- 30 Aug 2022
The Regulatory Update Report 2021-22 provides information on the regulatory activities and performance of the Housing Registrar for the 2021-22 financial year, including delivery of the Corporate Plan 2020-22.
I am pleased to present the Housing Registrar’s Regulatory Update Report 2021–221.
This year the Housing Registrar delivered the Corporate Plan 2020–22 and published our Corporate Plan 2022–24, guided by three priorities of organisational excellence, better regulation and strong partnerships and engagement.
We focused our resources on streamlining processes and procedures to create efficiencies, becoming more targeted and risk-based, and improving the transparency and accountability of the regulatory system. This regulatory reform work reflects our commitment to delivering growth, capability building and continuous improvement in the community housing sector (the sector) that improves outcomes for current tenants and those many households on the Victorian Housing Register (VHR) awaiting housing allocation.
Under the Victorian regulatory system, the Housing Registrar assesses every registered agency against performance standards on an annual basis irrespective of size and scale to monitor performance and drive continuous improvement in the sector. We publicly report on outcomes of annual compliance assessments, including detailed performance information for every registered agency, and have the most transparent regulatory arrangements for community housing in Australia. These features of the regulatory system aim to deliver accountability, transparency and capacity building as well as giving tenants visibility over their landlord’s performance to encourage tenant participation.
In 2020–21, we delivered a range of reform projects to improve the efficiency and design of our compliance processes and systems to better target risks. These improvements have enabled us to publish performance information significantly earlier than previous years, in efforts to achieve best practice transparency – which we will continue to work on in coming years and refine.
In 2021–22, the sector actively participated in growth and development opportunities as part of the Victorian Government’s $5.3 billion Big Housing Build. To facilitate this growth, the Housing Registrar’s newly established Registrations and Sector Growth team undertook a comprehensive review of registration and compliance processes including the functionality of the systems that support them. This project was supported by funding from the Regulatory Reform Incentive Fund which will deliver efficiencies and savings for registered agencies and for new entrants participating in the system through more efficient and streamlined processes to drive economic activity.
In 2021–22, we registered four providers: Evolve Housing Vic Ltd, MCM Housing Limited, Assemble x HCA HA Ltd and BlueCHPV Limited. This is the most significant growth in sector size, from 40 to 43 providers, since 2009–10, which continues to add to the diversity and value proposition of the sector.2 We are continuing to work closely with the Aboriginal housing sector to support registration of Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations as part of the Homes for Aboriginal Victorians round.
The Big Housing Build will deliver significant growth in community housing over the next three years. Given this investment by government and the large construction pipeline, the Registrar must focus resources on ensuring the ongoing financial viability of the sector and enhance our intelligence to support more targeted regulatory activities. In 2021–22, we made changes to the financial information we collect from registered agencies to improve the quality, relevance and accuracy of financial data whilst reducing reporting burden on the sector. This project was accompanied by training delivered to the sector.
To support this unprecedented growth and funding in community housing, the Victorian Government commissioned an independent review of the Victorian regulatory system for social housing and final report provided to Ministers on 31 May 2022. Government will consider the review’s findings over the coming year. The review’s findings will pave the way for a significant reform journey for the social housing system in Victoria over the coming years.
On 7 July 2022, the Victorian Ombudsman tabled its report, Investigation into complaint handling in the Victorian social housing sector, which made recommendations for the Housing Registrar and government. This report highlighted some of the inconsistent practices in the sector and opportunities for creating consistency and promoting better complaints management.
The Housing Registrar will be producing best practice guidance and a model policy in 2022–23 working in collaboration with the Community Housing Industry Association Victoria (CHIA Vic). In 2021–22, we received 114 complaints and enquiries in relation to registered agencies. The main subject areas of these enquiries were:
- 30.7% tenancy management
- 25.4% neighbourhood disturbance
- 15.8% property maintenance
- 12.3% customer service
- 9.6% rent.
As part of our commitment to continuous improvement, we assess our own performance on an annual basis using a range of evidence sources, including sector surveys. We are grateful for receiving responses from all 42 registered agencies surveyed (100%) which was highly valuable for this self-assessment and for setting our forward work plan.3 The results of these surveys and how they are being incorporated into our workplan are set out in this report.
