Rental Accommodation Scheme

Introduction

If you are getting Rent Supplement for a long period and you are in need of long-term housing, you may be eligible for the Rental Accommodation Scheme (RAS). The scheme is run by local authorities. The local authority makes the final decision about who is eligible for the scheme. In general, people who are getting Rent Supplement for more than 18 months are considered for RAS.

A significant difference between RAS and Rent Supplement is that tenants who take up full-time employment can stay in the RAS scheme, with a recalculated rent – see ‘Rates’ below.

The Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) will eventually replace RAS. However, you cannot transfer from RAS to HAP.

Rules

How the scheme works

Under the Rental Accommodation Scheme, local authorities draw up contracts with landlords to provide housing for people with a long-term housing need. The landlord agrees to provide housing for a specific amount of time, and this is covered in the contract with the local authority. The local authority pays the rent directly to the landlord. You may continue to contribute to your rent but you pay this contribution to your local authority, not to your landlord.

The key elements of the scheme are:

  • Local authorities pay the full rent to the landlord on behalf of the tenant
  • Landlords must register tenancies with the Residential Tenancies Board (RTB) and the tenancies are covered by residential tenancies legislation
  • The property must meet minimum standards for private rental accommodation and the landlord is responsible for maintenance and repairs at the property
  • Deposits are not needed, as the local authority has the contract with the landlord
  • Tenants who take up full-time employment can stay renting under RAS

If you are a landlord renting to RAS tenants you may be able to get increased tax relief. To get this relief you must rent the property to tenants on social housing supports (including RAS) for at least 3 years. See ‘Tax relief for landlords’ for more information about this.

When you are a RAS tenant

In general, if you are housed under RAS, your housing needs have been met and you will no longer be on the local authority’s housing waiting list. However, if you were housed under RAS before 1 April 2011, you may be able to access housing from the local authority or approved housing body. To do this, you should apply to the local authority to go on a transfer list.

If your landlord plans to sell

Under RAS, your landlord signs a contract with the local authority to provide housing for an agreed amount of time. However, if your landlord decides to sell the property, they can terminate the contract. RAS tenancies are covered by residential tenancies legislation, so your landlord must follow the normal rules when terminating the tenancy. Read about these rules in our document if your landlord wants you to leave.

Rates

The rent that you pay is calculated according to the local authority’s differential rent scheme. If your income increases, you will be asked for a higher contribution towards the rent. Check with your local authority for the details of their differential rent scheme.

Where to apply

Apply to your local authority.

Further information

The Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage publishes further information about RAS, including a set of FAQs for landlords and tenants.

Page edited: 2 September 2021