The oversight of Approved Housing Bodies (AHBs) is currently conducted through the Voluntary Regulation Code (the Code), "Building for the Future, A Voluntary Regulation Code for Approved Housing Bodies in Ireland" which is underpinned by three standards: Financial, Governance and Performance. The Code is overseen by an interim Regulatory Committee supported by a Regulation Office which is based in the Housing Agency.
The Regulation Office’s Governance Standard (Principle 4) sets out that “No individual should be elected or appointed as a director or trustee of an organisation, or retain such a position, where he or she has any direct material interest of significance in relation to the income or any other benefit derived from any commercial contract or other arrangements for the construction of houses for the approved housing body, or in the supply of goods and services to the approved housing body”.
Under the voluntary framework, the use of the word “should” represents recommended best practice. Therefore, this does not represent a requirement of the Standard and is not based on a legal, statutory, or regulatory requirement.
In December 2019, the Housing (Regulation of Approved Housing Bodies) Act 2019 was signed in to law. This Act provides for, amongst other things, the establishment of a Regulator to oversee the effective governance, financial management and performance of voluntary and co-operative housing bodies. Section 37 of the Act provides for the drafting and adoption of standards for AHBs.
The Regulator will publish draft standards on its website and must consider any representations made by any persons before finalising these standards and submitting them for Ministerial approval. The standards will cover issues of governance, financial management and reporting, property and asset management and tenancy management.
The Act sets out that the governance standard may, in particular, provide for the membership and governance structure of an AHB, the procedures for decision making, the management of conflicts of interest and a code of conduct for the board of an AHB.
Separately, credit union policies are a matter for the Minister for Finance. His Department has advised that Part IV of the Credit Union Act 1997 (as amended) details the persons who are ineligible to be a director of a credit union.