What is a Community Land Trust

A Community Land Trust (CLT) is a not for profit organisation. It is based in a community, and it is an organization which is committed to the looking after, and maintaining a neighbourhood. It works to make land, houses and other buildings benefit the community and to be affordable for local people FOREVER.

CLTs properties can come in lots of different forms. They may be for rent. They may be “shared ownership” properties. They may be organised on a co-operative basis, or they may even be sold like a normal house. But crucially, the land they are on is never sold. Rather it is leased from the Trust – which is made up of local people – to the owner or renter. So when anybody chooses to move, they have to sell or give the property back to the trust at a fixed increase in price, so the Trust can sell it to another local family at another affordable rate. This way they offer permanent affordability for communities.

A Land Trust would make houses cheaper for local people. How?
The average house price today in Tower Hamlets is £362,373 (November 2010). Yet it is estimated that in London 50% of the cost of a house is the cost of the land it is on – building materials and everything else make up only half. So by separating the ownership of homes from the ownership of the land they are on, via a ground lease, you can make them significantly cheaper.

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How could a Community Land Trust create ‘permanent affordability’?
Unlike other forms of ‘intermediate’ affordable housing, the beauty of land trusts is that the subsidy lasts forever – it is not just given away to the first family lucky enough to move in. This happens because, when buying the house, the home buyer and the Trust enter into an agreement about the resell price.

And how is it better for the wider community?
The ownership and the management of the land within a CLT belongs to the local community. Typically Land Trusts are made up of a Board of Trustees, 1/3 of which represents the CLT’s residents, 1/3 of which represents the local area (schools, churches, social institutions) and 1/3 represents the wider interests of the city or borough. This means that local people, both inside and outside its walls, control how it is run. This could range from anything from running a community pub or supermarket to ensuring Sharia compliant mortgages.

What could a CLT mean in the East End of London?
The East End of London has the Olympic Games coming to us in weeks. More than £9 billion has already been spent, and an area the size of Hyde Park will be left after the Games to be developed for housing. Nearly 10,000 homes will be built, many of them unaffordable for local people. The East London Community Land trust has asked that some of these “phase 1” homes to be formed into a Community Land Trust.