A new era for regulation – the Approved Housing Bodies Regulatory Authority

AHB boards should be preparing for the implementation of a new housing regulatory framework in Ireland


Image: Istock

Susanna Lyons


The Approved Housing Bodies Regulatory Authority (AHBRA) was established on 1 February 2021 as an independent body, charged with the regulation of AHBs, for the purposes of protecting housing assets provided or managed by such bodies.

AHBRA will seek to establish a regulatory framework that will deliver effective oversight of the governance, financial management and reporting, property and asset management, and tenancy management of all AHBs, in accordance with powers and functions set out in the Housing (Regulation of Approved Housing Bodies) Act 2019 (the Act).

AHBRA’s powers and functions are being commenced on a phased basis during 2021 and 2022, and it is anticipated to become operational in early 2022.

The Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage, Darragh O’Brien TD, appointed nine members to the board of AHBRA in February 2021, with Edward Lewis appointed as chairperson. Detailed biographies of all board members are available on the AHBRA website.

Regulatory functions of AHBRA

The key functions of the AHBRA as set out in the legislation are to:

  • Establish and maintain a register of AHBs
  • Register persons as AHBs
  • Prepare draft standards for approval by the Minister and publish
  • Monitor and assess compliance by AHBs
  • Carry out investigations in accordance with the Act
  • Protect tenants and AHBs and cancel the registration of AHBs
  • Encourage and facilitate the better governance, administration and management, including corporate governance and financial management, of AHBs
  • Promote awareness and understanding of the Act
  • Collect information concerning AHBs for the purposes of the performance of its functions
  • Publish such information (including statistical information) concerning AHBs, as appropriate

Key Deliverables 2021

2021 is seen largely as an implementation and build period, with AHBRA anticipated to be fully operational in 2022. Some key milestones to date include:

  • Series of educational webinars conducted with key stakeholders
  • Launch of AHBRA website
  • Strategy Statement submitted for ministerial approval
  • Commencement of the Drafting of Standards process
  • Regulatory Standards stakeholder engagement, including AHB Focus Groups
“AHB boards are actively encouraged to familiarise themselves with the Act and the key requirements outlined. Understanding these requirements should be an essential objective for all AHBs during 2021.”

Current and next steps

The drafting of Regulatory Standards in line with the Act is an important next step. The Act requires regulatory standards to be drafted in relation to:

  • The governance of AHBs
  • The financial management of, and financial reporting by AHBs
  • Property and asset management by AHBs
  • Tenancy management by AHBs

The publication of draft standards will be supported by a series of webinars to provide further opportunities for engagement on the draft standards. The Act also allows for the making of representations on the draft standards over a 28-day period following their publication. AHBRA will consider these before submitting a final draft set of Standards to the Minister in December 2021.

AHBRA will continue to progress the development of our regulatory functions. Our teams will also conduct a series of educational webinars throughout autumn/winter relating to our regulatory functions, including legislation, registration, standards and regulatory approach.

AHB boards are actively encouraged to familiarise themselves with the Act and the key requirements outlined. Understanding these requirements should be an essential objective for all AHBs during 2021. To support this learning, all AHBs are strongly encouraged to join the mailing list to receive AHBRA information and invites to educational webinars by emailing communications@ahbregulator.ie


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