Cost rental housing
What is cost rental housing?
Cost rental housing provides affordable rented accommodation to people on middle incomes. It is aimed at people who are above the threshold for social housing but have difficulty affording private rented accommodation. It is called ‘cost rental’ because the rent you pay is based on the cost of building, managing and maintaining the homes. It does not include any profit for a developer. This makes the rent cheaper than standard rents. The rent for cost rental homes must be at least 25% below regular market rents in an area.
Cost rental homes are delivered by approved housing bodies (AHB’s), local authorities and the Land Development Agency (LDA). They provide long-term security of tenure, so people can rent the same home indefinitely.
The Government aims to deliver 18,000 cost-rental homes by 2030. This is outlined in the Housing for All plan, which sets out the housing plan for Ireland to 2030.
Regulations on cost rental housing are set out in the Affordable Housing Act 2021.
How does cost rental work?
In cost rental homes, the rent is based on how much building, managing and maintaining the property will cost. This cost is calculated over a minimum of 40 years and the rents must be at least 25% below private market rents in the area. Rents are linked to annual inflation, so any rent increases will be in-line with inflation.
Tenants have greater security of tenure in cost rental homes, making renting a long-term option.
Cost rental homes are delivered by approved housing bodies (AHB’s), local authorities and the Land Development Agency (LDA). The local authorities and approved housing bodies apply for government funding and grants to help cover the cost of building or buying these homes.
Do I qualify for cost rental housing?
Cost rental homes are aimed at people on middle incomes who may have difficulty paying the rent in private rented accommodation, but who don’t meet the income criteria for social housing support.
You qualify for cost rental housing if:
- Your net household income is below €66,000 per annum for Dublin and €59,000 for everywhere else in the country. These income limits were increased from €53,000 nationwide on 1 August 2023.
- You are not getting any social housing supports, including the Housing Assistance Payment (HAP)
- You do not own a property
- Your household size matches the size of the property advertised. For example, a two-bed unit may be suitable for two adults, a couple, or lone parent with 1 or more children.
- You can afford to pay the rent for the home
- Your household has only applied once for a specific cost rental property
Note: Net household income is calculated by adding together the net income for each household member aged 18 and over. Net income means that income tax, universal social charge, PRSI and superannuation contributions are deducted from the relevant gross assessable income.
Eligibility criteria for cost rental homes are set out in SI 755 of 2021.
How do I apply for a cost rental home?
Cost rental homes are new and only a number of these developments have been delivered so far.
When cost rental homes become available, they are advertised online by the AHB, local authority or LDA, depending on who is administering the individual scheme. If you are interested in cost rental housing, you should check the AHB and local authority websites for details on upcoming schemes. You apply for each cost rental home as it becomes available, there is no central application system.
The landlord (AHB, local authority or LDA) decides on the application process for each cost rental scheme. For example, an AHB may take applications online on its website. If there are more applications than homes available, there will be a lottery for places. Every eligible application for each unit type will be entered into a lottery and names will be chosen at random. Each landlord may have a different process for confirming eligibility, including asking for specific documentation.
When you are a cost rental tenant
When you are a cost rental tenant, your landlord will be the organisation who delivered your home. For example, the AHB or local authority who provided your cost rental home or an agent operating on their behalf. You will have a tenancy agreement with the landlord, which will include details about the length of the tenancy, as well as the rights and responsibilities you have as a tenant. With cost rental homes you get longer security of tenure. For example, under one of the first AHB cost rental schemes, the initial tenancy is for 6 years. Then, the tenancy automatically rolls over indefinitely after that, if there are no issues with breaches of tenancy or rent arrears.
If you are a tenant in cost rental housing, you are protected in residential tenancies legislation. You have some of the same rights as private tenants. For example, you can access the RTB’s dispute resolution process and your tenancy must be registered with the RTB. However, there are some differences, for example, the rent setting process is different and a cost rental tenancy cannot be terminated for the same reasons as private tenancies.
Your rent must be at least 25% below private market rents in the area. Rents are linked to inflation, so any rent increases will be in-line with inflation. Your cost rental tenancy agreement may include information about how often your rent will be reviewed. However, if it does not, the general rules say that rent cannot be reviewed within 12 months of the start of the tenancy and not more than once every 12 months after that. You must get notice of a rent review and this notice must contain specific information about the new rent. If you have a dispute about the new rent, you can bring this to the RTB within 28 days of getting the rent review notice.
If your circumstances change when you are a cost rental tenant, you can continue renting the property. For example, if your household income increases above the income limit after you’ve moved in, you won’t have to move out.