The Act provides for the regulation of Approved Housing Bodies and includes Chapters on the registration procedures for Approved Housing Bodies and their entry onto the register, as well as the drafting and approval of standards.
The Act provides for existing AHBs approved under section 6 of the Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1992 to be deemed registered initially and to then apply to be retained on the register within a specified period depending on the number of dwellings the AHB is providing or managing.
The Act sets out the eligibility criteria for registration as an Approved Housing Body. The persons (bodies) must be a company with at least 5 directors, a registered society, a friendly society or a charitable trust with at least 5 trustees.
In addition, the persons (bodies) must include in their constitution the provision or management, in the State, of housing for the purpose of alleviating housing needs and provisions prohibiting the distribution of any surplus, profit, bonus or dividend to members or directors or other persons and requiring that its assets and profits be applied solely towards its primary object(s). The alleviation of housing needs means providing dwellings within the State for social housing, cost rental and affordable purchase schemes.
The Regulator is to establish and maintain a register of Approved Housing Bodies and set out where and when the register may be inspected. There are procedures for those persons (bodies) who wish to apply for registration as an AHB and set out what should be included in the application.
The Regulator may grant or refuse an application. Certain details are to be entered in the register where the Regulator grants an application. Where the Regulator proposes to refuse granting an application for registration the Regulator will give notice to the applicant stating the reasons for the decision.
The applicant may make representations on the matter. There are procedures where the Regulator decides to refuse an application and gives the AHB the right to appeal the decision.
Existing AHBs approved under section 6 of the Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1992 may be deemed registered. A body so deemed must pay the registration fee. The provision also allows the Regulator to seek information from an AHB deemed registered under this section at any stage as if they were an applicant.
A body deemed to be registered must apply for registration within a statutory period, in the case of an AHB providing or managing 300 or more dwellings within 12 months, a body providing or managing between 50 and 299 dwellings within 2 years, and a body providing or managing less than 50 dwellings within 3 years. The Regulator may extend the time period for application if the Regulator considers that complying with the deadlines would be unduly onerous on the body concerned. The grounds where the deemed registration of a body shall be cancelled are where:
- the Regulator has refused registration and no appeal has been made;
- the Regulator has refused registration and an appeal is withdrawn or abandoned;
- the Regulator has refused registration and the decision of the Regulator is upheld following an appeal or
- the body deemed to be registered has not applied for registration within the statutory period or within any extension of that period by the Regulator.
A person who knowingly provides false or misleading information to the Regulator as part of an application will be guilty of an offence. It is an offence for a person to describe himself or herself as an AHB unless his or her name is entered on the register.
Notice to Regulator
An AHB must notify the Regulator of certain events, including if it no longer satisfies any of the eligibility criteria, where it is aware of an intention to strike off the company or to cancel the registry of a registered or friendly society or revoke a charitable trust. An AHB is also obliged to notify the regulator if it enters examinership. An AHB, which is a company, must notify the Regulator when a receiver is appointed, or the company is being wound up or there is a petition to wind up the company.
If the AHB fails to notify the Regulator of certain events, it shall be guilty of an offence. The Regulator will enter on the register details of non-compliance with an approved standard(s).
Compliance & Appeal
An AHB may submit further compliance plans, which the Regulator may approve or reject. An AHB may appeal a decision by the Regulator to reject the compliance plan within 21 days. If a compliance plan is approved, the entry in the register in respect of non-compliance with an approved standard is removed, and an entry made stating a plan has been approved, including details of the plan.
The Regulator shall enter on the register details of a non-implementation notice. An AHB can apply to the Regulator to have such an entry removed. The Regulator shall remove such an entry where it is satisfied that a compliance plan has been implemented.
Cancellation of Registration of AHB
There are provisions for cancellation of the registration of an AHB at its request. Where it makes such a request, it must give the Regulator such information as the Regulator requires, particularly information as to how it proposes to fulfil its contractual arrangements with the housing authority and any proposals relating to dwellings provided or managed in the pursuance of its primary objectives.
In considering cancellation of an AHB’s registration, the Regulator shall consult any housing authority in whose area the AHB is providing or managing dwellings. An AHB may appeal a decision by the Regulator.
The Regulator may cancel a registration on the following grounds – that the AHB:
- has been convicted of an offence under the Act or any other indictable offence;
- has failed or is failing to comply with any provisions under the Act;
- no longer satisfies the eligibility criteria for registration as an AHB or
- is deemed to be an AHB and has been deregistered.
There are procedures that the Regulator must pursue in cancelling a registration, including allowing the AHB to make representations and allowing an AHB to appeal the decision to cancel the registration. There is a provision for the cancellation of a registration where an AHB ceases to exist. The Act sets out the procedures to be followed for the removal of information from the register following the cancellation of a registration.