Housing Assistance Payment (HAP)

What is the Housing Assistance Payment?

The Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) is a social housing support for people who have a long-term housing need.

The scheme is administered by the local authorities, who pay the landlords directly.

The rent being charged for the accommodation must be within the limits for the household type in that local authority’s area – see ‘What are the HAP rent limits’.

When you are a HAP tenant you pay a weekly HAP rent contribution to the local authority, based on your income and ability to pay. Under the HAP scheme you can take up full-time employment and keep your housing support.

There is detailed information about HAP on hap.ie, including booklets for landlords (pdf) and tenants (pdf), along with a general information leaflet (pdf).

Who can get the HAP payment?

To get the Housing Assistance Payment, you must be on the local authority’s housing list. This means that you qualify for social housing support.

Our page applying for local authority/social housing has details of how the local authority assesses you for social housing support.

You cannot transfer from any other form of social housing to HAP. However, you may be asked to transfer from Rent Supplement to HAP – see ‘How do I apply for HAP’.

How does the HAP scheme work?

You must find your own private rented accommodation within the HAP rent limits. The local authority will not find the accommodation for you.

You cannot be discriminated against when renting because you are getting certain payments, including HAP, so landlords cannot state that HAP is not accepted when advertising accommodation.

The local authority pays the landlord each month and you pay a weekly rent contribution to the local authority. However, you are not a local authority tenant. The rental agreement is between you and your landlord and your tenancy is covered by residential tenancies legislation. This means that you have certain rights and responsibilities, as will your landlord. Your tenancy must be registered with the Residential Tenancies Board every year.

You may be able to claim HAP if you are sharing accommodation with your landlord.

What are the HAP rent limits?

In general, the rent must be within the HAP rent limits for your household size and the area you live in.

However, local authorities have flexibility to go above the HAP rent limits, if you can’t find accommodation within the limits. They do this on a case-by-case basis and can:

  • Go up to 35% above the rent limits. This flexibility was increased from 20% to 35% on 11 July 2022 and applies to new and existing HAP tenancies.
  • Increase the HAP rates for a single person to the rates allowed for couples. This has been allowed since 11 July 2022 and applies to new HAP tenancies.

There is also flexibility, on a case-by-case basis, for eligible homeless households in the Dublin region, see What is Homeless HAP.

The table below shows the maximum monthly rent limits in each local authority area for different types of household. If you have 4 or more children in your household, contact your local authority to discuss your HAP rate.

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 €430 €500 €660 €900 €1,250 €1,275 €1,300
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

What if I find accommodation in another local authority area?

If you qualify for social housing support in one local authority area, but find suitable rented accommodation in another area, you may be able to get HAP from the first local authority to help pay for it. This means you won’t have to be reassessed for social housing support or reapply for HAP in the new area.

This process is known as Inter-Authority Movement of Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) Scheme Applicants.

To qualify, one of the following must apply:

  • The income limit for social housing support in the new local authority area is the same or higher than the limit in the area where you qualified. (There are 3 different qualifying income limits for social housing support, with different limits applying to different locations.)
  • Your income is below the social housing support limit in the new local authority area, if the income limit in that area is lower than in the area where you qualified. This will be verified by the local authority.
  • Both local authority areas offer ‘shared areas of choice’ in their housing allocations schemes.

You may also need to meet other criteria to qualify. The local authority will decide on your case.

How does it work?

Your original local authority will treat you as if you are renting accommodation in their area. Their housing allocations scheme will apply to you and you can be added to their social housing transfer list.

However, the new local authority will be responsible for inspecting the property and the HAP rent limits for the new area will apply to the property.

If you have questions about this process, you should contact your local authority for more information.

What is Homeless HAP?

The Homeless HAP scheme is operated by the Dublin Region Homeless Executive (DRHE) for the Dublin local authorities. It provides discretion to exceed the HAP rent limits by up to 50% for homeless households, if this is necessary to source suitable accommodation. To qualify for Homeless HAP, 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.

