Development by housing associations provides the bulk of new affordable housing being built in Scotland. In some areas local councils have also started to build council houses once more. Most of this development is rented housing but some housing associations also provide low cost home ownership through new build shared equity, open market shared equity or shared ownership. Recently some housing associations have also started to develop mid market rented housing through subsidiaries.
Housing associations are not for profit organisations (some are charities) managed by a management committee drawn from their members. Most housing associations have an open membership and it usually costs £1 to join. Once a member you are able to stand for election to the management committee and influence decision making. There are over 200 housing associations in Scotland with most rural areas having a local or regional association which develops housing in their area. You can search for the one nearest your community here
The management and performance of housing associations is regulated through the Scottish Housing Regulator; housing associations registered with the Regulator are also known as Registered Social Landlords (RSLs). Being an RSL allows housing associations to apply for grant funding for development from the Scottish Government but also means that they are required to manage and allocate their housing within the guidance issued by the Regulator.
This guidance does contain some flexibility and communities have been able to negotiate local lettings initiatives with housing associations to give some priority to local people in the allocation of new housing built in their area.
There are many examples of communities working with housing associations to deliver affordable rented housing in their areas:
in Durness the community interviewed three housing associations before deciding that Albyn Housing Society should develop badly needed new rented housing
the community on Gigha made land available at low cost to Fyne Homes Housing Association to build the first new housing on the island for decades
in Whitsome, Berwickshire Housing Association built new housing following a community housing needs survey
on Colonsay, 4 new affordable houses were built by West Highland Housing Association following a housing needs survey
in Tyndrum the community also worked with the local housing association, Rural Stirling HA to undertake a housing needs survey and agree a local lettings initiative