The RSLs are independent, not-for-profit housing organisations registered with the Housing Corporation under the Housing Act 1996 (A tenant's guide). Generally council homes are owned and operated by local council authorities. Thanks to their poor financial condition and inability to maintain these homes, the Government has in principle decided to transfer the housing stock and hand them over to RSLs. Under the transfer, these council homes would become the property of RSLs.
Certainly, the idea receives appreciation from all quarters as the transfer of housing stock is meant to improve housing standards and satisfy the tenants. But the Government has simply forgotten that it has been leaving the most important sector- social housing- to the whims and fancies of the market forces. It is a pity that the Government has never thought that the RSLs
The housing stock transfer programme began operating in 1988 under the Large Scale Voluntary Transfer programme (LSVT) which is still in vogue. The stock transfer activity intensified between September 1996 and March 2000 through another programme called Estates Renewal Challenge Fund (ERCF) initiative (Summary, point 1). This initiative was mainly focused in areas where poor housing conditions were prevalent like the Greater London area containing mostly council housing. Of course, stock transfers under ERCF tool place at other places too.
Administrative actions and Government programmes are aimed at improving working conditions and providing healthy services for the people. In this case, most of the local councils continued with the policy of housing stock transfer with a view to protecting the tenants. But going by what has been happening in this field, it seems that the tenants are being made scapegoats and forced to pay a heavy price because of the lopsided stock transfer policy. A survey conducted in six locations - Angus, Edinburgh, Inverclyde, North Lanarkshire, Perth & Kinross and Stirling -has revealed that the majority of RSLs have been charging separately for mainstream services such as landscaping, door entry systems, stair lighting, stair cleaning and other special services. It has come to light that in some cases, the charges for these services equal the rental charges and in
some cases are going beyond the rentals. But, under the council housing system, these service and maintenance charges are debited to the Housing Revenue Account (HRA) to which contributions are made by all the tenants in a particular area. (Introduction, 5.2 and 5.5).
The disadvantage for tenants in the RSL housing system is that the tenants are treated independently and separately for the expenses part and the gullible tenants have been transformed into powerful sources of regular income for these housing companies and associations. The very important point of 'social concern', one of the predominant factors in council housing policy, is conspicuously missing after the stock transfers. RSLs, operating with a business motto, have been ignoring the community