Households wishing to obtain social housing support from a local authority or an approved housing body (AHB) must first apply to the relevant local authority for a social housing assessment. Where the household is deemed qualified for support, it is placed on the housing authority’s waiting list and offers of suitable accommodation are made in accordance with the authority’s allocation scheme as they arise.
The allocation scheme is made by the elected members under section 22 of the Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2009 and in compliance with Social Housing Allocation Regulations made thereunder, and specifies, among other things, the manner of, and the order of priority for, the allocation of dwellings to households on the housing and transfer lists. Under section 22, an allocation scheme shall apply to dwellings owned or under the control of a local authority, as well as dwellings provided by an AHB with Exchequer funding.
Where a vacancy arises in a dwelling owned by an AHB, the relevant local authority may nominate suitable households from its housing or transfer list to that body, having regard to the order of priority set out in its allocation scheme.
If an AHB is in receipt of funding under a relevant Exchequer funding scheme, they must comply with the terms and conditions of that scheme. Under such funding schemes (made available through local authorities), the AHB is required to make the property available for social renting for the duration of the mortgage or, as the case may be, the availability agreement.
It is a matter for the governing board of an individual AHB to determine how property, which is solely owned by the AHB without any mortgage or debt funding in place, is allocated to tenants in accordance with their constitution. All AHB tenancies are registered with the Residential Tenancies Board (RTB) and therefore this channel should be the primary recourse in terms of procedures in any tenant/landlord matters.
As provided for in the Housing (Regulation of Approved Housing Bodies) Act 2019, the Approved Housing Bodies Regulatory Authority (AHBRA) was formally established on 1 February 2021. One of the objectives of AHBRA is to provide further assurances to investors, tenants, the Government and to the sector itself that social housing providers operate in a well-regulated and stable environment.
The Regulator can cancel the registration of an AHB on a number of different grounds. If the Regulator considers it necessary for the protection of tenants of dwellings, the Regulator will, by notice and with consent, require an AHB to transfer such dwellings to another AHB identified by the Regulator or to a Housing Authority if the Regulator considers it appropriate. The Regulator can also seek a High Court Order if it is necessary for the purpose of the protection of the tenants of dwellings provided or managed by an AHB.