You are here: Home > Housing > Renting a home > Housing Assistance Payment

Housing Assistance Payment

Introduction

The Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) is a form of social housing support for people who have a long-term housing need. HAP will eventually replace long-term Rent Supplement. It is being introduced under the Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2014 and a series of Statutory Instruments.

The HAP scheme aims to allow all social housing supports to be accessed through one body - the local authority - and to enable people to take up full-time employment and keep their housing support.

Under the scheme, local authorities pay landlords directly. The rent being charged for the accommodation must be within the limits set down for the household type in that local authority’s area – see ‘Rent limits’ below. Tenants pay a weekly HAP rent contribution to the local authority, based on their income and ability to pay.

The Department of Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government has detailed information about HAP on its website, including booklets for landlords (pdf) and tenants (pdf), along with a general information leaflet (pdf).

Where does HAP operate?

HAP became operational in Cavan, Kerry, Laois, Leitrim, Longford, Roscommon, Westmeath, Wexford and Wicklow on 1 December 2016.

It was already available in the following local authority areas and is due to become operational in the remaining local authorities (all located in Dublin) from March 2017.

  • Carlow County Council
  • Clare County Council
  • Cork City Council
  • Cork County Council
  • Donegal County Council
  • Galway City Council
  • Galway County Council
  • Kilkenny County Council
  • Kildare County Council
  • Limerick City and County Council
  • Louth County Council
  • Mayo County Council
  • Meath County Council
  • Monaghan County Council
  • Offaly County Council
  • Sligo County Council
  • South Dublin County Council
  • Tipperary County Council
  • Waterford City and County Council

    also

  • Homeless households in Dublin (Dublin City Council, Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council, Fingal County Council and South Dublin County Council)

Rules

Who is eligible for HAP?

You must be on the local authority’s housing list – which means that you qualify for social housing support. See our document on applying for local authority/social housing for details of assessment for social housing support. You cannot transfer from any other form of social housing to HAP.

In December 2014, HAP was extended on a pilot basis to homeless households in the Dublin region. To qualify for HAP under the pilot scheme, a household must be accepted as homeless within the meaning of section 2 of the Housing Act 1988 by one of the 4 Dublin local authorities. (The original requirement to have been in homeless accommodation on a certain date is no longer in effect.)

The Homeless HAP Pilot, which is operated by the Dublin Region Homeless Executive (DRHE) on behalf of the Dublin local authorities, provides discretion to exceed the HAP rent limits for homeless households, if this is necessary in order to source suitable accommodation. The Dublin Place Finder Service supports homeless households in the Dublin region to find a tenancy using HAP.

Transferring from Rent Supplement to HAP

If you live in an area where HAP is available and you have been getting Rent Supplement for a long time (generally 18 months or more) you may get a letter from the Department of Social Protection, asking you to contact your local authority to apply for social housing support (which includes HAP).

You must apply within 6 weeks of being asked to do so (but if necessary an extra 6 weeks can be allowed). You may then be transferred to HAP or to another form of social housing support.

The legislative basis for these arrangements is a series of amendments made to the Social Welfare Consolidation Act 2005 by Section 54 (3) of the Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2014.

Tenancy arrangements under HAP

Under HAP you must find your own private rented accommodation - the local authority will not source it for you.

Since 1 January 2016, you cannot be discriminated against when renting because you are getting one of certain payments, which include HAP, so landlords can no longer state when advertising accommodation that HAP is not accepted.

The landlord information booklet (pdf) explains what landlords need to know and outlines the benefits of HAP to them, including direct electronic payment, low administration and extra tax reliefs.

Although the local authority administers the HAP scheme, you will not be a local authority tenant. The rental agreement will be between yourself and the private landlord and your tenancy will be covered by the Residential Tenancies Act 2004 as amended (pdf). This means that you will have certain rights and obligations, as will your landlord. Your tenancy must be registered with the Residential Tenancies Board.

When you are a HAP tenant

The local authority will inspect your accommodation within 8 months of the first HAP payment to your landlord, to ensure that it meets the minimum standards for rented housing. The landlord is also required to produce evidence of tax compliance before the total of the HAP payments adds up to €10,000.

Your housing needs will have been met under HAP and you will no longer be on the local authority’s housing waiting list. However, if you wish to have access to other social housing supports, such as local authority housing or housing provided by a housing association, you can apply to the local authority for a transfer.

If you do apply for a transfer within 2 weeks of getting the letter confirming your HAP payment, any time that you spent on the housing list can be taken into account when your local authority considers your application. If you apply for a transfer at a later date, the time that you previously spent on the housing waiting list won’t count.

Rent contribution

You will pay a weekly HAP rent contribution to the local authority, based on your household’s weekly income, calculated in the same way as standard local authority differential rents. This rent will vary in accordance with your income and the local authority’s rent scheme.

In the same way as anyone else who is paying a differential rent, you will have to notify the local authority of any changes in your income or household size, so that the rent can be recalculated.

If you take up a job or increase your working hours, you will still be eligible for HAP if you fulfil the other conditions of the scheme. This is different from the rules that apply to Rent Supplement.

