About the Legislation – The Background

Since 2014, the regulation of the Approved housing Bodies (AHB) sector has operated on a voluntary basis, under the Voluntary Regulation Code. The voluntary regulatory framework was the successful precursor to the newly established Approved Housing Bodies Regulatory Authority (AHBRA). Once operational, the AHBRA will replace the voluntary regulatory framework.

Legislation & Commencement Timelines

The powers and functions of the AHBRA will be commenced on a phased basis throughout 2021 and 2022. The AHB Sector will be informed accordingly.

It is strongly recommended that AHBs familiarise themselves with the legislation, the registration framework, eligibility criteria, the application to register and the information required or that may be sought by the AHBRA when an organisation is deemed registered.

Housing (Regulation of Approved Housing Bodies) Act 2019

The Housing (Regulation of Approved Housing Bodies) Act 2019 was signed into law on 23 December 2019.

This Act provides for the regulation of Approved Housing Bodies (AHBs) for the purposes of supporting stronger governance, financial viability and oversight of AHBs’ tenancy and asset management, with a particular focus on safeguarding the significant public investment in the delivery of social housing by AHBs. The newly established AHBRA is expected to provide stronger assurance to tenants, the public and potential investors that the sector is sustainable, stable and well regulated.

The legislation provides for the establishment of an Approved Housing Bodies Regulatory Authority (AHBRA) and assigns the following functions to it:

  • The registration of AHBs
  • Setting standards for AHBs, subject to the approval of the Minister
  • Monitoring and assessing AHBs’ compliance with the standards
  • Undertaking investigations into AHBs, where necessary
  • The cancellation of registration of AHBs, where appropriate; and
  • the right to seek Court orders to protect the assets of AHBs in certain circumstances

The legislation provides for existing AHBs approved under section 6 of the Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1992 to be deemed registered initially and to then apply to be retained on the register within a specified period depending on the number of dwellings the AHB is providing or managing.

The new regulatory structure replaces the current system established under section 6 of the Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1992, which provides that the Minister may approve a body to receive assistance from local authorities for the provision of housing in accordance with the Housing Acts.

Legislation & Timelines

The powers and functions of the AHBRA conferred upon it under the legislation are being commenced on a phased basis in both 2021 and 2022. A number of articles and sections were commenced in February 2021, these were largely technical and administrative aspects of the law and included the establishment of the AHBRA.

The ‘draft standards’ section of the legislation was commenced in July 2021 and in line with the Act, AHBRA is required to submit the draft Standards to the Minister for approval within six months of the commencement date. It is expected that the remaining powers and functions will be commenced in the first quarter of 2022.

Commencement of legislation remains at the discretion of the Minister.

Commencement & Timelines

  • Housing (Regulation of Approved Housing Bodies) Act 2019
  • Commencements to date:
    • SI 188 of 2020
    • SI 25 of 2021
    • SI 27 of 2021
    • SI 320 of 2021
  • Approved Housing Bodies Regulatory Authority established 1 February 2021
  • Chair & Board Appointed – 11 February 2021

As each power and function is conferred upon the AHBRA, it will communicate the requirements to all key stakeholders.

Approved Housing Bodies Regulatory Authority (AHBRA)

The Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage, Darragh O’Brien TD, signed an order formally establishing the AHBRA on 1 February 2021. AHBRA was established to oversee the effective governance, financial management and performance of all voluntary and co-operative housing bodies.

A Board of nine members was appointed by the Minister on 11 February 2021. The Board members have extensive experience in housing, finance, law, and governance and were appointed following a process conducted by the Public Appointments Service.

The Board is responsible for setting the strategic direction of the organisation. The Chief Executive is responsible for the day-to-day management and administration of the Regulator.

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