On behalf of the Office of the Housing Registrar, thank you for your engagement and we look forward to working closely with the sector in 2022–23.
Director, Housing Registrar
Registrar of Housing Agencies
1. The Sector Performance Report 2020–21 is published separately and contains detailed analysis of sector performance for the 2020–21 financial year from regulatory reporting received in 2021–22. Information on the Housing Registrar’s financial results is reported as part of financial statements in the Department of Treasury and Finance’s Annual Report.
2. One registered housing provider voluntarily de-registered in 2021–22 for a net growth of three registered agencies.
3. One registered agency was not sent the survey as it indicated its intention to merge with another registered agency and seek de-registration in 2022–23.
The Regulatory Update Report 2021-22 provides an overview of the activities and projects we have undertaken to deliver our Corporate Plan 2020-22.
This report also includes an assessment of our regulatory performance against six key performance indicators (KPIs). Where a KPI has not been fully met opportunities for improvement have been incorporated in our Corporate Plan 2022–24.
This year has seen the culmination of two reviews relating to the community housing sector – the Social Housing Regulation Review and the Victorian Ombudsman’s own motion investigation into complaints processes in the social housing sector. We have actively engaged in both review processes and welcome the opportunity to be part of, and contribute to, improvements for the Victorian regulatory system now and into the future.
The Big Housing Build is Victoria’s largest-ever investment in social and affordable housing, and as a key part of the social housing system, the community housing sector is experiencing significant growth. This growth is changing the composition and operations of the sector, with new entrants and an expansion of development activities. In 2021–22, we have also observed increased levels of grant funding and debt, changing the financial structure of the sector from one primarily funded by rent revenue and operational grants to a sector with diverse financial arrangements and revenue sources.
We continue to seek opportunities to ease the regulatory burden on registered agencies while streamlining our processes and improving transparency of compliance information and regulatory decisions. On 30 March 2022, amendments to the Housing Act 1983 (Vic) (the Act) came into effect, which amend reporting requirements for registered agencies to improve the efficiency of annual compliance assessments, ensure registered agency boards have oversight of the organisation’s regulatory performance and facilitate more timely publication of performance data. The amendments also extend the time for reporting changes to the Register of Housing Agencies to reduce burden on registered agencies. The Housing Registrar consulted with registered agencies and CHIA Vic prior to the introduction of these legislative amendments.
Our operations undertaken in 2021–22 have been delivered in the context of rapidly changing and sometimes competing priorities. We have aimed to be agile and adapt as required, as detailed throughout this report.
The registered sector as at 30 June 2022
- Aboriginal Housing Victoria Limited
- Common Equity Housing Ltd
- Community Housing (Vic) Ltd
- Housing Choices Australia Ltd
- Loddon Mallee Housing Services Ltd (trading as Haven; Home, Safe)
- HousingFirst Ltd
- Rural Housing Network Ltd (trading as BeyondHousing)
- Wintringham Housing Ltd
- Women’s Housing Ltd
- Unison Housing Ltd
- Assemble x HCA HA Ltd1
- Baptcare Affordable Housing Ltd
- BAYSA Ltd (trading as Barwon Youth)
- BlueCHPV Limited1
- Building Communities (Vic) Limited
- Centacare Housing Services Ltd
- EACH Housing Ltd
- Eastcoast Housing
- Evolve Housing Vic Ltd1
- Inner East Social Housing Group Ltd
- Launch Housing Ltd
- Mallee Accommodation and Support Program Ltd
- MCM Housing Limited1
- Mission Australia Housing (Victoria)
- National Affordable Housing Consortium – Vic Ltd
- Northcote Rental Housing Co operative Ltd
- Northern Geelong Rental Housing Co-operative Ltd
- Prahran/Malvern Community Housing Inc
- Salvation Army Housing (Victoria)
- Servants Community Housing Ltd
- South Port Community Housing Group Inc
- SouthEast Housing Cooperative Ltd
- St Kilda Community Housing Ltd
- Sunshine/St Albans Rental Housing Co-operative Ltd
- The Haven Foundation Ltd
- United Housing Co operative Ltd
- Uniting Housing (Victoria) Ltd (trading as Uniting Housing)
- Women’s Property Initiatives Ltd
- VincentCare Community Housing
- WAYSS Ltd
- West Turk Housing and Elderly Services Co-operative Ltd
- Williamstown Rental Housing Co operative Ltd
- YWCA Housing
Sector key highlights as at 30 June 2021
- 21,167 tenancy (rental) units under management
- 11,099 properties owned by the sector with a carrying value of $4.04 billion
- $376 million operating revenue, up 10% from the previous year
- $5.04 billion total assets, up 19% from the previous year
- 96.2% average occupancy rate.
