Rent Supplement is a means-tested payment for certain people living in private rented accommodation who cannot provide for the cost of their accommodation from their own resources.
In the past, you could apply for Rent Supplement if you were qualified for social housing support and were on the local authority’s housing list. However, people in this situation should now apply for the Housing Assistance Payment (HAP). You will only qualify for Rent Supplement if you meet the eligibility criteria as specified in ‘Rules’ below.
The Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) is a form of social housing support for people who have a long-term housing need. It is available in all local authority areas throughout the State. HAP will eventually replace long-term Rent Supplement.
The HAP scheme aims to allow all social housing supports to be accessed through the local authorities and to enable people to take up full-time employment and keep their housing support. Read more in our document on HAP and on hap.ie.
Tax relief is available for landlords who rent to tenants getting Rent Supplement or HAP. Read more in our document on Housing tax credits and reliefs.
Equality legislation specifies a number of grounds under which landlords cannot discriminate against potential tenants. These include the “housing assistance” ground. Read more in ‘Discrimination when letting residential property’ below.
As noted above, HAP is now available nationwide. If you qualify for social housing support and you need help with your rent, you should apply for HAP. You are only eligible for Rent Supplement if you are a genuine (bona fide) tenant and meet one of the following conditions:
If you need help with your rent but you don’t meet these conditions, you must contact your local authority to have your housing needs assessed. If you are eligible for and in need of housing support you may be able to access housing under the HAP scheme or local authority housing.
If you are currently getting long-term Rent Supplement (18 months or more) you can be asked to apply for social housing support to your local authority. You must apply within 6 weeks of being asked to do so (if necessary an extra 6 weeks can be allowed). You may then be transferred to HAP or to another form of social housing support.
Rent Supplement will only be provided if the accommodation is suitable for your needs. Rent Supplement is not generally paid if the rent is above the maximum rent limit set for your county (see ‘Rates’ below for information about these limits and circumstances where they may be waived).
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 for this property unless you can prove that you are a genuine (bona fide) tenant.
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 - defined as 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 employment or self-employment, or if you are getting the Back to Work Enterprise Allowance, you must be deemed eligible for the Rental Accommodation Scheme (RAS) by your local authority to continue to get Rent Supplement.
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.
*SWA is the scheme under which Rent Supplement is paid.
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 - not taken into 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 FET (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. A couple claiming Rent Supplement must pay at least €40 a week towards their 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.
Since January 2017, people aged 18-24 who are on age-related benefits pay a lower Household Contribution. The contribution is reduced from €30 to €10 per week for Rent Supplement recipients who are getting Jobseeker’s Allowance (JA) or Supplementary Welfare Allowance of €100 per week and from €30 to €20 for those who are getting JA of €144.
For people who are getting BTEA, a Further Education and Training (FET) training allowance or on Youthreach, where the age-related rate of €160 applies, the Household Contribution is reduced from €30 to €20 a week.
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.
Equality legislation applies to lettings and accommodation. Landlords cannot discriminate against potential tenants on grounds of gender, civil status, family status, sexual orientation, religion, age, disability, race or membership of the Traveller community.
You cannot be discriminated against when renting because you are getting Rent Supplement, HAP or any other social welfare payment. (This is known as the “housing assistance” ground.) This means that landlords can no longer state when advertising accommodation that Rent Supplement (or HAP) is not accepted and they cannot refuse to rent you accommodation because you are getting a social welfare payment. If you feel you have been discriminated against by a landlord or their agent, you can find out more about making a complaint under the Equal Status Acts.
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 minus the appropriate rate of Household Contribution (see above). 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) should not be above the maximum rent limit set for your county or area (this provision can be waived in some circumstances). 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 the rent is in line with local market rates the limits can be exceeded in some cases.
You can find the rent limits for Rent Supplement on the Department's website. Note that the Community Welfare Office may set lower rates within these 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 Household Contribution set out above also applies.
If you are currently getting Rent Supplement, there is no automatic increase to a new rate if the rates increase (as you are currently signed up to a tenancy agreement with your landlord). The current rate limits will apply when your existing lease expires or when your claim is reviewed. You can request a review of your Rent Supplement claim by contacting the office dealing with your claim.
Tenants living in Dublin, Kildare, Meath, Wicklow, Cork City and its environs, Galway, Mayo and Roscommon can access the Tenancy Protection Service operated by Threshold on Freephone 1800 454 454.
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.
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 Intreo or social welfare branch office. 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 office. 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:
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.