Paying your landlord

The local authority will make the HAP payment to your landlord on your behalf, subject to certain conditions:

  • You must pay your weekly HAP rent contribution to the local authority – if not, the local authority will stop paying your landlord
  • If you get a social welfare payment at a post office, you must pay your HAP contribution through the Household Budget Scheme
  • The accommodation must meet minimum standards for rented housing
  • Your landlord must have current evidence of tax compliance
  • You (and your household) must not engage in anti-social behaviour

If your landlord requires a deposit, you will have to pay this yourself – the local authority will not pay it for you. You may be able to get an Exceptional Needs Payment to help with paying the deposit.

Ending a HAP tenancy

You will be expected to stay in your HAP accommodation for at least 2 years, but in some situations you may be able to apply for a new HAP payment elsewhere – for example, if you are offered a job in another town or if your family grows too large for the property. You will need to contact your local authority if you are thinking of moving.

If a tenant or a landlord wishes to end a residential tenancy, they must comply with the relevant legislation. Read more on Threshold’s website.

Rent limits

Most of the current HAP rent limits were set by the Housing Assistance Payment (Amendment) (No. 2) Regulations 2016 in July 2016. Limits for the 9 local authorities that joined the scheme on 1 December 2016 were set by the Housing Assistance Payment (Amendment) (No. 4) Regulations 2016 (SI 575 of 2016).

In general, the rent must be within the HAP rent limits for your household size and the area you live in. However, there is flexibility of up to 20% where suitable accommodation cannot be found for a household within these limits. As noted above, there is also specific flexibility for homeless households in the Dublin region.

This table shows the maximum monthly rent limits allowable in each local authority area for different types of household with effect from 1 July 2016, along with the 9 local authorities added on 1 December 2016.

Local authority 1 adult in shared accommodation Couple in shared accommodation 1 adult Couple Couple or 1 adult with 1 child Couple or 1 adult with 2 children Couple or 1 adult with 3 children
Carlow County Council €270 €290 €440 €510 €570 €600 €630
Cavan County Council €190 €220 €380 €420 €450 €470 €490
Clare County Council €220 €240 €360 €400 €480 €515 €550
Cork City Council €300 €330 €550 €650 €900 €925 €950
Cork County Council €300 €330 €550 €650 €900 €925 €950
Donegal County Council €200 €230 €340 €370 €410 €470 €520
Dublin City Council €430 €500 €660 €900 €1,250 €1,275 €1,300
Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council €430 €500 €660 €900 €1,250 €1,275 €1,300
Fingal County Council €400 €440 €660 €900 €1,150 €1,175 €1,200
Galway City Council €330 €360 €575 €650 €850 €875 €900
Galway County Council €330 €360 €575 €650 €850 €875 €900
Kerry County Council €200 €230 €380 €410 €525 €550 €575
Kildare County Council €350 €400 €575 €750 €975 €1,050 €1,100
Kilkenny County Council €230 €270 €480 €530 €630 €660 €690
Laois County Council €240 €280 €420 €433 €580 €610 €630
Leitrim County Council €200 €220 €340 €370 €450 €475 €500
Limerick City and County Council €270 €300 €420 €450 €650 €700 €750
Longford County Council €180 €200 €330 €350 €400 €425 €450
Louth County Council €310 €350 €575 €650 €975 €1,050 €1,100
Mayo County Council €200 €220 €390 €410 €480 €500 €520
Meath County Council €310 €350 €575 €700 €975 €1,050 €1,100
Monaghan County Council €200 €220 €330 €390 €500 €515 €530
Offaly County Council €210 €230 €380 €435 €550 €575 €600
Roscommon County Council €240 €260 €360 €390 €500 €525 €550
Sligo County Council €220 €250 €460 €490 €550 €575 €600
South Dublin County Council €430 €500 €660 €900 €1,250 €1,275 €1,300
Tipperary County Council €210 €230 €380 €420 €525 €560 €600
Waterford City and County Council €240 €270 €430 €450 €550 €575 €600
Westmeath County Council €220 €240 €450 €470 €600 €625 €650
Wexford County Council €280 €300 €420 €433 €530 €565 €600
Wicklow County Council €370 €410 €660 €900 €1,150 €1,200 €1,250

How to apply

If you are not yet on your local authority’s housing list, you will need to apply for social housing support in the usual way.

If you are homeless in the Dublin region, contact the Dublin Place Finder Service on placefinders@dublincity.ie or contact the homeless section of your local authority.

If you are already on the housing list, and if HAP is operating in your area, you can ask the local authority for a HAP application form. This form only needs to be filled in when you have found suitable accommodation, or if you are already in private rented accommodation and eligible to transfer to HAP. Your landlord will need to complete and sign part of the HAP application form.

If you are in any doubt about whether your tenancy arrangement qualifies for HAP, check with your local authority, which can advise you on this.

If you are approved for HAP, you then sign a Rent Contribution Agreement with the local authority. You may be asked for a copy of the rental agreement with your landlord.

If you have been on Rent Supplement for a long time, the Department of Social Protection may ask you to contact your local authority about transferring to HAP.

Page edited: 1 December 2016

Language

Gaeilge

Contact Us

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.