In 2022–23, the Housing Registrar is anticipating:
- supporting the growth of the community housing sector through faster registration assessment and approval timeframes
- continuing to focus on tenants and identifying options to improve our understanding of tenant experiences
- strengthening financial modelling and forecasting to support more rigorous analysis
- working with Aboriginal organisations to facilitate the delivery of housing services for Aboriginal tenants
- focusing our compliance and investigation activities on areas of greatest impact for tenants
- continuing to deliver against our three priorities of organisational excellence, better regulation and strong partnerships and engagement through the Corporate Plan 2022–24.
1. Registered in 2021–22.
Our performance framework
In 2018-19, the Housing Registrar developed a regulatory performance framework identifying key performance indicators (KPIs).
The performance framework was developed to evaluate our performance and measure success against our organisational and strategic objectives, including to:
- ensure we support compliance activities through clear and effective communication and guidance to registered agencies and other stakeholders
- maximise our effectiveness and efficiency by continuously improving internal capability, regulatory practices and systems
- adopt a risk-based and proportionate approach to compliance activities
- understand the impact of our activities on registered agencies, supported by a strong awareness of the operating environment and organisations that we regulate
- contribute to the ongoing improvement of the regulatory framework
- maximise the value generated from the data we collect by disseminating it to the public, registered agencies and other stakeholders to inform decisions and generate insights.
With these objectives in mind, the Housing Registrar developed the following KPIs:
- Compliance, monitoring and enforcement activities are undertaken in a coordinated, streamlined and timely manner.
- Communications and engagement with registered agencies and other stakeholders are outcomes-driven, clear and timely.
- Regulatory and compliance risks are identified, closely monitored and proactively mitigated proportionate to the risks being managed.
- The regulator contributes to continuous improvement of the regulatory framework
- The regulator promotes transparency in the regulatory system and the sector
- The regulator does not unnecessarily impede the efficient operation of registered agencies.
To assess our performance against these KPIs, we have considered the range of activities undertaken in 2021–22 and mapped these against each KPI. These activities are presented in this report against each of our three strategic priorities. Our assessment is supported by a mix of quantitative and qualitative evidence from a range of sources and includes:
- results from feedback mechanisms (including the annual sector survey results)
- data that measures the timeliness and responsiveness of the Housing Registrar
- records of stakeholder engagement
- records of published guidance that assists registered agencies to comply with regulation
- internal records of performance metrics associated with KPIs.
Evaluation of evidence and self-assessment
We have considered our performance against each KPI through the monitoring of progress against each strategic priority using the following scale.
- Met: Performance met the targets.
- Somewhat met: Performance generally met the targets with some room for improvement.
- Not met: Targets not met, significant areas for improvement identified.
The Housing Registrar’s performance in 2021–22
The Housing Registrar has been assessed as having met five KPIs and ‘somewhat met’ one KPI.
|Key performance indicator
|1. Compliance, monitoring and enforcement activities are undertaken in a coordinated, streamlined and timely manner.
|2. Communications and engagement with registered agencies and other stakeholders are outcomes-driven, clear and timely.
|3. Regulatory and compliance risks are identified, closely monitored and proactively mitigated proportionate to the risks being managed.
|4. The regulator contributes to continuous improvement of the regulatory framework.
|5. The regulator promotes transparency in the regulatory system and the sector.
|6. The regulator does not unnecessarily impede the efficient operation of registered agencies.
Assessing our performance for continuous improvement
Overall, our self-assessment in 2021–22 is that we performed satisfactorily with some identified areas for improvement. We met five KPIs and ‘somewhat met’ one KPI (KPI 1) – compliance, monitoring and enforcement activities are conducted in a timely manner. The result for KPI 1 was due to the timeliness of annual compliance assessments and some of the associated public reporting. Although there was a significant improvement in timeliness from the previous year, feedback from registered agencies indicates that timeliness, particularly for communication of assessment outcomes, could be further improved. This contributed to the assessment against of ‘somewhat met’ for KPI 1.
