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St Georges Church Housing Co-op

The co-operative housing sector in the UK is small in relation to other forms of housing provision.  In the UK the percentage of co-operative housing is 0.6%.This varies significantly from other countries across Europe and the world.In the USA housing co-operatives provide homes for approximately 1.5 million American families.In Canada housing co-operative provide homes for 250,000 families.In Norway they provide homes for 14% of families in the country.

The UK has approximately 24 million households.Of these 17 million (70%) are in the home ownership sector.They are owned by the occupier, most of whom will have financed the purchase of their home by borrowing on a mortgage from either a bank or building society.The remaining 7.58 million households live in rented accommodation.Approximately 3.6 million live in rental housing provided by local authorities, they are tenants of their local council.

Another 1.58 million rent homes provided by not for profit housing associations, legally known as 'registered providers' because they are registered with a government regulator, The Homes and Communities Agency.  The majority of council tenants and tenants of non-profit housing associations pay rents that are subsidised to be below the open market rent for the property. The remaining 2.4 million households live in private rented housing, rented at market rents from private owners.

By comparison to the mainstream of rental and owner occupied housing, the co-operative housing sector in the UK is tiny.In the housing association sector there are less than ten thousand co-operatively owned and managed homes in comparison to the 1.58 million managed by traditional housing associations.The largest housing association is over three times larger than the whole of the co-operative housing sector.In the council housing sector, co-operative management by tenants has grown in recent years.Since the introduction of a statutory Right to Manage in 1994, 170,000 council tenants have formed tenant management organisations to manage their homes, the majority of which are co-operatives. But, while the role of co-operative management has grown, tenants who manage their own homes co-operatively under management agreements with their local authority represent less than 5% of the total council housing stock.

the types of housing co-operatives in the UK

There are four types of housing co-operatives in the UK :

  • tenant ownership co-operatives (often called par-value co-ops)
  • tenant management co-operatives
  • short-life housing co-operatives
  • self build co-operatives

tenant ownership co-operatives

Permanent tenant-ownership co-operatives have been formed using the same capital grant subsidy, social housing grant, that is available to housing associations.The capital grant enables affordable rents to be charged.

The distinguishing feature of a tenant-ownership co-operative is that the co-operative owns the property in which its members live.This maximises the responsibility and benefits which members can, by their own efforts, generate from the co-operative.It achieves the ultimate transfer of control and responsibility to occupiers of housing.It is the most demanding form of housing co-operative, but also has the potential to be the most effective and to generate the greatest personal and social benefits for members.

The balance of the cost of developing a housing co-operative that is not funded by social housing grant is met by borrowing private mortgage finance that is repaid out of rental income.


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