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About our members

SFHA is the membership body for, and collective voice of, housing associations and co-operatives in Scotland. We exist to represent, support and connect our members. 

Our vision is that our members are central to Scotland’s social and economic recovery and renewal. Our mission is to sustain and strengthen the impact our members have on people and communities across Scotland.

It is everyone’s right to live in a safe, warm, affordable home, in a thriving community. Our members are uniquely positioned as community anchors across Scotland, supporting people and their communities.

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Further Info

Housing associations and co-operatives are independent, not-for-profit social enterprises - mostly charitable companies. They are part of the social housing sector and supply quality, affordable homes to those in need. 

They can be large or small; rural or urban; providing for general or very specialised needs. Many of these organisations are based in communities; some cover a wide area. Some focus primarily on providing housing and support to people with particular needs, such as older people.


There are currently 141 housing associations and co-operatives in Scotland, with 132being SFHA members. These organisations provided more than 280,000 homes and over 5,000 places in supported accommodation, plus factoring services for properties in private ownership, and shared equity housing.

The homes provided by housing associations and co-operatives are typically of high quality, with good energy efficiency standards which help to keep fuel bills low for tenants and meet the Scottish Government’s targets for tackling climate change.

Since the formation of the SFHA in 1975, we have seen the growth of housing associations and co-operatives from a handful of very small neighbourhood pockets of area renewal and sheltered housing for older people, to diverse provision and social enterprise in every part of the country. Associations maintain existing housing, whether they built it or acquired it from former owners in the public and private sectors, or factor tenemental properties on behalf of other owners.

Many associations see themselves as social enterprises and generate local initiatives around diverse activities from sponsoring activities to combat isolation, or promoting exercise with young and old people, diversion of anti-social behaviour, employment training, gardening and food production schemes or projects to help promote wellbeing and good health. The list is endless. 

Economic benefit of housing investment

Our members add to the supply of new housing with investment support from the Scottish Government to produce affordable rents while providing employment opportunities. Housing associations and co-operatives are major Scottish employers, providing 11,000 full-time jobs. As social businesses, they also support apprenticeships in construction and maintenance, often in areas where jobs are needed.

How are housing associations funded?

Housing associations and co-operatives fund maintenance of existing houses mainly from income from rents, supplemented by borrowing and reserves. Rent is the key source of income and associations set their own rents annually in consultation with tenants. Housing association rents are typically low at around £70 per week, but a majority of tenants rely on Housing Benefit or, increasingly, Universal Credit housing support to pay these rents.  

Building new affordable housing relies on investment from the Scottish Government, complemented by associations borrowing from the private sector. 

The books of an association have to balance each year, so each one has to manage their income and expenditure and their reserves carefully to ensure they achieve their own ambitions for meeting need and remain viable in the long term.  





The SFHA has good working relationships with all of the main political parties and meets regularly with prominent members of the UK and Scottish Governments and of the Parliaments of Scotland, the UK and Europe to promote our members’ views.

Whenever new legislation or government policy that affects our sector is proposed, once we have established our members’ position on the proposals, we carry out lobbying to challenge and re-shape them whenever it is necessary to do so. Recent examples of primary legislation on which SFHA successfully lobbied include the Scotland Act 2012, the Scotland Act 2016, the Housing (Scotland) Act 2014, the Public Bodies Joint Working (etc) (Scotland) Act 2014 and the Property Factors (Scotland) Act 2011. Upcoming work will cover the Office of National Statistics reclassification of RSLs and ongoing social security reform at both Holyrood and Westminster.

Members' interests

We aim to ensure that our policy priorities are determined directly by our members and respond to their interests. The SFHA represents members in many different ways. We are involved in all of the relevant government working groups, whether at ministerial level or with officials. We also regularly give written and oral evidence on behalf of members to various parliamentary committees, both at Holyrood and Westminster.

Promoting members’ work and campaigning on their behalf

The housing association and co-operative sector in Scotland is extremely diverse. This is what makes us unique and strong. We recognise and celebrate that diversity while representing our many commonalities. We are committed to promoting the excellent work that housing associations and co-operatives do across Scotland.

We use many different channels to communicate with different audiences, including magazines, e-news, press and social media.

We have continued to develop our social media engagement, and our strategic use of Facebook and Twitter goes from strength to strength and reaches a growing audience.



Any housing association or co-operative which is a registered association under the Housing Act 2010 may become a member of the SFHA. All such associations are welcome as members, regardless of composition, size or location.

We exist to represent all of our members and speak with a stronger collective voice. We promote and support the work that our members do, as well as positively influencing government by representing the interests of our members.  

What we do for members

Organisations become members by paying an annual membership fee dependent on the stock size of the organisation.

To support our members, the SFHA engages in a number of activities, including:

  • Policy development, advocacy and lobbying for the best possible landscape for housing
  • Producing sector-specific information, reports and publications
  • Representing the sector to policy makers and key decision makers in the Scottish Government and Scottish Parliament and in Westminster and Whitehall
  • Providing support and guidance for members
  • Representing the sector in local, regional and national media
  • Delivery of high-quality, sector-specific conferences, networking events and learning programmes
  • Facilitating member forums on a range of subjects including finance, repair and maintenance, asset management, mid-market rent, governance, factoring, and many more. 
  • Support for members’ staff at all levels, on a range of practical issues
  • Research and statistics support for members
  • Support for the effective engagement of members with local and regional statutory bodies
  • Frequent, topical and targeted communications


Fees and how to join

If your housing association is not a member of the SFHA and you would like more details, please contact Gillian Duddy, Membership Engagement Co-ordinator, on 07887 888346 or gduddy@sfha.co.uk for a membership pack or to discuss in more detail.

Member fees are based on the number of units owned by the association.

Sector associates

Only housing associations can be members of the Federation.

However, other organisations are welcome to join our Associates scheme, which offers the chance to build relationships with our members and receive many other benefits. Please click the Our Associates tab for more information.

The OnBoard Service is provided by the SFHA to support member housing associations looking to recruit new governing body members, and to assist individuals looking to volunteer and make a positive contribution within their community.

Housing associations always need and welcome individuals with a broad range of experience, skills and personal qualities to add value to their work.

Interested in volunteering? 

If you would like to find out more or register your interest as a potential volunteer board member, then all you have to do is email onboard@sfha.co.uk

Register of volunteers

If you are an SFHA member, you can request the list of registered candidates by e-mailing onboard@sfha.co.uk 

This service is FREE of charge to SFHA members.




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