The Corporate Plan 2022–24 identifies actions to improve the timeliness of communicating compliance outcomes to registered agencies and reporting this information publicly. This includes further streamlining our internal processes for annual compliance assessments to ensure best use of resources, and reviewing and improving our data capture and reporting systems. We will be monitoring progress against these actions throughout 2022–23.
The following section of the report contains a summary of the Housing Registrar’s progress, including key deliverables, against its three priority areas for the 2021–22 financial year.
The Housing Registrar is committed to ensuring the Housing Registrar has the capabilities to meet current and future challenges by enabling a high-performance culture that values and supports our people.
In 2021–22, we finished implementing our team structure and fully staffed the four teams to maximise our responsiveness and agility so that we are ready for the demands of the changing environment in which we operate.
In our Corporate Plan 2020–22, we committed to a range of activities for organisational excellence. The following table sets out our commitments under the Corporate Plan, and the relevant activities undertaken in 2021–22:
|Corporate Plan 2020–22 commitments
|Delivered in 2021–22
|Risk-based and proportionate regulatory engagement with each registered agency to ensure regulatory action plans promote continuous improvement and ongoing compliance with performance standards.
|Regulatory action items have been developed in consultation with registered agencies and are focused on priority risks and continuous improvement opportunities. Fifty-nine regulatory action items were assigned for 2020–21 annual compliance assessments. This is less than half of the 124 regulatory items assigned for 2019–20 assessments and demonstrates the Registrar’s increasingly targeted approach.
|1, 2, 3, 6
|Processing registrations and communicating with stakeholders interested in participating in the Big Housing Build in accordance with funding and project timelines.
Our Registrations and Sector Growth team has become fully operational, registering four new housing providers and engaging with stakeholders to support new registrations.
See Better regulation for more information on new registered agencies.
|1, 2, 6
|Education and targeted capability building in collaboration with other parts of government and the social housing system.
We have continued to build our capability through formal training and other opportunities. This includes:
|Building our investigations capability to respond to complaints, proactively address non-compliance and intervene as a last resort to ensure protections and good outcomes for tenants.
We are building our investigations capability through formal training for our Compliance and Investigations team.
The Registrar has also appointed two inspectors under Section 113 of the Act, ensuring our readiness for inspections and investigations.
|Develop and implement a data validation strategy to identify issues and drive improvements for registered agency data integrity.
The development of a data validation strategy was delayed due to competing priorities. In the interim, we completed a number of internal data integrity improvements including:
|3, 4, 5
|Review our internal complex complaints and investigations processes.
We have completed a review of our internal complex complaints and investigations processes. This has resulted in:
|3, 4, 5
|Streamline internal processes for annual compliance assessments to ensure best use of resources.
|We have streamlined annual compliance assessments, resulting in completion two months earlier than the previous year. By 31 March 2022, 97.5% of assessments were completed, compared with only 18.4% at 31 March 2021.
|We changed the focus of regulatory engagement meetings with registered agencies from information gathering to communication of outcomes of the annual compliance assessment and development of targeted regulatory action items where required.
|In March 2022, legislative changes to reporting timelines came into effect that will further improve the efficiency of annual compliance assessments, ensure registered agency boards have oversight of the organisation’s regulatory performance and facilitate more timely publication of performance data. The amendments also extend the time for reporting changes to the Register of Housing Agencies to reduce burden on registered agencies.
|1, 4, 6
Streamlining registrations and supporting sector growth
Using funding received from the Victorian Government as part of the Regulation Reform Incentive Fund, we undertook a project to streamline the registrations process.
The first stage of the project, completed in May 2022, delivered a report with recommendations for streamlining the process, many of which will also improve the annual compliance assessment process. These include changes to the way information and documentation is collected via the registration application form to reduce time waiting for required information and managing workflows electronically for better resource management.
In undertaking the project, interviews were conducted with representatives from a recently registered agency and a registered housing provider to understand the user experience, and the NSW Registrar to glean lessons from the National Regulatory System for Community Housing.
