Senin, 27 September 2010

...and now we return to our scheduled content

It would be remiss of us to allow an entire Social Housing Month to pass without a single reference to Community Housing ... and given the lack of attention we've paid to it so far on the Brown Couch, it's high time we gave it a run. Besides, there's an awful lot going on at the moment.

For instance, about 3000 government managed properties are being transferred from HNSW into the hands of various Community Housing Providers (CHPs). In some cases even ownership of properties is being handed over, allowing some CHPs to do their own wheeling and dealing (as long as it's done in accordance with recent amendments to the Housing Act). This is great news for the sector, because it increases management portfolios and gives providers access to finance ... and potential for independent development and growth. Well, so goes the theory.

Of course it would be a disaster for the Government if, after handing over a whole bunch of their properties, the community housing sector fell apart. Given the rate of growth and the additional responsibilities some providers are expected to take on, that's not so far fetched. Thankfully, our clever politicians have already thought about this, and have devised a cunning plan. To make sure it doesn't all end in tears, a new 'Regulatory Code for Community Housing Providers' now applies to all CHP who receive Government assistance (such as funding or housing stock). To make sure all CHPs religiously follow the Code, the Government has created the office of Registrar of Community Housing, to keep an eye on things.

Established in May 2009, the Registrar was given two years to make sure all affected CHPs are properly registered. In order to register (and hang on to their government assistance), CHPs are required to meet the Code's 8 performance criteria - these are mostly about sound money management and good corporate governance, but 'fairness and resident satisfaction' also gets a mention. Once registered, CHPs must continue to meet these expected standards. If they don't, the Registrar can cancel their registration and force them to give back government funding and/or housing stock.

The two-year registration phase will soon be up, so the focus is now shifting to compliance. In fact, the Registrar has just released a draft 'Compliance Framework' for consultation. It outlines a risk based approach to compliance, suggesting a scheme of regular and ad hoc compliance reviews, with a range of triggers for an unscheduled review. To have your say on the proposed Compliance Framework, you'll need to get your comments to the Registrar by November 10th 2010. Download the document for more information.