Rent Supplement is paid to people living in private rented accommodation who cannot provide for the cost of their accommodation from their own resources. In general, you will qualify for a Rent Supplement, if your only income is a social welfare payment and you satisfy the other conditions - see 'Rules' below.
The amount of Rent Supplement you get will be calculated to ensure that your income after paying rent does not fall below a minimum level.
If your circumstances change you may no longer qualify for Rent Supplement or the amount of your payment may change. Read more about Rent Supplement and changes to your circumstances. You can also read FAQs about Rent Supplement from the Department of Social Protection.
Revised rent limits for the Rent Supplement scheme were announced in June 2013 and came into effect from Monday 17 June 2013.
In 2013 the Government approved a plan for the transfer of responsibility for recipients of Rent Supplement with a long-term housing need from the Department of Social Protection to housing authorities using a new Housing Assistance Payment (HAP). HAP has been piloted in Limerick City and County Council with further roll out to selected housing authorities during the year. The legislation to implement the HAP is the Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2014 (pdf) which is currently going through the Oireachtas.
Rent Supplement will only be provided if the accommodation is suitable for your needs and the rent is below the maximum rent limit set for your county (see ‘Rates’ below for the current limits).
You may get Rent Supplement if you have been living for 6 months (183 days) out of the last 12 months in one, or a combination, of the following:
You must also:
You won’t qualify for Rent Supplement if you:
Renting from a parent: You cannot get Rent Supplement to help you pay rent to your parent if you are living in the family home. If your parent owns a second property, you will generally not get Rent Supplement to rent this property from them unless it is a bona fide tenancy and you are assessed as having a housing need. Your parent must also be able to prove that they have a history of renting this property.
Sharing with your landlord: You may be entitled to get Rent Supplement if you are living in your landlord’s home. It must be a genuine landlord/tenant arrangement. Your landlord has to fill in part of the form and provide his or her PPS number (see 'How to apply' below).
You will not qualify for Rent Supplement if you are in full-time employment (30 hours or more a week). (In the case of couples, if one of a couple is in full time employment, both are excluded from claiming Rent Supplement). Claims from self-employed people are assessed on the individual circumstances of the case and you may be asked to show that you are working less than 30 hours a week. If you are working over 30 hours a week in self-employment you must be deemed eligible for the Rental Accommodation Scheme (RAS) by your local authority to continue to get Rent Supplement.
Since June 2007, if you have been accepted as being in need of accommodation under the Rental Accommodation Scheme by your local authority and you have been unemployed or not in full-time employment for at least 12 months before you start work you may be able to keep your Rent Supplement. You may also be entitled to retain Rent Supplement if you have been participating in a Community Employment Scheme or getting Back to Work Allowance or Back to Work Enterprise Allowance immediately before you start work.
However, you will be reassessed for Rent Supplement and some of your additional income including some of your income from employment will be taken into account. As a result of the reassessment you may or may not continue to qualify for Rent Supplement. If you do qualify for Rent Supplement you may get a different rate of Supplement.
The capital value of property (except your own home), savings and investments is assessed as follows:
|Capital||Weekly means assessed as|
|Next €10,000||€1 per €1,000|
|Next €25,000||€2 per €1,000
|Any capital over €40,000||€4 per €1,000.|
Income from the following sources is disregarded or not taken in account when calculating the amount of Rent Supplement you qualify for:
*Additional household income is income from part-time employment or part-time self-employment, Family Income Supplement (FIS), Community Employment (CE), the Tús scheme, JobBridge,the Rural Social Scheme, Momentum, Part-time Job Incentive Scheme, Skillnets, Work Placement Scheme, Gateway, Back to Work Allowance, Back to Work Enterprise Allowance or a SOLAS (formerly FÁS) course. Part of a maintenance payment is also assessed as additional household income (see below).