The second stage of the project, completed in June 2022, focused on the Community Housing Information Management and Engagement System (CHiMES). This included an upgrade from Salesforce Classic to Salesforce Lighting to improve system flexibility and performance, and to support changes to system forms and processes arising from stage one of the project.
Refreshing our Corporate Plan and KPIs
In June 2022, we published our Corporate Plan for the two years from 1 July 2022 to 30 June 2024, including redefining our KPIs to make them more targeted and measurable. We have implemented tracking and monitoring tools to ensure we are monitoring our progress and achievement against the KPIs throughout the year as we undertake our regulatory activities.
The Housing Registrar is committed to:
- supporting registered agencies to achieve good governance, financial viability, quality tenancy services and asset management through regular compliance assessment
- reducing the regulatory burden on registered agencies
- facilitating greater investment in the sector by promoting confidence in the performance of registered agencies
- making our regulatory approach and processes more accessible and transparent
- identifying opportunities for improvement, including through feedback mechanisms.
In 2021–22, we focused on better regulation through ensuring rigorous decision-making across our regulatory functions. We have achieved this through standardisation of analysis and decision-making criteria.
In our Corporate Plan 2020–22, we committed to a range of activities for better regulation. The following table sets out our commitments under the Corporate Plan, and the relevant activities undertaken in 2021-22:
|Corporate Plan 2020–22 commitments
|Delivered in 2021–22
|We will continue to publish compliance guidance and better practice guides to assist registered agencies meet compliance obligations and promote continuous improvement opportunities.
Asset reporting guidance note published October 2021.
Reporting changes guidance note sent to registered agencies March 2022.
Board certification guidance note published June 2022.
|3, 4, 5
|We will source and use intelligence and data to inform our understanding of tenant experiences and drive risk-based, targeted and proportionate regulatory activities. This will improve our ability to identify systemic issues and target our attention, taking a strategic approach to compliance and enforcement activities.
|As detailed in Organisational excellence, we have made system improvements to better capture complaints information. This will enable us to better utilise these insights about tenant experiences and direct our regulatory attention.
|In order to drive good tenant outcomes, we have continued to refine our public reporting. We have developed a sector dashboard which shows key information including rent and arrears, evictions, and total tenancies. In addition, Performance Reports for the 2020–21 financial year were published four months earlier than the previous year and within three months of key performance measure reporting being received (this addressed feedback received in last year’s survey that sector benchmarks were being published too late for registered agencies to make meaningful comparisons).
|2, 4, 5
|Continue to review risk and intelligence tools including the Regulatory Engagement Tool and horizon scanning framework.
In November 2021 we undertook an exercise to calibrate the risk ratings of each registered agency. This process involved lead and financial regulators and regulation managers sharing knowledge and data to determine appropriate levels of engagement with registered agencies relative to their size, activities and risk profile.
For the identification of emerging risks, we included a new question in our 2022 sector survey asking registered agencies about emerging risks they face in a changing economic, growth and reform environment.
|1, 2, 3, 4, 6
|Develop a Compliance Framework to identify and prioritise systemic issues and provide transparency for our regulatory response.
The development of a Compliance Framework was delayed due to competing priorities.
In the interim, we focused on our complaints approach and processes. This has included confirming our statutory jurisdiction for complaints and improving our data collection and reporting for complaints and enquiries.
We have also delivered process and system changes for the changes to the Act, accompanied by supporting materials for registered agencies.
|4, 5, 6
|Strengthen our financial modelling and forecasting capabilities.
|Our focus in 2021–22 has been to improve the quality of data received through better templates and support for registered agencies to provide accurate information as easily as possible. We have made significant improvements to the Financial Performance Report template to reduce the reporting burden, accompanied by three training sessions attended by 87% of registered agencies.
|1, 3, 4, 5
Making it easier to comply
We have considered the compliance and reporting requirements for registered agencies and have made the following improvements:
- reviewed the performance against performance standards report template to provide direction for registered agency self-assessment and enhance transparency when conducting annual compliance assessments
- removed the requirement for housing associations to provide half-yearly unaudited financial statements, reducing the reporting burden for registered agencies
- reviewed the Financial Performance Report template to improve usability and efficiency for registered agencies, and enable the identification of emerging risks associated with project delivery and sector growth
- removed the requirement for registered agencies to review and approve the annual compliance assessment in CHiMES. This addressed feedback in last year’s survey that the process of approving the report was confusing and delayed final publication of compliance results.
