The Department for Communities is the Regulatory Authority for Registered Housing Associations* (RHAs) in Northern Ireland.

About housing regulation

The Department operates its statutory regulatory function under Article 4 (1) (c) of The Housing (Northern Ireland) Order 1992.

The Housing Regulation Branch undertakes regulation activity on behalf of the Department. Our vision is to deliver a modern, tailored, proportionate and cost-effective regulatory process which protects the interests of our tenants. We do this by setting high level, outcome focussed standards which RHA boards are responsible for ensuring compliance with. Our key functions are to:                                  

  1. monitor, assess and report on the performance of RHAs in relation to housing activities;
  2. monitor their financial well-being and standards of governance and, where appropriate, increase our engagement with them to achieve our objectives.
  3. create through regulation a Social Housing sector that is viable, efficient, well governed and able to deliver homes to meet a range of needs.
  4. ensure social housing tenants are protected and are provided opportunities to be involved with their RHA.

*RHAs are referred to as Registered Housing Associations in The Housing (Northern Ireland) Order 1992

Contact us

Advice and guidance

For more information please see our Regulatory Framework for Registered Housing Associations in Northern Ireland and supporting advice notes.

Consumer standard

View the Tenant Participation Strategy 2015-2020.

Finance standard

View the Finance tables which provide supporting documentation.

Governance standard 

View the Application form to become a Registered Housing Association.

Registered housing associations

Registered housing associations first came into being in 1976. Today there are 20 associations, including the Northern Ireland Co-ownership Housing Association. 

Registered housing associations:

  • provide rented accommodation
  • specialise in accommodation for special needs groups
  • are the main developers of new social housing for rent in Northern Ireland

Additional information is provided on each RHA by individually selecting them below:

Housing associations complaints procedure

The Department requires associations to have in place a formal procedure for dealing with complaints which all tenants and customers must be made aware of.

If, after having exhausted a registered housing association’s complaints process, you are unhappy about the way you have been treated by the RHA you may complain to the Northern Ireland Public Services Ombudsman.

Northern Ireland Public Services Ombudsman
33 Wellington Place


Freepost NIPSO

Telephone: 028 9023 3821
Freephone: 0800 34 34 24
Text Phone: 028 9089 7789
Freephone: 0800 3434 24


Housing regulation reports

Access to information

How to request information from the Department for Communities including Freedom of Information (FOI) and the use of our Publication Scheme.

Accuracy of information

Our Regulatory Judgements and level of regulatory engagements have been decided from the information supplied to us as part of the Regulatory Framework annual assessment.

We rely on the information supplied by the Registered Housing Association being accurate and complete. We do not accept liability if this is not the case. Also liability will not be accepted by us for actions arising from a third party’s use of the information or views contained in these reports.

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