Housing Registrar newsletter - July 2022

Welcome to the July edition of the Housing Registrar Quarterly.

From the Registrar

Welcome to the July edition of the Housing Registrar Quarterly.

Victoria’s community housing sector continues its generational growth and reform journey whilst navigating the ongoing challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic and the changing economic environment. In this environment, the Housing Registrar remained focused on delivering risk-based, proportionate, and outcomes focused regulation, whilst progressing our regulatory reform agenda to strengthen the Victorian system. These priorities are reflected in the Housing Registrar’s 2022-24 Corporate Plan, which recognises this journey and aims to complement the potentially much wider reform agenda for the social housing system in response to the Social Housing Regulation Review’s (the SHRR) Final Report due later in the year.

The SHRR’s findings to date emphasise that tenants and prospective tenants are the ultimate beneficiary of the system, and we must continue to look for opportunities to listen to, engage with, and respond to feedback from tenants and prospective tenants in delivering services. On 7 June 2022, we participated in the QShelter information session for the Housing and Homelessness Services Sector, alongside David Hayward (Chair of SHRR) and Terry Green (QLD NRSCH Registrar) on a panel to discuss the importance of tenant participation and strategies for capturing tenant voice.

Further to Victorian Government’s $5.3 billion Big Housing Build initiative, the 2022-23 Budget provides an additional $1 billion in low­­-interest loans and Government guarantees available to community housing agencies to deliver social and affordable housing. This will create up to 6,000 new social and affordable houses, serving the needs of vulnerable Victorians.

We have recently released the Sector Performance Report: 2020-21. As at 30 June 2021, the sector owned $4.04 billion in housing assets (up 8.9 per cent), delivered rental housing services to 21,167 homes (up 3.8 per cent) and employed 1,630 people. Performance highlights of the sector for 2020-21 included:

  • strong compliance outcomes across performance standards
  • continued high resolution rates for complaints
  • continued high tenant satisfaction in housing services.

In addition to the Sector Performance Report: 2020-21, we have also recently published:

Best practice transparency and performance reporting continues to be a priority for the Housing Registrar to promote market confidence, attract growth and raise the reputation of the sector. In early 2022, we conducted a gap analysis against Scottish and English regulators’ publications. Identified improvement areas to enhance readability and financial analysis have been incorporated into the Sector Performance Report: 2020-21.

We have listened to your feedback, and enhancements to the Housing Registrar’s Community Housing Information Management and Engagement System (CHiMES) and Financial Performance Report (FPR) tool are well underway. These updates aim to improve the user experience and make regulatory reporting easier, provide better intelligence to support annual compliance assessments, and facilitate earlier release of compliance and financial data. This will also allow registered agencies to receive earlier and more responsive feedback on performance that can better inform business planning and improvement for the financial year ahead.

We thank you for your valuable feedback as part of the Housing Registrar annual sector feedback survey (for FY2021-22) which we will report on in the Regulatory Update Report to be published in September.

On behalf of the team, we look forward to continuing our engagement with you throughout 2022.

Yours sincerely

David Schreuder
Registrar of Housing Agencies

Registrations streamlining

Using funding received from the Victorian Government as part of the Regulation Reform Incentive Fund, we have commenced a project to make regulation simpler and faster.

The first stage of the project concluded on 4 May 2022 and delivered a report with recommendations for streamlining the registrations process, many of which will also improve the annual compliance assessment process. The second stage of the project was completed by 30 June 2022 and focussed on upgrading the Community Housing Information Management and Engagement System (CHiMES) from Salesforce Classic to Salesforce Lighting and implementing CHiMES enhancements.

Financial Performance Report enhancements

To provide a more efficient and user-friendly experience for the registered sector, we have been busy in recent months enhancing the Financial Performance Report (FPR) tool. It is expected that these improvements will:

  • streamline reporting requirements and improve efficiency for registered agencies
  • help the Registrar identify emerging risks associated with project delivery and sector growth.