These changes aim to reduce the reporting burden on registered agencies in line with our risk-based and targeted approach to regulation.
The Housing Registrar’s ongoing regulatory activities include:
- registering new community housing agencies
- de-registering community housing agencies and facilitating merger arrangements
- monitoring registered agency performance and conducting annual compliance assessments
- managing complaints and responding to enquiries from tenants and prospective tenants
- responding to enquiries from members of the public.
During 2021–22, we registered four new housing providers including one special purpose vehicle (SPV):
- Evolve Housing Vic Ltd: 20 December 2021
- MCM Housing Limited: 22 December 2021
- Assemble x HCA HA Ltd (SPV): 21 March 2022
- BlueCHPV Limited: 30 March 2022.
The Registrations and Sector Growth team has identified opportunities for streamlining the registrations process arising out of the project discussed above in Organisational excellence. These process and associated system changes will be implemented throughout 2022–23.
At 30 June 2022, there were 13 applications in various stages of progress from initial registration enquiry through to active application and assessment. This registration pipeline indicates the sector will continue to grow in coming years.
On 18 January 2022, Eastern Suburbs Rental Housing Cooperative merged with SouthEast Housing Cooperative. Following the merger, Eastern Suburbs Rental Housing Cooperative was de-registered (22 June 2022). The Housing Registrar worked closely with these organisations to support merger arrangements.
Annual compliance assessments
The Housing Registrar aims to complete annual compliance assessments for every registered agency by 31 March each year for the previous financial year.
In 2021–22, we had completed 97.5% of 2020–21 annual compliance assessments by 31 March 2022, compared with only 18.4% of 2019–20 assessments by 31 March 2021. Although this represents a significant improvement in timeliness, sector survey results indicate an appetite for further improvements in this area. This contributed to the assessment of ‘somewhat met’ for KPI 1.
The Corporate Plan 2022–24 identifies actions to address the timeliness of communicating assessment outcomes to registered agencies including further streamlining our internal processes for annual compliance assessments to ensure best use of resources.
|2020–21 ACAs completed
|2019–20 ACAs completed
Complaints and enquiries
Under the Act, the Housing Registrar may investigate complaints by tenants or prospective tenants of registered housing agencies in relation to rental housing matters that have been unable to be resolved by a registered agency after 30 days. We are unable to consider complaints referrable to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) through our complaints function under Section 96 of the Act, but consider all complaints for non-compliance with performance standards.
In 2021–22, the Housing Registrar received 490 enquiries by phone or email of which:
- 376 did not relate to registered housing agencies
- 114 related to registered housing agencies.
The enquiries that did not relate to registered housing agencies were primarily complaints about public housing and enquiries for access to social housing through the VHR. In these circumstances, the Housing Registrar provides information and referral options to assist resolving the enquiry. This may involve multiple contacts with a single enquirer to determine if their issue relates to a registered agency and what the best referral options may be.
In 2021–22, we received 114 enquiries relating to registered agencies. Eighty-four of these were from tenants or prospective tenants and were considered within the context of our complaints role under Section 96 of the Act.
The Registrar investigates complaints using its complaints function (if it meets the requirements listed in Subdivision 2 of the Act) or its monitoring and enforcement functions (if it indicates a systemic failing or non-compliance with the Act, regulations or performance standards). This often involves multiple contacts with the complainant or their advocate and, where permission is given by the complainant, with the registered agency. We record the details of all complaints to enable analysis of common issues for individual registered agencies and across the sector. We use the intelligence gathered from analysis of the complaints and enquiries we receive to inform our ongoing compliance and investigation activities.
The chart below shows the origin and type for the 114 enquiries relating to registered agencies received by the Housing Registrar in 2021–22.
Strong partnerships and engagement.
The Housing Registrar is committed to:
- proactively building high-value and purposeful relationships
- being visible, open and engaged
- raising awareness of the regulatory system and the Housing Registrar’s role
- providing advice and guidance to the community housing sector to support the regulation of registered agencies.
