Know Your Rights: Rent Supports For People In Private Rented Accommodation

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Know Your Rights has been compiled by Citizens Information Kerry which provides a free and confidential service to the public… 

Q. Is there any support to help me pay my rent?

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.

It 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 area and you have to meet certain qualifying conditions.

It is a short-term income support for people in the private rented sector. 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).

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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.

Q. If I have to leave my home due to Domestic Violence can I access Rent Supplement?

A. Victims of domestic violence referred from Tusla-funded services including West Cork Women Against Violence Project, An Garda Síochána and the Health Service Executive (HSE) can get immediate access to Rent Supplement. The mean-test for Rent Supplement will not apply for 3 months.

Rent Supplement can be extended for a further 3 months, but the means-test will apply.

After this 6 month period, if the person has a long term housing need, they can apply to their local housing authority for social housing supports and access the Housing Assistance Payment (HAP), if eligible.

Q. What is the Housing Assistance Payment (HAP)?

A. The Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) is a form of social housing support for people who have a long-term housing need and who are on the local authority housing list. HAP is available in all local authority areas and will eventually replace long-term Rent Supplement.

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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.

Tenants pay a weekly HAP rent contribution to the local authority, based on their income and ability to pay.  However, 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 residential tenancies legislation.

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 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.

Q. Can I avail of these supports if I am working?

Under the HAP scheme you can take up full-time employment and keep your housing support.

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.

However, if you applied for Rent Supplement on or after 13 March 2020, you may qualify for Rent Supplement if you or your partner are working more than 30 hours per week and you have had a reduction in your income from work due to the COVID-19 public health emergency.

However, it will be means tested and your income from employment will be taken into account. This is due to change at the end of 2021.

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