Housing associations are not-for-profit companies set up to provide affordable homes for people in housing need. Most of these homes are rented at affordable rates while a small amount are sold through low-cost home ownership schemes.
Some housing associations also offer specialist support for people with a range of needs including older and disabled people and people with learning difficulties, and people who have been homeless.
Many housing associations are involved in community initiatives such as employment training, regeneration and projects with children and young people. Housing associations are managed by a board of unpaid volunteers.
Community mutuals are not-for-profit organisations set up as a result of stock transfer.
The Welsh Government have created the Welsh Housing Quality Standard (WHQS), which states that councils, housing associations and community mutuals must improve their housing stock by 2012.
One of the options for councils is to enter into a Stock Transfer agreement, where tenants decide if they would like their homes to be transferred to a new not-for-profit social housing landlord. To date, tenants from eleven local authorities have voted to transfer their housing stock to new not-for-profit organisations.
You will need to contact your local housing association directly – please see our Member Map for more information. Housing associations will be able to inform you about criteria and waiting lists, and will also send you an application form.
Some housing associations, community mutuals and councils have schemes to promote Low Cost Home Ownership (LCHO).Shared owners are able over time to buy additional shares and eventually own their home outright. In some areas, a scheme called Homebuy has been operating. This allows a person unable to afford a mortgage for outright ownership to purchase at 70% (50% in some areas) of the cost with the remaining 30% being held by the association as an interest free loan.
Homebuyers can purchase the outstanding 30% over time or sell their property on the open market (after a fixed number of years) when the loan is then repaid. Some of our members allow members to purchase on a sliding scale.
CHC can advise you about associations which may be able to help with LCHO schemes - you should also ask your local council whether they have any LCHO schemes in your area. Some of our members also offer shared ownership schemes.
Rent levels in Wales are fixed within ranges set by the Welsh Government, depending on which area you live in and the size of the property. Housing association rents are cheaper than private rents but can be slightly higher than council rents.
However, that rent pays for a higher quality house - meeting stringent standards set by the Welsh Government, better services and a guarantee that any surpluses will be reinvested in improving homes and neighbourhoods.
You should follow your housing association's complaints procedure. If you are still not satisfied you may take the complaint to the Public Services Ombudsman for Wales, who will assess it and may decide to investigate. The Ombudsman's details are as follows:
Public Services Ombudsman for Wales
1 Ffordd yr Hen Gae
Tel: 0845 601 0987
Information about the service is available here.
Please see Becoming a Member for further information about joining CHC.
To find out more about becoming a housing association or community mutual board member, please see the Come on Board page or contact your local housing association directly.