The Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage, Darragh O’Brien TD, has approved the standards for Approved Housing Bodies (AHBs) which were submitted by the Approved Housing Bodies Regulatory Authority (AHBRA) in accordance with the provisions in the Housing (Regulation of Approved Housing Bodies) Act 2019.
Approved Housing Bodies are independent, not-for-profit organisations who, alongside Local Authorities, provide housing for people on the social housing waiting list or for particular groups, such as older people or homeless people. AHBs also include housing co-operatives, which are housing organisations controlled by their members/tenants who actively participate in setting their policies and making decisions.
450 AHBs across Ireland are responsible for more than 43,000 homes and there are an estimated 8,000 social homes in the AHB build pipeline. AHBs are expected to provide about 43% of the 9,000 new-build social homes and almost half of the 1,580 Cost Rental homes due to be completed this year.
These social homes and Cost Rental targets are contained in Housing for All, the Government’s national plan on housing to 2030. Cost Rental is a new form of State-backed secure, long-term rental tenure through which rents are aimed at a minimum of 25% below open market rates.
The Approved Housing Bodies Regulatory Authority (AHBRA) is an important element in support of this ambitious housing plan as it will oversee the effective governance, financial management and performance of all AHBs.
Approval of the draft standards marks an important milestone in the phased introduction of the powers and functions of AHBRA. The setting of standards is an integral part of the overall regulatory framework and functions of the Regulator.
The standards for AHBs have been developed following engagement with the sector and a wide range of key stakeholders. They are underpinned by the principles of proportionality, accountability and transparency. They establish a set of outcomes that AHBs are required to achieve in order to demonstrate the protection of housing assets provided or managed by AHBs.
AHBRA will publish the approved ‘Standards for AHBs’ on its website and all AHBs must comply with them. AHBRA will shortly prepare and issue guidance for AHBs to support the approved standards.
Minister O’Brien commented: “AHBRA and our AHBs will play a key role assisting the Department in meeting the objectives under Housing for All to enable a sustainable housing system in Ireland with a supply of good quality housing to match long-term needs, to promote social inclusion in our communities and to ensure that that existing housing stock is utilised to its fullest extent possible. Statutory regulation will provide further assurances to tenants, the public and potential investors that AHBs operate in a secure environment.
“I am pleased to approve the ‘Standards for AHBs’ and would encourage all AHBs to familiarize themselves with the standards and to prepare themselves for the introduction of regulation under a statutory framework,” he concluded.