“important to support bodies dedicated to providing the homes we need” – Keane

The Oireachtas Joint Committee on Environment, Culture and the Gaeltacht today published its Report on the General Scheme of the Housing (Regulation of Approved Housing Bodies) Bill 2015.

Welcoming the launch of the report, Senator Cáit Keane highlighted the importance of the Approved Housing body sector in providing further supply of good standard homes in the Irish housing market. “In these days when housing supply is such an issue, it is particularly important to support those bodies dedicated to providing the homes we need. It is equally important however, that the need for increased supply does not open the door for unsuitable construction projects. Our recent past has enough examples of unregulated builds. The housing market we are building now is one which is both sustainable and of a standard we should expect in a confident and prosperous Ireland.”

What follows is an overview of the reports findings:

The primary purpose of the proposed Bill will be to provide for the establishment of a regulatory framework for the Approved Housing Body sector in order to support financial viability and good governance within the sector while safeguarding public investment.

Some of the report’s findings, recommendations and conclusions include:

  • The Joint Committee broadly welcomes the General Scheme of the Bill, and is supportive of the establishment of a regulatory framework for the Approved Housing body sector and for a dedicated independent regulator. We believe this is necessary to ensure good governance within the sector, encourage private investment, and ensure accountability in respect of public monies invested by the State
  • The Committee does, however, have some concerns regarding the extent of the proposed powers of the regulator and whether the principle of proportionality has been fully integrated into these powers
  •  The Committee also has concerns regarding the potential loss of autonomy for AHBs if legislation results in the regulator becoming involved in the day-to-day management of the business activities of individual AHBs, rather than oversight of the sector as a whole
  • A process should be put in place before the enactment of legislation to allow bodies which are currently approved but not active in the management of or development of social housing to de-register

The Committee believes that the proposed sanctions for offences should be revisited and redrafted in a more proportionate manner. An unduly harsh regulatory regime could have a negative impact in terms of attracting and retaining volunteer board members within the sector