Approved housing bodies
What is an approved housing body (AHB)?
Approved housing bodies (AHBs) are independent, not-for-profit organisations. They provide affordable rented housing for people who cannot afford to pay private sector rents or buy their own homes. Some AHBs provide housing specifically for particular groups of people, such as older people or homeless people. AHBs are also known as housing associations.
The term AHB also includes housing co-operatives. Housing co-operatives are housing organisations that are controlled by their tenants. The tenants or members of these co-operatives share responsibility for the management and upkeep of their homes.
AHB's are known as approved housing bodies because they are approved under the Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1992. This allows them to access assistance from local authorities to provide housing.
What services do AHB's provide?
There are approximately 500 approved housing bodies in Ireland. They vary in size and in the services that they provide. As well as providing affordable rented housing, AHBs aim to encourage and promote community engagement and development.
AHBs get government funding from local authorities to provide affordable rented housing. They use this funding to:
- Build new homes
- Buy existing homes
- Lease private homes
Some AHBs were established by existing caring organisations to provide services to specific groups, such as older people, people with disabilities or homeless people. Some offer non-housing services, such as group meals, social activities and welfare advice.
Some AHBs help people who want to return to live in Ireland. For example, Safe-Home Ireland helps older Irish-born emigrants living in rented accommodation abroad, who want to return home, but cannot afford their own accommodation.
How to apply for housing with an AHB
If you want to be housed by an AHB, you need to be on the local authority housing waiting list in your area. To get on the waiting list you need to apply for, and be approved for social housing support.
To qualify for social housing support you must be eligible for and in need of social housing. You must be able to show that:
- Your income is below a certain level
- You do not have suitable alternative accommodation
- Your current accommodation is unsuitable
Read more about how to qualify for social housing support and how to apply in our page applying for local authority housing.
Completing the social housing application form
If you want to be considered for housing provided by an AHB, make sure you tick the box marked 'approved housing body (AHB)' in the ‘Housing Requirements’ section of the social housing application form.
Your local authority will be able to tell you if there are approved housing bodies in your area. In most cases, the local authority will refer you to an AHB if an appropriate home comes up. A very small number of AHBs may accept direct applications.
If you need help filling out the social housing application form, you can contact your local Citizens Information Centre or your local authority for help.
How are AHBs regulated and what are their responsibilities?
Approved housing bodies are regulated by 2 organisations. The Approved Housing Bodies Regulatory Authority (AHBRA) oversees the management and performance of AHBs, ensuring that public investment in AHB housing is protected. The Residential Tenancies Board (RTB) ensures that the rights and responsibilities of AHB landlords and tenants are protected.
The Approved Housing Bodies Regulatory Authority (AHBRA)
The Approved Housing Bodies Regulatory Authority (AHBRA) was established in 2021. It is responsible for regulating approved housing bodies. It oversees the administration, financial management and performance of AHBs. Its functions include:
- Maintaining a register of AHBs
- Developing standards for AHBs and ensuring that they are met
- Monitoring and investigating AHBs
Registering with the AHBRA
The AHBRA took over responsibility for the AHB register on 1 January 2022. Previously, the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage maintained a register of AHBs. AHBs on the old register were automatically transferred onto the new one and were ‘deemed registered’.
These AHBs still need to register directly with the AHBRA, as there are additional requirements to the new register. But, they have been given an extended timeframe to do this. The length of time a ‘deemed registered AHB’ is given to register with AHBRA depends on the number of homes they provide or manage. You can find this information in the AHBRA’s Registration Policy (pdf).
The AHBRA's registration process is slightly different for new AHBs applying to register with them.
All AHBs should contact the AHBRA to discuss their applications before beginning the registration process. The AHBRA can give advice about the registration process, eligibility criteria, application forms and information requirements.
Residential Tenancies Board (RTB)
The Residential Tenancies Board (RTB) is responsible for regulating the rental sector. It maintains a national register of tenancies and provides a dispute resolution service for tenants and landlords.
AHB’s have the same rights and obligations as private landlords. For example, they must register their tenancies every year with the RTB. AHB tenants have the same rights and obligations as private tenants, with some exceptions.
The Residential Tenancies (Amendment) Act 2015 brought AHB tenancies under the remit of the RTB and means that these tenancies are covered by residential tenancies legislation.