The 2014 Act introduced a new scheme for housing assistance payments (HAP). It covers rent payable by households who qualify for social housing support, for private rented accommodation. The household sources the accommodation themselves
Households, who qualify for social housing support that are long-term recipients of rent supplement from the Department of Social Protection transferred to the new housing assistance payments schem
Housing Assistance Payment is a new scheme operated by housing authorities to assist households qualifying for a social housing support. This includes long-term rent supplement recipients to assist rent payments for private rented accommodation.
Under the scheme, a qualified household may source their own private rented accommodation and enter a tenancy agreement with the landlord. The housing authority will pay the full rent directly to the landlord on behalf of the household. This is subject to the maximum rent limit under the scheme.
The household is required to pay a rent contribution to the housing authority in accordance with the authority’s differential rent scheme. The accommodation must meet standards for renting the residential accommodation and the landlord must be tax compliant.
The scheme may be refused to persons who have engaged in antisocial behaviour. Such a person may be refused permission to reside in the dwelling.
Households receiving other forms of social housing support, other than Housing Assistance, in particular those in dwellings provided by the local authority or an approved housing body are eligible to avail of Housing Assistance only in the case of an emergency.
Households who benefit from Housing Assistance are not permitted to move from one dwelling to another within a prescribed period except in certain specified circumstances. Regulations may prescribe the manner in which a housing authority may provide Housing Assistance in respect of rent payable by a tenant of an approved housing body in a dwelling under the Capital Assistance Scheme.
Households benefiting from Housing Assistance or in the receipt of other social housing support will cease to be eligible for support if in the preceding four years they have failed to comply with the terms of a prescribed number of rescheduling arrangements for the payment of arrears or rent or rent contributions.
A household benefiting from Household Assistance which refuses a prescribed number of reasonable offers of other social housing support will not be considered for transfer to other forms of social housing support for a prescribed period.
The regulations may prescribe that particular authorities will deal with particular classes of household seeking Housing Assistance.
The payment of Housing Assistance does not mean that the dwelling is let by a public authority for the purpose of the Residential Tenancies Act. The Act applies to dwellings supported under HAP except those provided under the Capital Assistance Scheme.
Household Assistance may be provided for a qualified household of a prescribed class in respect of dwelling shared by that household with persons who are not household members provided the arrangement does not lead to overcrowding.
The main conditions for the provision of Housing Assistance under the scheme are restated. The dwelling must meet statutory standards for rented accommodation. Then landlord must be tax compliant. The household member who he is tenant must pay a rent contribution. The housing authority must be satisfied that the tenancy and prospective tenancy is undertaken in good faith.
The payment of Housing Assistance to the landlord or his agent does not imply liability for rent payable by the household.
The housing authority must be satisfied in its inspection that the house complies with the housing standards. The housing authority will usually carry out an inspection of the dwelling before but may do so after commencement of the tenancy. It may pay Housing Assistance until the inspection is carried out, subject to conditions. It may pay Housing Assistance in relation to a dwelling, the subject of an improvement notice.
It may not pay Housing Assistance in relation to a dwelling, the subject of the prohibition notice except where the household is living in the dwelling in which case it may be paid in respect of the dwelling for a prescribed period while the qualified household secures alternative accommodation.
Where the housing authority determines the dwelling does not meet the qualified households accommodation due to overcrowding, it shall not be eligible and or shall cease to be eligible for Housing Assistance. Housing Assistance may be continued to be paid for a prescribed period while the another dwelling is sourced.
The housing authority may designate an area that has been specified as a regeneration area or an area where there is a need to counteract undue social segregation. Housing Assistance shall not be payable in respect of a dwelling located in the area, unless it was already the subject of a Housing Assistance on that date of designation. The Minister’s consent is required to designation of an area in the case of contracting undue social segregation in the case that the number of local Government elector in the area exceeds a prescribed number.
There is provision for the information which a landlord must supply on request in order for one of his dwellings to be the subject of Housing Assistance under the part. This includes PPS number, current tax clearance, details of bank accounts and any other information the housing authority requires.
Where tax clearance certificate is not present, the housing authority may for a prescribed period until it is produced or up to a prescribed amount. Where it is not produced within a period prescribed or result in total payments in excess of a prescribed amount, the authority may continue to pay in respect of the dwelling for a further period to allow the household source alternative accommodation. Regulations may prescribe the conditions applicable.
