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We recently contacted you regarding proposals to change the way DAMHA is structured. We are looking to modernise this structure so it is more familiar to people and organisations that we deal with, would provide us with more flexibility for the future, and would be less complicated to operate. The following Frequently Answered Questions (FAQ) forms part of our consultation with residents and is aimed at giving people who live in our homes a greater understanding of why we are proposing to make these changes.

Would my rents or other charges be affected by this change?

No, the current policies on rents and charges would not be affected by incorporation.

Would it have any impact on my lease or license agreement or my statutory rights?

No, the rights and responsibilities in your lease or license agreement and your statutory rights would not be affected by incorporation apart from the change in landlord.

Are you going to change my license agreement?

No, the form of license agreement that you have currently would not change as a result of incorporation.

Wouldn’t you be better off spending this money on residents?

This work is being funded by Durham Aged Mineworkers’ Homes Association and would not have any impact on the budget identified for investment and services.

If my landlord is changing, would I need to change the way I pay my rent?

If we need to open a new bank account, we would try to make sure any direct debit instructions are automatically updated, and would contact you in good time to enable you to change any payment details.

If I have agreements with DAMHA in addition to my license agreement or lease, would they be affected by the change?

There would be no changes to your rights that are set out in your license agreement or lease or your statutory rights.

Would you be making any changes to the services that I receive?

No changes would be made as a result of incorporation. The change in landlord is a technical one and we don’t think you would notice any difference.

What are you going to do with the responses to the consultation?

The results of the consultation and feedback will be reported to the DAMHA Board prior to the trustees giving final approval to apply for registration of the new charity.

Are you planning on having any meetings with residents?

In light of the COVID-19 situation, we do not plan to hold any meetings, but we will keep this under review, depending on the responses that we get.

Will you be prepared to change anything as a result of the consultation?

We are genuinely interested in hearing what you have to say, but it is not possible to say at this stage whether anything would change, without knowing what issues will be raised by residents.

How will I find out about the results and impact of the consultation?

We will feedback to residents after the results have been reported to trustees. This will either be through our newsletter, The Banner, or the website or direct mail, or a combination of all three depending on the nature of the responses.

Why are you doing this?

The reasons are set out in the letter that accompanies this document. This has been sent out to all residents and leaseholders. The current structure is very outdated and unusual for a large and complex charity. We are looking to modernise this structure so it is more familiar to people and organisations that we deal with, would provide us with more flexibility for the future, and would be less complicated to operate.

You mentioned making efficiency savings in the letter. Can you be more specific?

The benefits would be from a number of regular small changes rather than one or two large changes. For example:

• The current legal form is unusual and we spend a lot of time explaining it to people, including lawyers, when we work with them for the first time. As well as staff time, this results in higher legal fees.
• The process of buying and selling property by DAMHA would be more straightforward and would save associated fees.

In the letter, you made reference to the new structure being better understood by third parties. Why hasn’t this been a problem to date?

It hasn’t stopped us doing things we wanted to, but over the years it’s become more out-of-date and increasingly expensive and time consuming. We spend a lot of time explaining it to people, including lawyers, when we work with them for the first time. As well as staff time, this results in higher legal fees. We also want to make sure this doesn’t deter organisations we want to engage with.

You mention that the new structure provides more flexibility. What plans do you have in mind?

There are no plans for any changes in the foreseeable future.

What would be the name of this new organisation?

We intend to continue being called Durham Aged Mineworkers’ Homes Association

If it is a corporate body wouldn’t it have Limited in the name?

Usually corporate bodies, such as companies, do have Limited in their name, but this is not necessary where the organisation is charitable.

If DAMHA becomes a “Company Limited by Guarantee”, would it have shareholders who would demand a dividend payment?

There are no shareholders in a Company Limited by Guarantee – instead there are ‘members’. As a charity and a Company Limited by Guaratee DAMHA would not legally be able to make dividend payments to its members. The assets, and any surpluses it makes, can only be used to benefit the association.

Can residents become members?

It is intended that the only members will be the trustees. This is the most straightforward and common structure amongst charities. Rather than have residents as members, with the limited rights that confers, we are looking at more effective ways of engaging with residents and giving them influence over services provided. The Resident Engagement Strategy will be reviewed in 2020/2021 and you will have the chance to give feedback on that strategy.

Who would be on the board of DAMHA?

We propose that we would continue with our current Board Members. As and when these retire we will recruit new board members on the basis of skills needed as we do now.

How will residents be engaged?

It is crucially important that we hear the views of our residents and are currently writing to all residents and leaseholders to ask for their views. We will let you know the outcome of that in due course.

Would DAMHA regain the top rating for Governance after these changes?

There can be no guarantee this would happen, but the Regulator of Social Housing should find the new structure more familiar than the current arrangements, and the chances of getting back from G2 to G1 should hopefully be improved.

If it is registered with Companies House, does that mean DAMHA would no longer be regulated by the Regulator of Social Housing?

No, DAMHA would continue to be regulated by the Regulator of Social Housing, who must consent to the creation of the new charitable housing association. This means that things such as the Consumer Standards would continue to apply.

If DAMHA is registered with Companies House does this mean it is no longer a charity?

DAMHA would continue to be a charity, and it would therefore continue to be registered with the Charity Commission but with a new registration number. It would continue to have to comply with charity law and would continue to be regulated by the Regulator of Social Housing in addition to being registered with Companies House.

Why do you have to create a new organisation and change the landlord?

Unfortunately, the law doesn’t allow us simply to incorporate an existing organisation. We are required to create a new charity, although we can have the same name and the service provision would be unchanged.

Are you making any changes to the committee structure within DAMHA?

We have made changes to DAMHA’s committee structure over the past 12 – 18 months and do not anticipate any further changes following these proposals.

When are these changes going to come into effect?

Assuming trustees give final approval in November, the application to form the new incorporated charity would be submitted. How soon registration is confirmed will depend on how long it takes for the application to be considered. We hope this would be completed in August or September. If we move forward with the proposals, then the new charities would start to operate from the beginning of 2021 financial year.

If the new charity is established in the Autumn/Winter, why wait until next year to start to operate?

It makes sense to do the switch from ‘old DAMHA’ to ‘new DAMHA’ at the beginning of a new financial year, which for DAMHA is 1st April 2021. This timetable also allows for some slippage which may occur due to events outside our control.

Why does it take so long?

There are many different parts to the process which all have to come together at the right time. The bulk of the work should take place in the next six months , but we have to allow for some deadline slippage, and link the change to our financial year-end.

What happens if you miss this deadline?

We have enough room in our timetable that we are confident this would not happen. If it does, we could delay the formal transfer to the following year end, or we could look at having a one-off change to the financial year-end.

© Durham Aged Mineworkers' Homes 2024
Registered Office Address: The Grove, 168 Front Street. Chester-Le-Street, County Durham, DH3 3AZ