NSW Local Scheme
Legislation and Intent
In October 2016, NSW Parliament enacted an amendment to the Community Housing Providers (Adoption of National Law) Act 2012 [NSW] (the Act) to establish a local system of registration, monitoring and regulation of entities that provide community housing but are unable to be registered under the Community Housing Providers National Law (NSW).
In August 2017, under section 25A of the Act, the NSW Minister for Family and Community Services directed the Registrar of Community Housing (the Registrar) to commence the NSW local registration system (known as the NSW Local Scheme – NSWLS) that:
- as far as reasonably practicable, is consistent with the National Regulatory System for Community Housing (NRSCH)
- does not include the ‘wind-up’ condition of registration under the Act, whilst ensuring that any assets or assistance provided by the NSW Government is appropriately protected
- initially focuses on registering NSW Local Aboriginal Land Councils (LALCs).
There is no legal obligation for organisations to be registered under the NSWLS. However, under section 15 (3) of the Act:
- assistance in the form of housing, land or funding is not to be given to a community housing provider unless the provider is registered under the NRSCH or NSWLS, and
- assistance may be withdrawn from a community housing provider that ceases to be registered.
In addition, individual Government policy and funding agencies may make registration a precondition for the provision of funding or for delivering funded housing services including for affordable housing.
Under the current directive, NSW local registration is open to any organisation that meets the requirements of the NSWLS, including:
- incorporation as a NSW Local Aboriginal Land Council
- having in place processes that gives the Registrar assurance that in the event of wind-up and/or deregistration, assets or assistance provided by the NSW Government are appropriately protected
- having a demonstrated capacity to meet and achieve ongoing compliance with the NSWLS Regulatory Code
- provides or intends to provide community housing services.
Whereas there are differences in the eligibility requirements between the NSWLS and the NRSCH, there is a consistency in the regulatory approach between the two systems. Both systems share the same vision of a well governed, well managed and viable community housing sector that meets the housing needs of tenants and provides assurance for Government.
NSWLS Regulatory Code
The NSWLS Regulatory Code is aligned to the NRSCH’s National Regulatory Code. The NSWLS Regulatory Code sets out the performance outcomes and requirements that registered NSWLS community housing providers must comply with. The NSW Code does not prescribe how providers should run their businesses; rather, it focuses on the achievement of outcomes in the following areas:
- Tenant and housing services
- Housing assets
- Community engagement
- Financial viability
The requirements of the NSWLS are rigorous and ongoing. The Registrar conducts a thorough examination of an applicant’s governance, management, probity, tenancy and asset management, community engagement, and financial viability and sustainability.
Noting that most NSW Local Aboriginal Land Councils (LALCs) have not participated in a regulated community housing sector, the Registrar will provide guidance on capacity building avenues to LALCs (and other eligible providers) that lodge an interest in the local registration system to assist with registration under the NSWLS.
If significant areas for improvement are evident and required in any provider’s performance to meet the NSWLS Regulatory Code, the provider may be invited by the Registrar to first address the identified areas and attempt registration at a later date.
Information Access and Sharing
The information access and sharing principles of NSWLS conform to those of NRSCH. The Registrar will provide guidance and information specific to the NSWLS.
Enquiries and Information
There will be a range of documents, including the NSWLS Charter and Regulatory Framework, on the Registrar’s website under the Guidance and Publications tab that will be of assistance to NSWLS applicants.
There is also a range of documents on the NRSCH website at www.nrsch.gov.au that may be of assistance.