Housing associations (also called Approved Housing Bodies (AHBs) or voluntary housing associations) are independent, not-for-profit charities. They provide affordable rented housing for people who cannot afford to pay private sector rents or buy their own homes; or for particular groups, such as older people or homeless people.
Some housing associations are established by existing caring organisations that provide services to special needs groups such as older people or people with disabilities. Some associations also offer non-housing services such as group meals, social activities and welfare advice.
Housing co-operatives are organisations of tenants or owners where the members share responsibility for the management and upkeep of their homes. Tenant housing co-operatives are very similar to housing associations.
In order to be housed by a housing association, you must normally be registered on the local authority housing waiting list in your area and there may also be an income or means test.
Housing association tenants have basically the same rights as local authority tenants However, housing association tenants do not have the right to buy their homes.
The housing department of your local authority will be able to tell you if there are housing associations active in your area. Alternatively, you can search for contact information about housing associations here.
Housing associations usually house people whose names are on the local authority housing list. If you wish to be considered for accommodation provided by a housing association or other approved housing body, tick the box marked “voluntary/co-operative housing” on the application form when you are applying for social housing. Some housing associations may accept direct applications.
If you are on the local authority housing list your name may be passed to a housing association.
Some associations may accept applications. In this case, you apply directly to your chosen housing association. Each housing association has its own policy and qualifying conditions in relation to housing applicants.
The Irish Council for Social Housing can give you general information on housing associations.
NABCO, the National Association of Building Co-operatives, can give you general information about housing co-operatives.
If you have a question relating to this topic you can contact the Citizens Information Phone Service on 0761 07 4000 (Monday to Friday, 9am to 8pm) or you can visit your local Citizens Information Centre.