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Oak Tree Housing Association (OTHA) is a leading provider of social housing in Inverclyde. We own 1960 homes, provide services to over 1,000 homeowners, and have an annual turnover of £12m.
We are a registered social landlord, regulated by the Scottish Housing Regulator. We are also a registered charity, regulated by the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator. We currently employ 44 (37.4 FTE) staff and are governed by a Management Committee currently of 10 independent volunteers.
A Brief History
Oak Tree Housing Association Ltd was formed in April 2001 as a result of the merger of Bow Farm Housing Association and James Watt Housing Association. Victoria Housing Association then joined the new organisation at the end of June 2001. The three associations chose to come together for a variety of different reasons but primarily to create an organisation which was stronger than the sum of its parts and had an effective long-term future.
Over the years, we have successfully completed over 60 house-building projects and now have 1960 properties worth in the region of £97m. Around 83% of these new homes were provided for social rent, with the remainder offered for low cost home ownership and outright sale on a shared equity basis. We have also invested in making our neighbourhoods attractive places to live, and 82% of our tenants are satisfied with our approach.
We have a track record of delivering highly-effective and innovative services. We always strive to achieve a balance between quality and value for money, offering some of the lowest rents in Inverclyde. Nearly 80% of our tenants tell us they are satisfied with the value for money of their rent, and almost 90% of new tenants sustain their tenancy. We have high levels of operational efficiency as evidenced by relatively low re-let times, arrears and bad debt ratios.
We have grown our services over the years to reflect the changing needs of our local community. This has included for example: purpose-built accommodation for a local Women’s Aid service; partnering to deliver a local employment and training projects; establishing the Inverclyde Common Housing Register; engaging specialist tenancy support services for our most vulnerable tenants; employing Energy Activators to deliver energy advice and resource efficiency tips to tenants; and providing our tenants with access to local, independent welfare rights, advice and support.
In 2012, following significant financial and governance concerns at locally based Cloch Housing Association, we entered into a formal partnership arrangement with Cloch and formed a group structure whereby Cloch became our subsidiary.
In 2019, as part of our Group business planning process, we took the opportunity to review the effectiveness of the partnership and following a comprehensive option appraisal, both Management Committees decided unanimously that it was now the right time to dissolve the partnership and allow each organisation to pursue its own goals. This decision was later ratified in a ballot of Cloch’s tenants and our group structure was dissolved at the end of 2020/21.
As a result of our working relationship, we will continue to consider joint procurement projects, undertake joint research and deliver projects together, where these initiatives will result in improved efficiencies and better outcomes.
Whilst latterly we developed a shared services model for Finance and IT services, this ended on 28th February 2022. IT services continue to be provided to OTHA from Cloch, via a Service Level Agreement.
The Association is a registered charity.
Communication has been the key to our success and the Association would like to thank all of the stakeholders who have been involved in our projects. Their committment is paramount and we will continue to involve them in all aspects of our future development activities.