STALYBRIDGE and Hyde MP Jonathan Reynolds will introduce a Bill that could ease the UK housing crisis, by legally recognising housing co-operatives for the first time.
As increasing rents, poor credit and a shortage of properties make it harder for young people to find a home, Mr Reynolds believes co-operative housing schemes could be a valuable alternative.
Schemes already operate successfully in countries around the world, including Norway, Egypt and America and Sweden, where 18 per cent of homes are provided through co-operatives.
However in the UK there is no legal recognition of the unique status of co-operative housing, which means schemes are restricted by the traditional laws of landlord and tenant.
On Tuesday (October 11, 2011) Mr Reynolds will introduce the Co-operative Housing Tenure Bill to Parliament, which would acknowledge co-operative housing schemes in UK Law for the first time.
Mr Reynolds, who is a member of Labour and the Co-operative Party, said: "It is now harder than ever for young people to find a home of their own and if we are to address this issue it is time to look beyond the traditional options of ownership or tenancy.
"This Bill would open the way for the development of true ‘co-operative housing schemes', which are not currently acknowledged in Law in the UK.
"In a housing co-operative, the property is collectively owned by members, who - as residents - have a greater say over management and maintenance than they would as tenants, and schemes can be developed to enable members to build up financial equity.
"In the UK there is no legal recognition of the unique status of cooperative housing, which is instead governed by general landlord and tenant law. This is more ‘contractual' than co-operative. It poses practical difficulties and limits both the management and development of co-operative schemes."
If the Bill becomes Law housing co-operatives would be legally recognised and would better be able to respond to the wishes of the majority of members.
It would mean, for example, members of a housing co-operative would legally be able to democratically determine repair and maintenance obligations - though currently the law dictates a landlord must be wholly responsible.
The change would also enable co-operative members to democratically make rules and regulations - though currently the only enforceable rules would be those in the original tenancy agreement.
And for the first time it would enable schemes to be developed so members could access finance secured on their stake in the housing complex - while the current legal definition of members as tenants makes this impossible.
"For me this bill is deeply rooted in the values of the cooperative and socialist movement, begun by the Rochdale pioneers at the end of the nineteenth century," said Mr Reynolds.
"As a member of the Labour Party and the Co-operative Party I am proud to introduce it to the House today.
"However, the virtues co-operation promotes - the combination of rights with responsibilities, of fraternity, respect and mutualism - are those which have an appeal across the political spectrum.
"I hope that this Bill will be supported by members on both sides of the House, as an alternative that could have a positive impact on the growing housing crisis that we face in the UK."
Mr Reynolds will present the Bill under the provisions of a '10-minute rule bill' on Tuesday October 11.
Published October 10, 2011