In 2021–22, we have focused on formalising arrangements for our partnerships and engagements so that these are impactful, meaningful, and valuable for all. This includes establishing memoranda of understanding with key partners and setting regular meeting schedules with our stakeholders.
In our Corporate Plan 2020–22, we committed to a range of activities for strong partnerships and engagement. The following table sets out our commitments under the Corporate Plan, and the relevant activities undertaken in 2021–22:
|Corporate Plan 2020–22 priorities
|Delivered in 2021–22
|Enhance and, where appropriate, formalise information exchange with others (including the Department of Families, Fairness and Housing, Community Housing Industry Association, National Housing Finance and Investment Corporation, Human Services Regulator, and the Victorian Ombudsman).
We have established memoranda of understanding with:
|2, 5, 6
|Strengthen connections with key stakeholders such as community organisations and tenant advocates to understand community perspectives and inform our work priorities.
|Established regular meetings with tenant advocates.
|Deepen our understanding of the businesses of registered agencies and their operational environments to promote better risk management and continuous improvement
|In October 2021, regulatory analysts conducted phone interviews with each registered agency to discuss the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on their business, any issues or risks that had arisen, and to monitor preparedness measures.
|We included a new question in our 2022 sector survey asking registered agencies about emerging risks they face in a changing economic, growth and reform environment. We also conducted the survey electronically for the first time to improve access and ease of use for respondents.
|3, 4, 5
|Identify options to improve understanding of tenant experiences and opportunities for continuous improvement.
This has been reprioritised, given the overlap in scope with the Social Housing Regulation Review.
We have taken up opportunities to understand more about tenant experiences including facilitating a panel discussion on Tenant Voice at the 2021 Housing Registrar forum. The panel included a tenant from HousingFirst and two tenant board members from SouthEast Housing Cooperative.
|2, 4, 5
|Continue to work with stakeholders across the social housing sector to improve transparency and community understanding of the sector.
|We participated in joint project work with Homes Victoria, the Department of Families, Fairness and Housing, and CHIA Vic to bring together information on community and public housing.
|We consulted with CHIA Vic on changes to the template for the 2020–21 Performance Report, resulting in separate reporting of turnaround time for rooming house properties. This also addressed feedback from the 2021 sector survey.
Contributing to reviews and investigations
We have actively engaged with both the Social Housing Regulation Review and the Victorian Ombudsman throughout 2021–22.
The Victorian Government commissioned an independent Social Housing Regulation Review to identify future regulatory arrangements that will best support the long-term interests of social housing residents and their communities. It also aimed to best position social (and affordable) housing for growth and transformation over the coming decades. We worked closely with the Social Housing Regulation Review providing inputs, evidence and interviews to inform the review’s understanding of community housing and to consider options for future regulatory arrangements.
The Victorian Ombudsman has conducted an own motion investigation into complaints processes in the social housing sector. We actively engaged with the Ombudsman and provided extensive evidence and interviews to inform the investigation.
We welcome the opportunity to be part of, and to contribute to, an improved Victorian regulatory system.
Connecting across the sector
In September 2021, we held our Housing Registrar forum. We were pleased to hear from registered housing association Housing Choices Australia (HCA) about its work to embed tenants in the planning and delivery of housing services. HCA has been progressing its Resident Theory of Change work through development of a Resident Voice Strategy.
Following the forum presentation, HCA met with CHIA Vic and other registered housing associations Common Equity Housing Limited, Aboriginal Housing Victoria and Unison Housing to collaborate on the development of a Resident Voice Practice Framework for the sector. A sector work plan has been developed and funding for the project approved by Homes Victoria under the Sector Development Fund.
Sector survey results
We proactively seek feedback from registered agencies to promote greater accountability, transparency and continuous improvement opportunities in our regulatory approach and impact.
We conducted our 2022 sector survey in May, following the completion of the 2020–21 annual compliance and performance assessment cycle in order to:
- understand the views of registered agencies
- inform our self-assessment of our performance as a regulator
- identify continuous improvement opportunities to enhance the regulatory system and reduce regulatory red tape
- identify emerging risks to support risk-based regulation that promotes tenant outcomes.
