Governance Guide - Privately Financed Schemes


The Department has a duty to supervise and monitor the affairs of Registered Housing Associations (RHAs).  This includes all activities, not just those involving publicly funded schemes.

The Housing (Amendment) Act 2020 removes the requirement of RHAs to obtain Departmental consent before a charge is taken out in favour of a private lender.    Instead, RHAs must notify the Department within 28 days of the completion of a mortgage.


In order for the Department to be satisfied that the Association has fully considered the implications of a loan, Associations must submit the information detailed in Housing Association private finance.

Associations should be aware that the Department will be reviewing the documentation simply for the purpose of monitoring its borrowing, the covenants associated with the borrowing and the level of security being provided. The responsibility for assessing the risks associated with loans and development remains with the Association and more particularly the management committee. Private lenders will also need to make their own enquiries, and satisfy themselves that any risk is acceptable to them.

These procedures apply to privately financed schemes either where there is no grant aid or where the grant aid is provided by a public body other than the Department.  Schemes involving a combination of private finance and HAG, funded through NIHE (DPG), are dealt with in Scheme Approval.


Associations seeking private finance should consider the following criteria.


Associations should ensure that the schemes they are undertaking are:

  • within the permitted activities of a registered housing association as defined in Articles 3 and 15 of the Housing (Northern Ireland) Order 1992;
  • within their objects as set out in their rules;
  • within their borrowing limits

Financial viability

Associations should ensure that:

  • they will be able to repay mortgage loans and meet all costs of the scheme with no or minimal risk to publicly funded assets (by which is meant assets funded by Housing Association Grant or by any of those payments and loans listed in Schedule 2 to the Housing (Northern Ireland) Order 1992 under the heading “grant aided land”);
  • the scheme represents reasonable value for money;
  • adequate provision is made for repairs and improvements;
  • by undertaking a privately financed scheme they are not overstretching their reserves or risking financial instability

For more information on Financial Viability: Finance Guide

Capacity/ skills

Associations should ensure that:

  • they have the necessary skills/ specialist knowledge and resources required to develop a privately financed scheme;
  • they have the necessary resources to manage and/ or market the scheme and that there is sufficient demand to ensure a maximum voids level of less than 4%;
  • the needs of the people to be housed cannot be met adequately by private developers


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