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The Chartered Institute of Housing is the independent voice for housing and the home of professional standards

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The CIH story

CIH exists to ensure our communities are great places to live and work. We are continuously driving up standards and skills within the housing sector, championing housing with decision-makers and the media, and helping housing professionals be brilliant. But where did it all begin?

From Octavia Hill to Octavia House

The history of housing management, and the Chartered Institute of Housing, was sparked by the work of pioneers of social reform opposed to appalling housing conditions in the second half of the 19th century.

In 1884-1885 the Royal Commission on the Housing of Working Classes published a report that detailed with shocking clarity the poor conditions in which many people were living. At the same time, forward-thinking social reformers like Victorian socialist, philanthropist and educationalist Octavia Hill, recognised the need for improved housing for the poor and the reform of housing in England began.

Octavia Hill (1838-1912) initiated the profession of housing management, first managing two small groups of dilapidated houses in Marylebone, London in 1865 and 1866. She rented her properties on weekly or short-term tenancies, employing trained female housing managers, who were equipped to deal with repairs, welfare issues and rent accounting, to collect rents in person.

She continued this pioneering work throughout her life and in 1916 women who had trained under her founded the Association of Women Housing Workers. The Association grew and changed its name to the Society of Housing Managers in 1948.

In 1931, a group of local government officers from housing departments in the West Midlands established the Institute of Housing. The roots of CIH were in the Institute of Housing, which held the first Housing conference in 1931, developed its own qualifying examination and published the first issue of Housing magazine in 1938.

The Institute worked alongside the Society of Housing Managers until finally the two groups merged on 24th February 1965, forming the Institute of Housing Managers. This marked the start of the modern era for CIH.

In 1974 the organisation was renamed the Institute of Housing to reflect the wider role being undertaken by housing professionals. The Institute received its Royal Charter in 1984 and reflected this in its name in 1994, when it became the Chartered Institute of Housing.

That’s how we became the organisation we are today.

What happened next?

  • In February 1999, CIH merged with the former Institute of Rent Officers and launched HouseMark later that year
  • CIH responded to the devolution agenda by establishing National Business Units in Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales from January 2006
  • In January 2007, CIH established a new wholly-owned subsidiary, ConsultCIH, to provide a UK-wide housing and regeneration consultancy service to voluntary, public and private organisations
  • To meet the growing interest in the housing profession worldwide, CIH introduced international membership in January 2007
  • In January 2012, CIH introduced a new membership structure and a series of changes to the way the organisation is run, such as establishing a new Governing Board

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