Conflicts of interest
Declaring and managing conflicts of interest for your community housing provider (CHP) registration.
A conflict of interest arises if someone’s interests or obligations conflict or may be perceived to conflict with their professional responsibilities. It means that their independence, objectivity or impartiality may be called into question, i.e. whether the other interest creates an incentive for someone to act in a way that may not be in the best interest of the organisation. The government, the Community Housing Regulatory Authority (CHRA) and the public have high expectations of registered CHPs’ integrity and probity because community housing is part funded by the tax-payer.
The conflict of interest can already exist, or be about to, or could happen. It may also be a perceived conflict – where other people might reasonably think that a person has been compromised.
Some conflicts of interest are unavoidable, and their effective and transparent management is what is important.
Examples of conflicts of interest
Examples of situations which can give rise to conflicts of interest that should be disclosed and managed include:
- The person may derive a financial benefit from the matter.
- The spouse, civil union partner, de facto partner, child, or parent of a person may derive a financial benefit from the matter.
- The person may have a financial interest in a corporate person to whom the matter relates.
- The person is a partner, director, officer, board member, or trustee of a person who may have a financial interest in a person to whom the matter relates.
- The person is otherwise directly or indirectly interested in the matter.
Declaring conflicts of interest
CHRA’s application for registration form includes a declaration for applicants to complete. Part of that is a declaration about whether the applicant or any of its personnel has, or is likely to have, any material conflict of interest that could affect suitability for registration or eligibility for the Income-Related Rent Subsidy (IRRS). Once registered, a CHP will be expected to report, any material conflict of interest, compromising the CHP’s ability to meet related Performance Standards.
When to consider possible conflicts of interest
When making an application for registration, or submitting a Disclosure Report post registration, a CHP should consider the context within which it operates, in order to determine whether it or its members or employees have a conflict of interest. Remote or insignificant conflicts of interest need not be disclosed. CHRA should be informed of “material” conflicts of interest which could influence the CHP or its personnel in a way which impairs the CHP’s ability to meet the eligibility criteria or Performance Standards or the CHP’s eligibility for IRRS.
Managing conflicts of interest
Ways of managing conflicts of interest include:
- Having effective policies for disclosure and management. E.g. require members to disclose interests before appointment.
- Declaring, recording and updating any conflicts in an interests register, and Board minutes, together with what steps will be taken to manage them.
- Restricting the conflicted person’s involvement in the matter giving rise to the conflict. E.g. reassign certain aspects of their tasks, ask them to stand aside from discussion or voting, or prohibit them from signing documents relating to matters in which they have an interest.
- Bringing in an independent person to check over or verify the process.
- Ensuring the interest that has created the conflict is removed. E.g. prohibit members from discussing and voting at meetings on matters in which they have an interest.
- Prohibiting members from having an interest in certain contracts with their entity.
- Requiring the person with the conflict to resign when the conflict cannot be satisfactorily managed/resolved.
For further guidance on conflicts of interest please refer to www.oag.govt.nz (external link)