Governance Standards: Thoughts from Ireland
In Ontario’s current housing system, there are no common standards that housing providers are required to meet across Service Manager areas. However, these could be introduced as part of the new modernized framework for social housing that the Ministry of Housing is currently consulting on.
As housing providers consider what province-wide standards could look like, it could be helpful to take a look at standards that housing providers are subject to in other countries or jurisdictions.
For example, the Irish government has introduced a voluntary regulatory code that requires housing providers to meet certain standards in order to be eligible for government funding. These standards fall into three categories (financial, governance and performance management), and there are varying levels of requirements depending on the size of the organization and whether or not they have plans for development.
ONPHA has previously written about Ireland’s regulatory code, and the common standards that form the foundation of the framework. Revisit information ONPHA has shared about Ireland’s financial standards, and read on for more information about the country’s specific governance standards.
What are Ireland’s governance standards for housing providers?
Ireland’s governance standards focus on the activities of the housing provider’s Board. They were created to ensure that boards are focused on organizational sustainability, and that they have a plan for where they want to head in the future.
For smaller providers without major development plans, the Board must:
- Be fully functioning and properly constituted
- Have a list of functions
- Meet at least four times annually, and hold an Annual General Meeting
- Have approved policies and procedures
- Record organizational roles and responsibilities
- All have the same legal status (one member, one vote)
- Appoint a Company Secretary (or person with that function)
- Record decisions
- Have a chair that is not an employee of the organization
- Act in the interest of the organization
- Avoid conflicts of interest
- Have a minimum of five members
- Have maximum term limits of 10 years
- Act in the organization’s best interest and place this above personal or professional interests
- Maintain high standards of probity and conduct
- Have oversight of financial governance and viability
- Ensure adequate resources to meet current and long-term commitments
- Operate a risk register
- Ensure organizational compliance with constitutional, legal, regulatory and compliance obligations
For larger, more complex housing providers or those with development plans, the Board must meet the standards listed above and must also:
- List the Board’s essential functions
- Provide vision, leadership, strategy and oversight
- Have a strategic plan
- Delegate operational management (where the organization has staff)
- Divide responsibilities between the Chair and Chief Executive (or equivalent) (where the organization has staff)
- Record relationships with related parties
- Have contracts to govern transactions between independent legal entities
- Identify and manage organizational risk
Beyond these requirements, there are also several recommended “best practices” that housing providers should be meeting. More information about Ireland’s governance standards and best practices for housing providers can be found here.
We will cover Ireland’s performance standards for housing providers in a future post.