Tools to empower homeowners’ associations: the key stakeholders for sustainable housing in countries with largely privatized multi-apartment housing stock24-10-2023
The owner’s initiative is paramount when renovating residential buildings. In countries, where most of the housing stock is in private hands and residents are also owners of their dwellings, local housing organisations, have the key power when it comes to energy transition through renovation in building or at the district level. These are often non-profit organisations initiated by resident-owners themselves, and cooperating with municipalities and regional authorities. Depending on the country’s legislation, the legal forms like building condominiums, housing cooperatives, homeowners’ associations, or apartment associations, may occur.
Legislation for HOAs
In a situation where most apartments are in private ownership, well-designed apartment ownership legislation is necessary to create the essential framework for energy-efficient renovation of apartment buildings and districts. Laws that provide clear guidelines about apartment owners’ rights and obligations, as well as clear voting rules in apartment associations, facilitate effective and transparent processes of maintenance and management of apartment buildings and ensure the commitment of all owners, which is necessary for the implementation of financial assistance measures for renovation.
In Estonia, apartment ownership represents a construction created by law, which combines the principles of law of property, law of obligations and company law. In Estonia, particular attention has been paid in development of apartment ownership legislation, i.e., to the internal relationships between owners, legal nature of the community of apartment owners and the external effects of the relationships. When it comes to management and maintenance of residential apartment buildings in Estonia, the field is regulated by the Apartment Ownership and Apartment Associations Act. The new Act entered into force in 2018, with the most significant principles being that all apartment ownership is managed in the form of apartment associations, all apartment associations are formed legally, and all apartment owners are by default members of these associations. Today, apartment associations are responsible for organizing apartment owners and managing the renovation project proposal, reporting to banks and grant implementing agencies, collecting loan payments etc.
Trainings for HOAs
Regular training is essential for leaders of the HOAs, to improve their knowledge and skills necessary to work as housing managers and carry out energy efficiency renovation work. A well-developed outreach model and network help to influence the target groups’ attitudes, behaviors, and beliefs towards energy efficiency in residential buildings, and build a positive public opinion to support the issue.
For that, a special training program has been developed by the Estonian Union of Co-operative Housing Associations for managers and members of the associations, to improve their knowledge and skills necessary to work as housing managers and carry out building energy efficiency renovation work.
Training programs for HOAs:
- increase the competence of professional as well as non-professional managers of nonprofit HOAs, to support effective and sustainable housing management practices,
- encourage owner-residents’ commitments and community engagement by increasing their awareness and knowledge, to empower them as members of HOAs, and to allow them to be more independent and accountable for their consumption patterns, including energy consumption habits,
- mobilize practical expertise and knowledge from the multi-apartment housing sector and match it with national scientific, technological, and political expertise to promote solutions for sustainable and affordable housing.
Currently, two versions of the program are in use: a 60-hour and a 120-hour program including classroom training, online training, and study visits. The training program provides a systematic examination of the administration and management of housing associations with the aim to improve work processes and quality of work for those possessing administrative roles in these organisations.