Housing Assistance Payment (HAP)
The Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) is a form of social housing support for people who have a long-term housing need. HAP will eventually replace long-term Rent Supplement. HAP is available in all local authority areas throughout the State.
Under the HAP scheme you can take up full-time employment and keep your housing support. The scheme is administered by the local authorities, who pay landlords directly. The rent being charged for the accommodation must be within the limits set down for the household type in that local authority’s area – see ‘Rent limits’ below. Tenants pay a weekly HAP rent contribution to the local authority, based on their income and ability to pay.
The HAP scheme
During the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic, tenants will be protected to remain in their homes.
If you are a HAP tenant and you do not experience any change in your financial circumstances as a result of the steps being taken to combat COVID-19, HAP payments will continue to be made to your landlord and your differential rent will continue to be collected.
If you are a HAP tenant and you do experience a change in financial circumstances during the pandemic, before you contact your local authority, you should contact the DSP and apply for the relevant income supports at MyWelfare.ie, for example, the new COVID-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment.
During COVID-19 measures and following the submission of DSP documentation, any differential rent arrears that accumulate will be re-assessed and rectified, as appropriate, by your local authority in due course. This will not affect your HAP payment to your landlord.
You can read more about renting and COVID-19.
Rules about the HAP payment
Who is eligible for HAP?
You must be on the local authority’s housing list – which means that you qualify for social housing support. See our document on applying for local authority/social housing for details of assessment for social housing support. You cannot transfer from any other form of social housing to HAP.
The Homeless HAP scheme, operated by the Dublin Region Homeless Executive (DRHE) on behalf of the Dublin local authorities, provides discretion to exceed the HAP rent limits for homeless households, if this is necessary in order to source suitable accommodation. To qualify for HAP under this scheme, 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.
The Dublin Place Finder Service (pdf) supports homeless households in the Dublin region to find a tenancy using HAP. In 2017, a Place Finder Service began operating in Cork city. In January 2018, all local authorities were given the option to introduce a Homeless HAP Place Finder Service in their area. If you are in emergency homeless accommodation, your local authority may help with any deposit or advance rental payments needed to get accommodation under the HAP scheme. You should contact the housing section of your local authority for further information on this.
Transferring from Rent Supplement to HAP
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 must apply within 6 weeks of being asked to do so. This deadline can be extended in certain cases. You may then be transferred to HAP or to another form of social housing support.
Tenancy arrangements under HAP
Under HAP you must find your own private rented accommodation - the local authority will not source it for you.
You cannot be discriminated against when renting because you are getting certain payments, including HAP, so landlords cannot state when advertising accommodation that HAP is not accepted.
Although the local authority administers the HAP scheme, you will not be a local authority tenant. The rental agreement will be between yourself and the private landlord and your tenancy will be covered by the Residential Tenancies Act 2004 as amended (pdf). This means that you will have certain rights and obligations, as will your landlord. Your tenancy must be registered with the Residential Tenancies Board.
You may be entitled to claim HAP if you are sharing accommodation with your landlord. If you are renting a self-contained flat or apartment in your landlord’s home, the Residential Tenancies legislation applies to your tenancy and your landlord must register with the RTB. However, if you are renting a room in your landlord’s home, your tenancy is not covered by the legislation and your landlord does not have to register with the RTB.
When you are a HAP tenant
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 will have been met under HAP and you will no longer be on the local authority’s housing waiting list. However, if you wish to have access to other social housing supports, such as local authority housing or housing provided by a housing association, you can apply to the local authority to be placed on the transfer list.
If you do apply for a transfer within 2 weeks of getting the letter confirming your HAP payment, any time that you spent on the housing list can be taken into account when your local authority considers your application. If you apply for a transfer at a later date, the time that you previously spent on the housing waiting list won’t count.
The weekly rent contribution payable 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 accordingly. You will have to 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. Check with your local authority for the details of their differential rent scheme.
Paying your landlord
The local authority will make the HAP payment to your landlord on your behalf, 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
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.
If your landlord requires a deposit, you will have to pay this yourself – the local authority will not pay it for you. In certain circumstances, you may be eligible to apply for assistance from the Department of Social Protection to help with paying a deposit. If you are in emergency homeless accommodation, your local authority may help with a deposit.
Ending a 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 elsewhere – 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.
In general, the rent must be within the prescribed HAP rent limits for your household size and the area you live in. However, flexibility of up to 20% may be provided, on a case-by-case basis, where a household cannot find suitable accommodation within these limits. As noted above, there is also additional flexibility, on a case-by-case basis, for eligible homeless households in the Dublin region.
The current limits are stated in the Housing Assistance Payment (Amendment) Regulations 2017.
This table shows the maximum monthly rent limits allowable in each local authority area for different types of household.
|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|
How to apply
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 the 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 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.
If you have been on Rent Supplement for a long time, the Department of Social Protection may ask you to contact your local authority about transferring to HAP.