A Homeless HAP Place Finder Service is available in all local authority areas. This Service helps homeless households or households at immediate risk of homelessness, who are finding it difficult to get a HAP tenancy. The local authority can help with any deposit or advance rental payments needed to get accommodation under the HAP scheme.

The Dublin Place Finder Service also supports homeless households in the Dublin region to find a tenancy using HAP. You should contact the housing section of your local authority for further information on this.

What happens when you are a HAP tenant?

When you have qualified for social housing support and are getting HAP, you will continue to get the payment, even if you no longer meet all the qualifying criteria of the social housing assessment. For example, if your income rises above the income threshold for social housing, you will remain eligible for HAP. However, you must inform the local authority if your income changes, so they can recalculate the differential rent you pay, see Rent contribution below.

The local authority will inspect your accommodation within 8 months of the first HAP payment to your landlord, unless the accommodation has already been inspected in the last twelve months. An inspector will check that the accommodation meets the minimum standards for rented housing.

Your housing needs have now been met under HAP and you will no longer be on the local authority’s housing waiting list. However, if you still want to be considered for local authority housing or housing provided by an approved housing body, you can apply to the local authority to be placed on the transfer list.

How much rent do I pay the local authority?

The weekly rent contribution that you pay will be based on the current ‘differential rent scheme’ for your local authority. This scheme links the rent contribution a household must pay to the household income and the ability to pay. If your income increases so does your rent contribution, and if your income decreases, the weekly rent contribution decreases.

You must notify the local authority of any changes in your income or household size, so that your rent contribution can be recalculated. If you take up a job or increase your working hours, you will still be eligible for HAP, as there is no income limit for HAP once you have qualified for the scheme. Check with your local authority for the details of their differential rent scheme.

How do I pay rent to the local authority?

Your weekly rent contribution to the local authority should be paid using either:

If your rent is not automatically paid in these 2 ways, you can pay it:

You can also get a statement of your HAP payments online or using the HAP app.

If you overpay your rent by mistake, you can apply for a refund.

Paying your landlord

The local authority will make the HAP payment to your landlord on the last Wednesday of each month. This payment is 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 anyone in your household must not engage in anti-social behaviour

Find more information about these terms and conditions on hap.ie.

All local authorities use the HAP Shared Services Centre, which is based in Limerick, to collect rents from HAP tenants and make HAP rental payments to landlords.

Additional rent payments and deposits

If your rent is more than the HAP limits allowed for your household, you must pay the additional amount directly to your landlord. However, your local authority must make sure that your tenancy is sustainable, so you will not get a HAP payment if you can’t afford the rent.

If your landlord needs a deposit, you will have to pay this yourself. The local authority will not pay it for you. In certain circumstances, you may be able to get assistance from the Department of Social Protection to help with paying your deposit. If you are in emergency homeless accommodation, your local authority may help with a deposit.

What if I need to end my 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 somewhere else. 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 wants to end a residential tenancy, they must comply with the relevant legislation. Read more on Threshold’s website.

How do I apply for HAP?

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 already on the housing list, you can ask your 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 a tenant and in any doubt about whether your tenancy arrangement qualifies for HAP, check with your local authority.

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 to apply for HAP.

If you are getting Rent Supplement and qualify for social housing support, you can apply for HAP for your existing accommodation.

If 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 may then be transferred to HAP or to another form of social housing support.

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.

How do I make a complaint?

You can complain if you don’t agree with a decision your local authority made about your HAP application or payment, or you are unhappy with how they dealt with you.

You complain to your local authority first. They should have an internal complaints procedure on their website with information about:

  • How you can make a complaint
  • How your complaint will be dealt with
  • How long it will take to respond to you about your complaint
  • How to appeal, if there is an internal appeals process

If you are not happy with how your local authority deals with your complaint, or you think you have been unfairly treated, you can take your complaint to the Ombudsman. The Office of the Ombudsman investigates complaints about local authorities and other public bodies. 

Page edited: 11 January 2024