By Alison Sadler, Lawyer
The Federal government has committed to providing $375.3 million over three years from 2018-2019 onwards toward the provision of homelessness support services, to be matched by the States and Territories. To ensure your organisation can access this funding, it should register as a housing provider with the National Regulatory System for Community Housing (NRSCH) as registration may be a precondition to receiving funding.
This article will set out the role of the NRSCH, eligibility for registration, the national regulatory code, and the registrar’s powers.
The NRSCH was established through consistent State and Territory legislation, known as the National Law. In 2012, the New South Wales Parliament enacted the National Law by passing the Community Housing Providers (Adoption of National Law) Act 2012 (NSW) (Act). The Act commenced on 1 January 2014.
The NRSCH was established to deliver a well-governed and well managed national community housing sector that meets the housing needs of tenants, and provides assurance to the government and investors.
Registration with the NRSCH is available to all non-government entities that deliver housing for people on low or moderate income, or for people with additional needs (e.g. the person may not be able to live independently without support).
Eligibility for Registration
Currently there is no obligation for community housing providers to be registered with the NRSCH. Government policy and funding agencies, however, may make registration a precondition for receiving funding or investment, and for delivering funded housing services.
For a community housing provider to become and remain registered with the NRSCH, the community housing provider must meet the standard conditions of registration, as well as any relevant requirements under the State or Territory community housing laws in any jurisdiction in which it operates.
The standard conditions of registration with the NRSCH are as follows:
- an appropriate corporate structure for the proposed tier of registration;
- a clause in the organisation’s constitution which ensures that in the event of winding-up and/or deregistration, surplus assets remaining after the payment of liabilities continue to be available for social housing;
- maintenance of a list of all community housing assets in a form approved by the registrar;
- providing the registrar with any information about the exercise of the organisation’s functions, including arrangements with other parties;
- ensuring a suitably qualified officer attends any meetings requested in writing by the registrar;
- allowing the registrar to carry out inspections at any reasonable time of the organisation’s premises or records;
- notifying the registrar of the following occurrences as soon as practicable:
- a decision to appoint a voluntary administrator or to wind up the organisation;
- the appointment of a receiver to the organisation;
- a decision to apply for the cancellation of the organisation’s registration;
- a change in the organisation’s affairs that could adversely impact its compliance with the relevant community housing legislation;
- a decision to conduct a vote at a meeting on a matter that could affect the organisation’s eligibility for registration; and
- demonstrating capacity to meet and achieve ongoing compliance with the National Regulatory Code.
The registrar may impose additional standard conditions of registration on any organisation when determining an application or issuing a notice in writing to the organisation.
Once registered as a community housing provider, your organisation will be placed on a national register in one of three tiers according to the scope, scale and complexity of your activities.
For further information about tiers and the eligibility requirements, please visit the NRSCH website.
The National Regulatory Code
Community housing providers must ensure that they comply with the National Regulatory Code (Code) at all times. The Code sets out the performance requirements that community housing providers must comply with under the National Law.
The Code emphasises the achievement of outcomes in the following areas:
- tenant and housing services;
- housing assets;
- community engagement;
- management; and
- financial viability.
The governing body and management of the community housing provider are responsible for ensuring the organisation complies with the National Law.
The registrar will monitor the performance of the community housing provider, intervene when non-compliance occurs, and cancel the registration of non-compliant community housing providers.
The registrar will only take enforcement action if non-compliance is significant and requires more than regulatory engagement to ensure compliance is achieved.
In summary, your organisation should consider whether it should register as a community housing provider with the NRSCH, as registration may be a precondition to receiving funding. Community housing providers can apply for national registration via an online application form. Please note that registration may take up to three months.
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