If you were getting Rent Supplement before 5 June 2007, you can continue to have your income assessed using the old income disregards, unless the current income disregards ensure a more favourable assessment. However, if you do not claim Rent Supplement for more than 13 weeks you will be assessed using the current income disregards. (See 'Further information' below for more information on how income was assessed for Rent Supplement before 5 June 2007.)
Maintenance is assessed as additional household income (see above) and maintenance payments up to €95.23 per week are assessed in full. The household income disregard (see above) applies to maintenance payments above this amount. The reason for this is that the first €95.23 per week of maintenance payments are considered to be a contribution towards your housing expenses.
Example: if your only additional household income is maintenance, all of your maintenance payment up to €95.23 per week is assessed in full. The household income disregard of €75 applies to sums above this, so that any maintenance between €95.23 and €170.23 is not taken into account. 25% of all maintenance over €170.23 is also not taken into account.
Once the amount of Rent Supplement you qualify for has been worked out, it will be reduced by a minimum of €30. This is because you must pay at least €30 a week towards your rent. You may pay more than €30 because you are also required to contribute any additional assessable means that you have above the appropriate basic Supplementary Welfare Allowance rate towards your rent. If you are one of a couple and are claiming Rent Supplement you must pay at least €40 a week towards your rent.
Any non-dependent household members who are solely dependent on a personal social welfare payment must also contribute €30. However, if benefit and privilege has been assessed against your social welfare payment you do not have to contribute €30. If the non-dependent household members are a couple their contribution is €40.
A couple over 65 with an income equal to or less than the State Pension (Contributory) for their situation will contribute €40 a week towards their rent. A couple who both have State Pensions (Contributory) and no other income will also contribute €40 towards their weekly rent.
Calculating your Rent Supplement can be difficult. The Department of Social Protection's representative (formerly known as the Community Welfare Officer) will decide if you are eligible for Rent Supplement and calculate the amount you will get. More information is available on how to calculate Rent Supplement.
Rent Supplement is paid to you weekly or monthly by cheque, Electronic Fund Transfer or post draft, usually in arrears.
The amount of Rent Supplement that is calculated will generally ensure that your income, after paying rent, does not fall below a minimum level. This level is the basic Supplementary Welfare Allowance rate for your circumstances (€186 for a single person and €310.80 for a couple) minus €30 (or €40 for a couple). You must always pay at least €30 towards your rent. However, you may pay more depending on your means - see 'Rules' above.
The rent paid to your landlord (that is, your contribution plus your Rent Supplement) must not be above the maximum rent limit set for your county or area. The maximum rent limit for your county is set by the Department of Social Protection (DSP). However, the Community Welfare Office may set lower rates within these limits. There is a maximum rent limit for each area (see below). If your actual rent is higher than the local maximum, you may be refused Rent Supplement entirely.
In some cases Rent Supplement can be paid at the discretion of the DSP staff administering the scheme where the rent is over the relevant limit:
If, when your Rent Supplement claim is reviewed, the rent you pay is above the relevant limit and your lease is not due for renewal, you will be expected to re-negotiate your rent with your landlord. If the landlord insists that the terms of the current lease are not negotiable and does not reduce the rent to the new limits the DSP representative will discuss your options with you. These may include seeking other accommodation. If this happens you will continue to be paid Rent Supplement for a reasonable period of time while you secure new accommodation.
These are the maximum rent limits from 17 June 2013 (lower rates can be set for areas within each county).
|County||Single person in shared accommodation||Couple in shared accommodation||Single person||Couple with no children||Couple with 1 child or one-parent with 1 child||Couple with 2 children or one-parent with 2 children||Couple with 3 children or one-parent with 3 children|
|Dublin - Fingal||€300||€350||€520||€700||€850||€900||€950|
|Dublin - other local authorities||€350||€400||€520||€750||€950||€975||€1000|
|Wicklow (Bray Area)*||€275||€300||€520||€680||€850||€925||€1,000|
|North Kildare Area**||€270||€290||€500||€575||€750||€800||€850|
* These limits apply to the towns of Bray, Delgany and Greystones only. All other areas in Wicklow are subject to the Wicklow limits.
