The AUHF was established as a non-profit trade association and an affiliate of the International Union for Housing Finance (IUHF) in June 1984. It was an umbrella organisation for housing finance institutions with 11 members in seven countries and was known as the African Union of Housing Finance Institutions. At its inception, it set itself the following aims and objectives:
- Promotion of a greater understanding of savings and home ownership in Africa, including the rights and responsibilities of both lenders and borrowers
- Assistance in the application of appropriate technology and the improvement of housing in Africa
- Encouraging members to conduct their business in an ethical manner, raising technical and financial standards and helping members to expand the scope of their activities
- Consulting with governments and international organisations in meeting housing needs in Africa and
- Developing training programmes, information exchanges and carrying out research
The AUHF was formed in Malawi with the assistance of the Malawi government, the Malawi Housing Corporation and the New Building Society and had its registered offices in Lilongwe, Malawi.
The association maintained links with, and was supported by international bodies such as the United Nations, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the World Bank, the Development Bank of Southern Africa, the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) and, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).
The political and social changes in South Africa in the early 1990’s enabled the extension of the association to South Africa and, the South African Association of Mortgage Lenders was approved for membership with the AUHF. The membership of the association grew, and by 1994, it had 28 member institutions in 16 countries. By 1996, the AUHF was one of the longest standing regional groupings in Africa and it continued to promote housing finance in Africa throughout the various upheavals and changes that took place on the continent.
Since 2005, the AUHF has been registered as a non-profit company in South Africa, incorporated under section 21 of the Companies Act, 61 of 1973. In July 2012, the association adopted a Memorandum of Incorporation (MOI) based on the Companies Act 71 of 2008. The MOI was adopted by special resolution passed on 6 July 2012, substituting the existing memorandum and articles of association of the company.