A local authority may Housing Assistance (by way of the full rent payable by the tenant), subject to the maximum rent limit) monthly by electronic transfer to the agent unless an alternative arrangement is entered.
The Minister may prescribe the maximum amount of rent for which Housing Assistance will be provided for prescribed classes of households taking account of the composition of the household and location of the dwelling house. Where this is less than the rent, the housing authority will inform the household and advise them to renegotiate the rent.
If it is not reduced to the maximum Housing Assistance permissible, the housing authority may continue to pay the assistance in respect of the actual rent until the tenancy expires where it is economically advantageous to do so or that it is necessary to avoid undue hardship for the household concerned. In any other case, the housing authority may continue to pay the Housing Assistance in respect of the rent payable under the tenancy for prescribed period to allow the benefiting household time to source alternative accommodation.
The tenant in relation to whom a Housing Assistance is being provided is required to pay a rent contribution to the housing authority. The Minister may prescribe the methods by which the tenant pays the rent contributions.
Circumstances in which a household will be ineligible for Housing Assistance are or cease to be eligible are set out. A local authority or approved body under the rental accommodation arrangements are social housing supports for this purpose.
A household benefiting from Housing Assistance, which is transferred to a specified form of social housing support but refuses a prescribed number of reasonable offers of specified forms of support in a continuous period will not be considered for a further offer for a prescribed period after the last refusal. The latter period will not be taken into account in determining priority of the households for a transfer.
A household in receipt of social housing support other than Housing Assistance is eligible for Housing Assistance only in an emergency that is not due to the action or inaction by the household concerned. In the case of emergency, the housing authority may provide an amount of Housing Assistance in excess of the maximum rent applicable for the household provided it is satisfied that the household has a reasonable need to remain in the same locality as the dwelling, the subject of the emergency and cannot source accommodation in that area within the limit.
The household ceases to be eligible when the original dwelling house is available for reoccupation for the household, or the authority offers suitable alternative social housing support to the household in the same locality of the original dwelling.
A housing authority has power to refuse to provide or cease to provide Housing Assistance in respect of a qualified household where it is considers that any member is or has been engaged in antisocial behaviour, fails to provide information about persons living or proposing to live in the household.
It may refuse a person who is or has been engaged in antisocial behaviour to take up or assume residence or enter a dwelling house the subject of Housing Assistance, if the benefiting household or the household concerned does not provide the authority with the information it needs to decide whether to grant or refuse permission.
A household ceases to be eligible for Housing Assistance, if it leaves the dwelling concerned and seeks Housing Assistance in respect of another dwelling within a prescribed period that runs from when it was first provided in respect of the original dwelling. Ineligibility will not apply where the tenancy was terminated by the landlord under the Residential Tenancies Act and one of the grounds specified in the Section 34.
- The terms of the tenancy has expired;
- the housing authority is satisfied that the household move on grounds of overcrowding for employment or educational reasons or due to exceptional circumstances including fire flood or other emergency.
The Minister may where he or she considers it just and equitable, prescribe the manner in which a housing authority shall having regard to the financial circumstances of a household residing in a dwelling provided by it under the Capital Assistance Scheme, pay housing assistance to that body in respect of the rent payable for the dwelling.
The matters prescribed may include
- the manner in which the authority shall determine whether Housing Assistance should be provided,
- the maximum amount of Housing Assistance and
- the manner in which the Housing Assistance shall be provided.
Where in the case of households seeking support, qualification cannot be determined because a household member who has separated no longer resides but has an interest, a household is otherwise qualified for social housing support, the housing authority may determine the household is qualified for support in the form of assistance or a residential accommodation arrangement tenancy.
The determination may be reviewed at intervals. Where the interest of the separated household member has been determined and the household qualifies for social housing support, the period during which the household benefited from Housing Assistance or held supported tenancy is not reckonable by the housing authority where the household applies for a transfer to another form of social housing support.
A household in receipt of social housing support shall cease to be eligible for such support if in the preceding four years, it has failed to comply with a prescribed number of rescheduling arrangements for the payment of rent or rent contributions. This does not apply where the housing authority is satisfied that the failure is due to circumstances beyond the household’s control.
A qualified household on a local authority waiting list, which refuses within a prescribed period a prescribed number of reasonable offers, shall be ineligible for social housing for a prescribed period after the last refusal. A housing authority shall not be required to carry out social housing assessment in respect of a household in receipt of social housing support that applies for transfer to another form of such support.