** These limits apply to the towns of Kilcock, Maynooth, Leixlip and Celbridge only. All other areas and towns in Kildare are subject to the Kildare limits.
SI 221/07 sets down that the maximum amounts of Rent Supplement payable for tenants in voluntary housing developments (funded through the Capital Assistance Scheme) are €55 for a single person and €60 for a couple. The minimum contribution set out above also applies (€30 for a single person and €40 for a couple).
To apply, fill in an application form for Rent Supplement (pdf). The Department of Social Protection's representative (formerly known as the Community Welfare Officer) or local Citizens Information Service can help you fill in this form.
Part of the form will need to be filled in by your landlord or their agent. Your landlord will need to provide their tax reference number (normally their PPS number) to the Department of Social Protection (DSP). If your landlord does not wish to fill in the form a separate form (SWA 3C) (pdf) is available. If your landlord does not have a tax reference number, they should state this in writing to the DSP and explain why this is the case. Your Rent Supplement may not be paid if your landlord has not given their tax number to the DSP or has not explained why they do not have one.
Another part of the form may need to be filled in by your local authority, to confirm you are on their housing list and have a housing need (if you are not exempt from this rule).
You also need to bring the following documents:
The Department of Social Protection's representative (formerly known as the Community Welfare Officer) usually visits you to confirm your circumstances.
If you are not satisfied with a decision made in relation to Rent Supplement, you should first find out why the decision was made by asking the Department of Social Protection's representative (formerly known as the Community Welfare Officer). You should provide any extra documentation to back up your case.
If the decision is not changed, then request an appeal form. Include as much detail as possible in your appeal and keep photocopies of everything.
If your appeal is unsuccessful, you can refer the appeal to the Social Welfare Appeals Office. You may request a personal hearing and you can bring along a representative to help argue your case.
To apply for Rent Supplement you should contact the Department of Social Protection's representative (formerly known as the Community Welfare Officer) at your local health centre. However in some areas new Rent Supplement applications are processed by centralised Rent Units. To see if your area is dealt with by a central Rent Unit you can view the central rent unit list.
If you live in one of these areas you can get a rent pack from your local health centre. This pack contains detailed information (including a list of documentation you will need) and all the relevant application forms. You should read the information in the pack carefully. If you are satisfied that you have all the necessary documents ready you can forward your application to the relevant Rent Unit. The processing of your application may be delayed if you do not supply all the information requested in the pack. The Unit will contact you if they need any further information. If they do not need any more information they will tell you when your application will be processed.
A certain amount of your income is not taken into account in the assessment for Rent Supplement. The income not taken into account is called an income disregard. The current income disregards came into effect on 5 June 2007.
All existing Rent Supplement claims in payment on 5 June 2007 were reviewed and assessed using both the current income disregards and the old income disregards. If you would get more Rent Supplement using the old income disregards (see below), you continued to be assessed using the old income disregards until:
Income from the following sources was not taken into account in the assessment of Rent Supplement claims made before 5 June 2007:
From 5th June 2007, new Rent Supplement claims cannot get special retention arrangements. Before 5 June 2007, you could continue to get Rent Supplement while you were in employment under special retention arrangements, for example, if you were participating in a Community Employment Scheme.
Under these special retention arrangements you would continue to get 75% of your Rent Supplement rate during your first year in employment, 50% in the second year and 25% in the third and fourth year. After the fourth year you would no longer be entitled to Rent Supplement if you were in employment.
If you are currently getting Rent Supplement under special retention arrangements your claim will be regularly reassessed comparing the effect of the old assessment and the new income disregards. The new income disregards will be applied to your claim if it means you will get a greater amount of Rent Supplement.
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.