Housing Assistance Payment
What is HAP?
HAP is a new form of housing support currently being piloted in some local authorities. The introduction of HAP will mean that local authorities can now provide housing assistance for households who qualify for social housing support, including many long-term rent supplement recipients. Under HAP, local authorities will make payments, subject to rent limits, on behalf of the HAP recipient directly to the landlord in respect of rent. The HAP recipient will then pay a rent contribution to the local authority. The rent contribution is a differential rent – that is, a rent set by the local authority based on income and the ability to pay.
Why is HAP being introduced?
HAP is being introduced to provide a more integrated system of housing supports and aims to:
- allow all social housing supports to be accessed through the local authority
- allow recipients to take up full-time employment and still keep their housing support
Who is eligible for HAP?
- Any household that qualifies for social housing support will be eligible to apply for HAP
- Current rent supplement recipients who qualify for social housing support will be transferred from rent supplement to HAP on a phased basis
When is HAP being introduced?
HAP is being introduced on a phased basis. Please contact your local authority for more information.
A special HAP pilot for homeless households has also commenced in the Dublin region (Dublin City Council, Fingal County Council, South Dublin County Council and Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council).
How will HAP work?
- In order to qualify for HAP, a household must be qualified for social housing support by their local authority, which means the household must qualify to go on the local authority housing waiting list
- HAP recipients, like Rent Supplement recipients, are responsible for finding their own accommodation in the private rented market
- The landlord must agree to rent their property to a HAP recipient
- The local authority will then pay the rent in full directly to the landlord, on the last Wednesday of each month, subject to terms and conditions including rent limits
- The HAP recipient pays their rent contribution to the local authority. To begin with, rent contributions will generally be made through An Post’s Household Budget Scheme. All HAP financial transactions are made electronically.
What benefits has HAP?
For HAP recipients:
- HAP allows recipients to take up full-time employment, while still receiving housing support
- The rent contribution payable by the HAP recipient will be based on the differential rent scheme for their local authority. This scheme links the rent contribution a household must pay to the household income and the ability to pay
- HAP will help to regulate the private rental sector and improve standards of accommodation. Properties will be inspected to make sure that they meet the required standards
- HAP recipients will be able to avail of other social housing supports and options, if they so choose
- Local authorities will be responsible for all housing supports in their area.
- The landlord or his agent will receive prompt payments directly from the local authority on a monthly basis, subject to the HAP recipient paying the local authority their rent contribution. All payments will be made electronically; there will be no need for rent collection from tenants who are HAP recipients leading to administrative savings for landlords
- Landlords who rent to tenants in receipt of social housing supports like the housing assistance payment (HAP) may avail of increased tax relief under a new scheme from 1 January 2016. The new scheme will allow property owners to claim 100 per cent relief on their mortgage interest, as an expense against rental income. To qualify, the landlord must undertake to make the accommodation available to qualifying tenants for a minimum of three years, and the undertaking must be registered with the Residential Tenancies Board (RTB). Further information is also available from the Revenue Commissioners on www.revenue.ie
Who will continue to receive Rent Supplement?
Rent Supplement will continue to be paid to tenants who have already been in private rented accommodation for at least six of the previous 12 months before applying. Tenants may also qualify if they have received rent supplement at any time during the 12 months before applying. This payment will be paid by the Department of Social Protection as before. These recipients will qualify without being assessed for housing need.
Will HAP clients be able to access other housing supports?
Yes. HAP recipients will have access to other social housing supports offered by local authorities, such as local authority housing or housing provided by Approved Housing Bodies.