Local authorities are obliged to provide housing for older people on broadly the same basis as for the rest of the population. In general, they take age into account when prioritising applications for housing. Some local authorities and voluntary organisations provide specific housing for older people.
There are some housing-related grants that are particularly relevant to older people or people with disabilities. In addition, the VAT refund scheme on aids and appliances used by people with disabilities also applies to the cost of installation and adaptation work.
Some local authorities provide special accommodation for older people - usually community accommodation with special security features, such as wardens and security cameras. Each local authority allocates housing in accordance with its own housing allocation scheme (formerly known as schemes of letting priorities).
Age limits for older people’s accommodation can vary from one local authority’s housing allocation scheme to another. Check with your own local authority.
Voluntary housing organisations provide housing in a similar way to local authorities. They provide two types of housing for older people: group schemes and sheltered housing. They have some discretion about whom they house, but most of their housing is assigned in consultation with the local authority. Tenants in sheltered housing pay rent and they may qualify for Rent Supplement.
Most of these organisations are community-based and were set up to meet specific housing needs. They are known as 'approved housing bodies' as they must be approved by the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government.
The Housing Aid for Older Persons Scheme aims to improve the living conditions of older people by carrying out minor repairs to the main areas of their homes.
The type of work that is grant-aided varies from one local authority to another. In general, it can include structural repairs or improvements; rewiring; repair or replacement of windows and doors; the provision of water, sanitary services or heating; cleaning and painting; radon remediation; and any other repair or improvement work considered necessary.
Check with your local authority to see what types of work it covers under the scheme.
If you need to adapt your home to meet the needs of a member of the household who has a disability, you can apply for a Housing Adaptation Grant for People with a Disability.
The grant can help you to make changes and adaptations to your home, for example, making it wheelchair-accessible, extending it to create more space, adding a ground-floor bathroom or toilet or a stair-lift.
If you are buying or building a new home, you may qualify for this grant, but at a lower rate.
The Mobility Aids Grant Scheme provides grants for works designed to address mobility problems in the home. For example, the grant can be used for the purchase and installation of handrails. It is mainly for older people, but people with disabilities can also access it.
The amount of assistance you can get under this Scheme is less than under the Housing Aid for Older Persons Scheme and the Housing Adaptation Grant for People with a Disability. It is a useful scheme if you need minor adaptations or improvements done quickly.
The Better Energy Warmer Homes Scheme aims to improve the energy efficiency and warmth of homes owned by people on low incomes. It is operated by the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) and is available nationwide. It covers attic insulation, draught-proofing, lagging jackets, energy-efficient bulbs, cavity wall insulation and energy advice.
The Seniors Alert Scheme provides funds to local community and voluntary organisations to install personal monitored alarms and items of home security. Grants can be made to provide security measures for people aged 65 or over who are living alone, or only with other older people, and who are unable themselves to install or buy such equipment.
To apply for local authority housing, fill in an application form and send it to your local authority.
If you are interested in becoming a tenant of a voluntary housing association, you should first apply to your local authority for housing and have your housing need assessed.
For the Housing Aid for Older People Scheme, Mobility Aids Grant or Housing Adaptation Grant for People with a Disability, download the relevant application form from your local authority’s website and send the completed form to your local authority.
For the Better Energy Warmer Homes Scheme, contact SEAI on 1800 250 204 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Contact details for Seniors Alert are in our document on this scheme.
If you have a question relating to this topic you can contact the Citizens Information Phone Service on 0761 07 4000 (Monday to Friday, 9am to 8pm) or you can visit your local Citizens Information Centre.