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Approved Housing Body Regulation

Important Communication: AHBs and COVID-19

In keeping with government advice, our staff at the Regulation Office are working remotely. Business as usual will continue largely unaffected. The most efficient way to reach us at the moment is by email at regulation@housingagency.ie   

 

Key considerations for large and medium sized AHBs during COVID-19

The Regulation Office has issued a document outlining 6 key areas for consideration for AHBs during the coronavirus pandemic.  

 

Important Information regarding Regulatory Approach and Notifiable Events during Coronavirus (COVID-19)

The Irish Government have escalated the national response to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and continue to introduce additional measures to limit the spread of virus, alongside the implementation of economic measures to help those impacted.

The Regulation Office recognise the unprecedented circumstances that AHBs are facing as a consequence of the pandemic and that you will be working very hard to manage and mitigate the impact on your operations and to safeguard your staff, tenants, those who are homeless and other service users.  We acknowledge and appreciate that this means that AHBs will be prioritising that work over other more routine activity.  As such, we are now aligning the Voluntary Regulatory Environment to these new circumstances. 

Reporting the impact of Coronavirus (COVID-19)

It is vital that AHBs continue to monitor and manage the risks to both Business Continuity and Financial Viability caused by COVID-19. AHBs should continue to use our Notifiable Events process to report any emerging issues or significant concerns (as soon as you become aware of them) caused by the impacts of COVID-19. These could include, but are not limited to:

  • Impact on staffing which may limit the organisations ability to deliver key services
  • Impact on service delivery due to breakdown in contracts
  • Issues concerning Tenant Safety
  • Impact on rental income and arrears
  • Cashflow and liquidity issues impacting Financial Viability
  • Impact on current delivery of new social housing

Changes to our regulatory approach

To ensure that AHBs continue to focus on the delivery of services and prioritise the health and well-being of staff and tenants, the Regulation Office has changed its approach until further notice which means:

  • We are postponing the issuance of Regulatory Assessment Reports for AHBs, other than for the most serious cases. 
  • We are postponing all Annual Regulatory Meetings but the most serious regulatory engagements to allow AHBs and us to focus on the most serious existing risks or those that emerge from the current pandemic.
  • Where AHBs wish to conduct a Regulatory meeting we shall accommodate via conference call only.
  • AHBs are required to inform the Regulation Office via Notifiable Events as outlined above.

We will continue to work closely with the DHPLG and representative bodies to coordinate our response to the current situation.

Please contact the Regulation Office at regulation@housingagency.ie if you have any questions on this.

 

The Regulatory Framework

The Regulatory Framework for Approved Housing Bodies (AHBs) outlines the functions of the Regulation Office. It provides an overview of the annual regulatory return and assessment process.

Currently, regulation of the sector is based on the Voluntary Regulation Code (the Code) and three additional Standards. The Regulation Office has developed these Standards in consultation with the sector.

The Financial Standard  was revised in October 2019 and provides for robust financial regulation of the sector. Since the publication of the original Financial Standard in 2015, the Regulation Office has gained significant insights and a deeper understanding of the sector and the diversity within it. This revised Financial Standard has been developed with these key learnings in mind.

 

The Performance Standard was published in December 2018. It defines and sets the standard for essential service performance from AHBs. This refers to arrangements for the delivery of tenancy, housing and asset management.

 

The Governance Standard (2017) sets out six principles of good governance. These build upon the existing principles of the VRC.

  

While the Code is voluntary, funding eligibility is aligned to those AHBs signed up to and demonstrating compliance with the Code, as per Department Circular 15/2016:

‘From 1 January 2017, in addition to the requirement to have signed up to the Code, only those AHBs that are able to demonstrate commitment to and engagement with both the VRC [Voluntary Regulatory Code] and the Financial Standard and Assessment Framework, having undergone a satisfactory assessment as part of the annual assessment process by the Regulation Office will be considered eligible for funding.’