It will have the powers to undertake investigations into AHBs, if necessary, cancelling registration of AHBs, as appropriate and it has the right to seek court orders to protect AHB assets in certain circumstances.
The AHBRA is tasked with providing for the regulation of AHBs for the purposes of protecting certain housing assets provided or managed by such bodies.
It shall implement a regulatory framework, aligned to the legislation for the purposes of supporting stronger governance and the financial viability of the AHB sector, with a particular focus on safeguarding the significant public investment in the delivery of social housing by AHBs. It will aim to provide assurance to tenants, the public and potential investors that the sector is well regulated.
As above the powers and functions of the AHBRA are to be commenced on a phased basis.
For further information on our functions go to What we do section.
Encourage & Facilitate
A key function of the AHBRA is to encourage and facilitate the better governance, administration and management of AHBs. It will look to do this by providing information and advice to AHBs that will be of use to them in the performance of their duties. AHBRA will publish a series of guidance documents for AHBs over time, that cover areas such as corporate governance, financial management and both tenant and asset management. AHBRA will also conduct events and webinars providing further information and advice to the sector in specific areas relating to its functions.
Information & Records
Section 36 of the 2019 Act, provides the regulator with the powers to require information and records from AHBs enabling it to carry out its functions effectively. The AHBRA will collect information from AHBs that it considers necessary to perform those functions. It is anticipated that the collection of such information would be proportionate to the size, scale and activities of the AHB. This information will likely relate to AHB’s governance, financial performance, and performance relating to both tenant and asset management, as well as the AHB registration process.
Under the 2019 Act, AHBs are required to provide AHBRA with any such information and/or records that AHBRA deems necessary in the performance of its functions. Where an AHB fails to provide information or knowingly provides misleading information it shall be guilty of an offence under the Act.
Promotion and Awareness
The role of promoting awareness and understanding of the Act has already commenced. To date AHBRA has issued an FAQ document and has presented to a range of stakeholders, seeking to increase awareness and understanding of its key functions.
The AHBRA will hold a series of educational forums and webinars for the AHB sector throughout 2021 and into 2022. In addition, it will publish further information and guidelines in the months ahead as more powers and functions are commenced.
MOUs with Other Regulators
Section 23 of the 2019 Act, enables the Regulator to endeavour to secure administration cooperation with relevant regulators. AHBRA will seek to secure collaboration with other Regulators relevant to the AHB sector, in relation to their respective regulatory functions. The purpose of such agreements would be to ensure co-operation and consistency in decision making on measures been taken by the Regulators. Additionally, such co-operation and collaboration would seek to avoid duplication of activities by Regulators, where possible.
An important function for the new statutory regulator will be to establish and maintain an AHB register. All AHBs will initially be deemed as registered once the relevant sections of the legislation have been commenced. This means that each AHB will be subject to all aspects of the regulatory requirements.
Additionally, AHBs will then be required to apply to register with AHBRA on a phased basis dependent on their size. AHB boards should familiarise themselves with the registration process, including the criteria for registration, as laid out in the legislation.
For further information on the Registration to go the Registration Section.
The AHBRA is responsible for the drafting standards for AHBs covering matters relating to:
- the governance of AHBs
- the financial management of and financial reporting by AHBs
- property and asset management by AHBs
- tenancy management by AHBs
The legislation provides that the standards may make different provisions for different categories of registered AHBs taking into account, the nature, scale and complexity of the activities, the number of dwellings provided or managed by each category of AHB, the level of borrowings of each category of AHB and the level of financial risk associated with each category of AHB.
The regulator will publish the draft Standards on its website to allow for representations to be made over a 28-day period, in accordance with the legislation.
For further information go the About the Standards section.
Standards assessment and compliance plans
A key function of the AHBRA will be to monitor compliance by AHBs with the standards and the legislation itself. Where there is evidence of non-compliance, the Regulator may require an AHB to submit a compliance plan.
The AHBRA shall implement a regulatory framework, aligned to the legislation relating to standards, evaluations, assessment and the application of a risk-based regulatory framework.
AHBRA will communicate with key stakeholders when the commencement of these section of the Act has been initiated.
The legislation also enables AHBRA to carry out investigations into AHBs’ affairs and, in certain circumstances, allows it to apply to the High Court for an Order to protect an AHB and its assets.
The Regulator may appoint inspectors to investigate the affairs of an AHB where it considers it necessary to do so for the purposes of the performance of any of its functions. Inspectors are provided with a broad range of powers to access and inspect information. Inspectors are required to submit a report to the Regulator detailing their investigation findings.
Enforcement – High Court
The Regulator has the power to seek a High Court Order in certain circumstances. While the Court has a broad discretion in relation to the type of Order it may grant, examples include the removal or suspension of any director or officer or employee of the AHB, the appointment of other people to be a director or officer of the AHB and prohibiting the removal or sale of the property of the AHB without the Regulator’s consent.
The legislation allows for AHBs to appeal certain decisions made by the Regulator to an independent Appeals Panel established by the Minister. These decisions relate to the Regulator’s exercise of its powers in relation to registration, compliance plans or cancellation of registration.