If you live in Belle Isle you will have heard of BITMO – they manage the council housing in the area – but do you know what BITMO stands for?
BITMO stands for Belle Isle Tenant Management Organisation. A tenant management organisation (TMO) is an independent legal body that is owned and run by tenants to carry out the management of their council owned housing. TMOs have a tenant led board.
TMOs normally manage their housing better than their landlord and help to improve community spirit, quality of life and tenant satisfaction and bring major improvements to their neighbourhoods.
BITMO is able to respond quickly to what tenants want, and to provide a local and high quality service to the people who live in Belle Isle. One example is the work we did to fence off Belle Isle Circus. Residents told us it was a problem and we solved it.
BITMO gets the same money that the Council would have spent if they were managing Belle Isle. We think we spend the money better because our tenants make the key decisions, not politicians from all over Leeds or managers in a central office.
The money we get stays in Belle Isle. If we don’t spend it, it goes into a surplus that we can spend on improvements to the estate, support for families in the school holidays or grants to tenants in need. We fund the BITMO’s GATE community centre and have a housing counter where you can walk in and talk to a member of our team – while most landlords have shut their public offices and ask you to phone a call centre.
Satisfaction among BITMO tenants is higher than for the Leeds Council tenants as a whole. In particular BITMO tenants feel that we listen to them and act on what they think, and that we make a positive difference to the neighbourhood.
We have a very good repairs service provided by Mears, and Sayes. We have worked with both companies for years and we are improving our service all the time. As well as this, we also have a team of caretakers who do minor repairs, maintain green areas, and remove flytipping. Many landlords have got rid of the caretaking service and replaced it with private contractors, who don’t have the same pride in the estates that they work on.
Because we are community based and tenant led, we work right in the heart of the estate, and our office is open five days a week, and the BITMO’s GATE community centre is open until 7pm on Tuesday and Thursday and some Saturdays. We are run by a tenant-led Board and accountable to the residents of Belle Isle, and we are committed to improving services and the community for the people who live here.
We have an active community programme that provides highly valued services and activities to tenants, that run in BITMO’s GATE and across the estate. This ranges from English and Maths tutoring for primary school children to a community garden, consultation on improving Belle Isle’s green spaces to a large programme run jointly with volunteers – cooking breakfasts, growing fruit and vegetables, researching family trees and fixing broken household goods.
If you are a BITMO tenant, please think about becoming a shareholder so you can play a part in the decisions made in BITMO – by voting at the Annual General Meeting or joining the BITMO Board. If you live in Belle Isle please contact us to talk about how you could volunteer with BITMO, another Belle Isle community centre or link up with your neighbours to improve community spirit on your street.
All these benefits for Belle Isle only happen because we are a TMO. There are a lot of TMOs in other parts of the country, but BITMO is the only one in Yorkshire. All council tenants have the right to form a tenant management organisation or to join an existing one.
If you would like to find out more about tenant management, get in touch with me, Peter Sutton, I am BITMO’s Community Development Manager and you can contact me on 07891 274237 or Peter.Sutton@belleisletmo.co.uk
This post was written by Peter Sutton
Main photo: Resident Belle Isle residents play a key role as Board Members and volunteers, here attending the National Federation of TMOs conference
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