WATMOS Walsall estate
The art of tenant-led housing management mastered by WATMOS Community Homes in the West Midlands is being passed onto residents of three estates in Lambeth, south London, following a unique transfer.
Three Lambeth TMOs (LATMOS) advertise their
interest in partnering with a housing association
Interested housing associations, including
WATMOS Community Homes, invited to visit three
Lambeth estates and submit their offers
WATMOS Community Homes shortlisted with four
other housing associations tenants, including
Terry Edis and Len Duckhouse, invited to an open
day in Lambeth
WATMOS Community Homes advised that they are
successful in becoming LATMOS’s partner
March – July 2011
Campaign starts on the Lambeth estates, with
LATMOS and WATMOS staff engaging with tenants
November – December 2011
New stock condition survey commissioned and
March – June 2012
Transfer fully agreed and signed
More than 120 miles separate WATMOS Community Homes in Walsall, West Midlands, from the Lambeth Alliance of Tenant Management Organisations (LATMOS) in London.
But one shared goal, envisioned by the late Terry Edis MBE – a former tenant Chair of WATMOS and a lifelong campaigner for tenant engagement – has brought these organisations together.
It’s a vision of tenant-led housing, originally championed by eight pioneering Walsall tenant management organisations (TMOs) who formed their own housing association where residents are in effect their own landlord and have complete control over the running of their homes and estates.
In March, after nine successful years, the organisation moved onto the next stage of its history with the transfer of tenant-run homes in Lambeth, owned by Lambeth Council. The historic transfer will see WATMOS, which manages 1,700 homes in Walsall, support residents living on three housing estates in Lambeth to successfully manage their own homes.
It will also see WATMOS plough £30 million into improving living conditions on the mainly high-rise estates over the next five years, with new kitchens, bathrooms and roofs all part of the investment plans.
The move follows a year-long campaign which culminated in residents from tenant-managed homes on Ethelred, Magdalen and Thorlands estates in Lambeth being given the chance to vote on who should become their landlord.
Tenants and staff at every level of the London and Walsall-based organisations were actively involved in achieving the successful ‘yes’ vote.
The process started with staff of the original WATMOS tenant management organisation (TMO), tenants and the three London TMOs working together to create an exhibition to highlight the wide ranging achievements of the TMOs in Walsall to show to LATMOS residents. A visit to the Walsall TMOs was then arranged, offering staff and tenants from every level of both operations the chance to see how tenant-led housing is working and growing.
Over the last year, tenants and staff from Walsall and London have worked closely together at a series of events to engage tenants and promote WATMOS Community Homes and LATMOS’s shared ethos and vision of tenant-led housing.
Tenants and staff from both organisations worked side-by-side on the London estates, talking to residents door-to-door about the benefits of joining WATMOS Community Homes. We also set up show flats where residents could get an idea of how their new kitchens and bathrooms would look.
The visibility of these events helped to generate interest amongst the residents about the unique offer, and brought WATMOS staff and tenants together for a common purpose.
The process of working together over the last year has already resulted in significant improvements to both WATMOS Community Homes and Lambeth’s TMOs.
At WATMOS, many staff who got involved in the transfer process had the chance to work side-by-side with tenants outside of the group for the first time, creating fantastic new relationships.
Each of the London TMOs is now represented on the WATMOS board and the London Area board is established. Board members are receiving training from WATMOS Community Homes to ensure good governance and leadership. Pressing local issues on the estates including security, car parking and repairs inspections are already being addressed.
During the year of consultation with WATMOS Community Homes, Thorlands Metra and Ethelred TMO formed excellent relationships with staff and TMO members from Walsall. This has ensured they already feel part of the group and are looking forward to becoming a part of its history.
John Frankland, from Thorlands TMO, says: “We have been working on transferring out of Lambeth for the last five years, it is really exciting to have finally realised that dream and join a group who are fully committed to, and understand the benefits of, tenants being in control.”
Ursula Barrington, Chief Executive of WATMOS Community Homes, says: “Our organisation was built by residents for residents, our principles are based on local tenant management and as such we were able to really understand the three London estates. This was fundamental to them choosing us as their partner.
“The resident committees as leadership teams, the crucial role of the TMO Chair, the relationship between the committees and staff – we understand the importance of all of these vital roles within tenant-led housing, making it easy for the London tenants to relate to us. We know that residents living on the estate are best placed to work with us to deliver services that truly meet their needs.”
This transfer will mark a new era for WATMOS and the three London estates. The TMOs will benefit from us investing heavily in improving living conditions whilst maintaining the ethos and values of tenant managed housing.
Whilst sadly Terry Edis is not here to witness this achievement, he alongside others played a vital role in the LATMOS partnership and one that will ensure tenants in Lambeth are at the heart of their estates – a legacy that we think would make him proud.