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Who the Housing Registrar regulates

The Housing Registrar regulates registered agencies in Victoria that deliver secure and affordable community housing for very-low to moderate income households.

Community housing in Victoria is delivered by not-for-profit, rental housing agencies (registered agencies), that are registered under the Housing Act 1983 (Housing Act) as housing associations or housing providers.

Registered agencies provide affordable housing for very low to moderate-income households and allocate tenants from the Victorian Housing Register (the centralised waiting list for all social housing providers in Victoria administered by the Department of Families, Fairness and Housing).

In Victoria, the community housing sector is diverse and is comprised of 39 registered agencies of different sizes and focus. For example, some registered agencies specialise in providing affordable housing for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, women, victims of family violence, older people and those at risk of homelessness and escaping homelessness.

There are currently 10 registered housing associations and 29 registered housing providers in Victoria. A list of registered agencies can be found on the Registered housing agencies in Victoria page. The Public Register contains key business details and compliance information of all registered agencies regulated under the Housing Act.

Aerial view of housing estate

Registered agencies

  • manage and own 20,000 tenancy units in Victoria and deliver one-quarter of the State’s social housing
  • own more than 10,100 properties with a total carrying value of $3.4 billion
  • have a combined operating revenue of $326 million
  • employ 1,500 staff

To apply to be registered a not-for-profit organisation must be a company limited by shares or guarantee, an incorporated association, or a co-operative.

Housing managed by registered agencies is primarily either long term or transitional. Some registered agencies also provide crisis housing and other forms of housing such as specialist disability accommodation and rooming houses. 

All registered agencies must comply with Performance Standards and other legislative requirements under the Housing Act.

  • Under the Housing Act, the Registrar can categorise a registered agency as a housing association or a housing provider based on the level of regulatory risk associated with a registered agency’s operations. Factors which determine this level of risk include the size of a registered agency, its plans for growth at scale and the complexity of its operations.

    Housing associations are assessed as having an increased level of risk due to the scale and scope of their operations and are generally larger, more complex registered agencies. Housing associations expand new housing through construction, purchase or acquisition, using a mix of government funds and private sector investment. Housing associations also manage housing properties which they own or lease from other parties, such as the Director of Housing located within the Department of Families, Fairness and Housing.

    Registered housing associations drive growth at scale in their housing portfolios as well as manage a larger portfolio of housing. This ensures that housing associations continue to demonstrate their financial viability and their ability to leverage government grants to deliver larger more complex developments. Financing of a proportion of the growth occurs through funding sources external to government, including private debt.

    Housing associations have the highest regulatory reporting requirements due to their increased level of risk. For high-risk agencies, the potential impact of failure is greater due to their size, complexity and the level of development activity (or the amount of development funding). This is demonstrated by:

    • obligations arising from capital projects
    • management of loan covenants and development timelines
    • complexity from loan arrangements and structures
    • consideration given to organisational capacity and risk management
  • Housing providers are assessed as having a lower level of risk within their operations and range in size from smaller to medium-sized registered agencies. Housing providers primarily manage rental housing portfolios for other parties, such as the Director of Housing located within the Department of Families, Fairness and Housing.

    Some housing providers own properties and drive growth in their housing portfolios, however, their growth is smaller in scale compared with housing associations. Housing providers often specialise in targeting particular client groups which may include disability housing, older people and youth housing.

    A housing provider may apply to the Registrar of Housing Agencies for a change of category to a housing association, however, it must be able to demonstrate that they meet the requirements for transition between the two categories.

Reviewed 25 February 2021

Housing Registrar

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