Under Section 6 of the Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1992, housing authorities may provide assistance to Approved Housing Bodies (AHBs) for the provision and management of housing accommodation. As Minister, I am empowered to grant approved status to housing bodies for this purpose.
AHBs are, by definition, non-profit, independent legal entities with independent governance structures. Each AHB must have a properly functioning governing body, or board of directors/trustees, which is directly responsible for the commissioning of housing projects and services, the ownership, management and maintenance of dwellings and compliance with all statutory regulations.
The oversight of AHBs is currently conducted through the Voluntary Regulation Code - Building for the Future, A Voluntary Regulation Code for Approved Housing Bodies in Ireland. The Code is overseen by the Interim Regulation Committee (IRC), supported by the Regulation Office, based in the Housing Agency. The organisation referred to has signed up for voluntary regulation since it was first introduced in September 2013.
My Department has recently received correspondence purporting to be from unnamed staff and former staff members of the organisation concerned and this has been referred to the Regulation Office. Subsequently, a response issued from my office to the email address provided. The Regulation Office is currently in engagement with the organisation concerned as part of the assessment process for AHBs. My Department has also written to the organisation concerned emphasising the need for full cooperation with the Regulation Office.
I recently published the Housing (Regulation of Approved Housing Bodies) Bill 2019, which had already completed Oireachtas pre-legislative scrutiny. The Bill provides for the introduction of a new system of statutory regulation of AHBs for the purposes of supporting stronger governance and the financial viability of the sector, with a particular focus on safeguarding the significant public investment being made in the delivery of social housing by AHBs. Similarly, the Bill will provide assurance to tenants, the public and potential investors that the sector is well regulated. Subject to Oireachtas scheduling, it is my intention to progress this important legislation as a matter of priority with a view to enactment by the end of the year.