Information sessions, held in June 2022 to assist agency users in the familiarisation with the new FPR, were well attended and will continue in July. Any feedback in our ongoing FPR improvement initiatives is welcome via email at housingregistrar@dtf.vic.gov.au

Sector Performance Report

The Sector Performance Report: 2020-21 has been published, providing a detailed analysis of the registered sector’s financial and non-financial performance for the 2020-21 financial year.

To inform better practice for Housing Registrar’s public performance reporting, we have conducted a gap analysis against Scottish and English regulators’ publications. We have identified areas of continuous improvement on the report. This included:

  • enhancing readability by breaking up the content and using more visuals where possible
  • improving financial analysis by providing a breakdown, by funder, of capital grant income and debt commitments.

Corporate plan

The 2022-24 Corporate Plan has been published, setting the strategic direction for the Housing Registrar over the period of 1 July 2022 to 30 June 2024. The plan was developed in line with the vision, purpose and principles of the strategic framework, and the key themes of the current regulatory environment:

  • tenants at the centre
  • regulating in a time of change
  • Aboriginal cultural safety.

Looking forward, our priorities include:

  1. increasing the efficiency and capability of the Housing Registrar with a view to organisational excellence
  2. leveraging data and intelligence to improve tenant outcomes and experience and contribute to better regulation
  3. strengthening strategic partnerships and engagement.

Reminder: Annual reporting

On 30 March 2022, amendments to the Housing Act 1983 (the Act) came into effect which amended reporting requirements for registered agencies.

The below table summarises the reporting requirements for the upcoming 2021-22 compliance assessment cycle. However, we encourage registered agencies to submit reports early, if they are ready before the due date.

Deadline Reporting requirement
As soon as practicable after 30 June 2022
  • Enter the date of the registered agency’s Annual General Meeting (AGM) on the CHiMES homepage
  • Confirm to the registered agency’s assigned lead regulator that the asset list in CHiMES is correct as at 30 June 2022
  • Review Agency Profile details in CHiMES and update as required
31 August 2022
  • Key Performance Measure report
  • Self-assessment against Business Plan 2021-22
  • Business Plan 2022-23
31 October 2022
  • 'Performance against performance standards' report (board certified)
14 days after the registered agency’s AGM
  • Audited financial accounts as at 30 June 2022
  • Financial Performance Report
  • Annual declarations

Guidance note for board certification

A Guidance note - Board certification of performance against performance standards was issued on 30 June 2022.

As a result of amendments to the Act, registered agencies are now required to have 'performance against performance standards' report certified by their board prior to submission to the Housing Registrar, due 31 October annually.

We have developed this guidance note to help registered agencies’ governing bodies with the certification process during the annual compliance assessments.

Recording H2H Initiative Properties and Allocations in CHiMES for 2021-22

In 2021 the Victorian Government’s From Homelessness to a Home (H2H) initiative commenced, providing access to stable housing and support services for people experiencing homelessness who were residing in emergency accommodation during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Under the initiative, the Director of Housing purchased properties specifically for the H2H program (leased to agencies under the H2H Interim General Lease). Managing agencies were also funded to head lease properties from the private rental market.

As the lease terms to date have been limited to 18 months for both Director-owned and head leased properties, the allocations made to these properties are to be captured as ‘transitional housing’ in the CHiMES asset list and KPM report for the 2021-22 year (and therefore the properties are also to be recorded as ‘transitional’). This will also ensure greater consistency with the allocations captured through the Victorian Housing Register (as the clients housed in these dwellings have not had their allocation recorded in that system).

If you have any questions about specific H2H properties and how they are to be classified, please contact Homes Victoria at vhrpropertylist@homes.vic.gov.au.

Resourcing changes in the Housing Registrar

The Housing Registrar is currently undertaking recruitment activities and we are looking forward to introducing the new team members to you soon.

We also recently farewelled Cheng Yu (Financial Analyst) who made a significant contribution during his time with the Housing Registrar. We wish him all the best!