The survey was sent to 42 registered agencies1 and included 11 questions across five key areas:
- engagement with the Housing Registrar team
- process of annual compliance assessment (or the registration assessment for a newly registered entity)
- benefits of the regulatory system, emerging risks and continuous improvement.
We value the feedback provided by registered agencies as it enables us to identify opportunities for continuous improvement to promote best practice regulation that encourages strong compliance and performance in the sector.
"The Housing Registrar is an impartial and fair regulator that supports best practice in our industry" – registered housing association.
Key results and highlights
- 100% surveys returned across the sector
- 100% indicated that the level of engagement from the Housing Registrar team was appropriate
- 97% agreed the Housing Registrar team demonstrates professionalism
- 95% agreed the Housing Registrar is helpful and responsive
- 87% agreed their governing body understood their role for the compliance assessment process and was actively engaged throughout
- 87% agreed regulatory action plan items are reasonable, targeted and achievable.2
Across the survey responses for 2021–22, we have noted an increase in the number of agencies responding ‘neither agree or disagree’, leading to a reduction in satisfaction results for some measures. This is in part due to new registered agencies or changes in staff for some registered agencies who have indicated that they have not had experience of regulation within those areas.
We will continue to monitor these results and look for ways to improve the survey and understanding of registered agency and staff experience.
Emerging risks identified by registered agencies
In 2022, we asked registered agencies about the emerging risks that they are facing. In response, registered agencies identified the following:
- increasing construction and development costs
- increasing maintenance costs due to aging properties and aging tenants’ higher needs/ new demands
- increasing staffing, data management and compliance costs
- declining income.
We note that these risks predominately relate to the ongoing financial viability of the sector, which will continue to be a focus for us under our Corporate Plan 2022–24. We have identified actions in the plan including strengthening our financial modelling and forecasting capabilities and continuing to review our risk and intelligence tools.
In 2021–22, 87% of respondents agreed that the Housing Registrar’s resources are clear and useful.
Satisfaction with the Housing Registrar’s resources to support registered agencies was lower at 79%, and the proportion of ‘neither agree or disagree’ responses increased from 2019–20. In accordance with our Corporate Plan, we are focused on releasing guidance that promotes compliance, continuous improvement and encourages best practice behaviour in the sector. To do this, we will take into account the suggestions for further guidance provided by survey respondents including registration, asset management and complaints. These topics are a reflection of the growth in agencies applying for registration, the increase in development activity in the sector and our focus on complaints cultures and practice in registered agencies.
Survey respondents also noted that some information and resources are harder to find on our website since its move to a different platform last year. We will consider this feedback when we make any further changes to the site.
In 2021–22, 74% of respondents agreed that we completed 2020–21 annual compliance assessments and communicated outcomes with registered agencies in a reasonable timeframe.
Although the completion of 2020–21 assessments occurred earlier than in previous years (see Better regulation), we note a reduction in satisfaction with timeliness, and associated increase in the number of ‘neither agree or disagree’ responses (18% compared with 5% last year). This may be due to a change in the 2020–21 annual compliance assessment process to publish all reports at the same time rather than individually as they were completed.
The Corporate Plan 2022–24 sets out our intention to further review and streamline the process for completing 2021–22 annual compliance assessments. We also note that legislative changes to bring forward some reporting from registered agencies will see key information submitted earlier and should reduce the timeframes for annual compliance assessment publication.
In 2021–22, 85% of respondents agreed that they understood their complaints management responsibilities and the Housing Registrar’s role under the Act. This marks a decrease from near or at 100% over the past two years and again accompanied by an increase in ‘neither agree or disagree’ responses. This is in part due to new entrants and staff to the sector but may also be an indication of differing levels of contact and experience with the Housing Registrar’s complaints role across the sector.
During 2021–22, we focused on consolidating and documenting our internal complaints processes and improving capture and reporting of complaints data. Our Corporate Plan 2022–24 outlines our plans to continue to review our internal complaints and investigations processes and improve our service delivery times for responding to, finalising, and monitoring complaints. We will also be producing best practice guidance on complaints management in collaboration with key stakeholders in 2022–23.
1. One registered agency that has indicated its intention to merge with another registered agency and seek de-registration in 2022–23 was not sent the survey.
2. Calculated as ‘agree’ or ‘strongly agree’ with the survey statement.