
We chose Aster Homes of Devises for our first project, as being the best ‘fit’ with our level of experience, scale of development and overall aims. They already administer 27,000 homes including a dozen CLT schemes.”
Aster Homes describes itself thus:
As a not-for-dividend business, our purpose is to be an ethical housing developer and landlord to benefit society. We build homes for open market sale and shared ownership, and reinvest our profits to develop homes for rent.
Full information about the Aster Group – including their accounts and even what they pay their directors – is available on the Aster Group website .
The Housing Association will also be responsible for allocating vacant homes. This is done through the Homeseekers Register, and ECLT is not directly involved in the process. However, such allocations will always be bound by the rules that give priority to people with the defined Eastington links.
An advantage of the partnership is that ECLT’s direct involvement tails off once work on site starts. This allows us to concentrate on the next project, whilst the terms of the lease give us certain oversight of the on-going management by the Housing Association. There is a possible break clause after 45 years (and every 10th year thereafter), should a future ECLT Board choose to revise the relationship.
There is a seat on the ECLT Board for a tenant’s representative from each project which will also keep us in touch going forward.
Beyond our first project:
ECLT will partner with a different Housing Association for Project Two and other projects, according to our own accumulated experience and the availability of grant funding to manage the costs of consultants.
The overall relationship and partnership structure will be similar, given the decade-long success of other CLTs in operating in this manner.”