Rent Supplement - Frequently Asked Questions


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1.     

1. What is Rent Supplement?
2. Can I get temporary Rent Supplement if I am already getting a social welfare payment?
3. What is HAP and how does it relate to Rent Supplement
4. What are the qualifying conditions for Rent Supplement following the introduction of HAP?
5. Are there other qualification conditions for Rent Supplement?
6. What is the National Tenancy Sustainment Framework?
7. What role does Threshold fulfil within the National Tenancy Sustainment Framework (NTSF)?
8. How much Rent Supplement Support will I get?
9. Can I get Rent Supplement if the rent for the property is higher than the limits set for the area?
10. Who does not qualify for Rent Supplement?
11. What is a housing authority and what do they do?
12. How do I apply for Rent Supplement?
13. What documents do I need when applying?
14. What happens if I am asked to attend a meeting with the person processing my claim?
15. Why is my Rent Supplement support so low when compared to the rent that I have to pay or compared to other persons with similar tenancies?
16. Why do I have to pay so much myself along with the Rent Supplement?
17. When and how often is Rent Supplement paid?
18. What does my landlord have to do so that I can get Rent Supplement?
19. Can the Rent Supplement be paid to Landlord directly?
20. Can my Rent Supplement be stopped without notification?
21. What happens if I am not satisfied with a decision to stop or refuse Rent Supplement?
22. What is the Residential Tenancies Board (RTB)?
23. Will my Rent Supplement be stopped if I refuse social housing?
24. Will my Rent Supplement be stopped if I refuse work to cooperate with local authority with HAP?
25. Can an officer ask me to make a Housing Needs Assessment application before I’ve been on rent supplement for eighteen months?
26. What happens if the local authority has determined that HAP is the appropriate form of social housing support for me?
27. What happens when the officer dealing with your case reviews your rent supplement claim?
28. Will the Department need to inspect my accommodation before I can get Rent Supplement?
29. What happens if my landlord refuses to provide me his/her Tax Reference Number/PPS Number?
30. What happens to my payment if I go on holidays overseas or leave the country?
31. Do I pay tax, Universal Social Charge, PRSI on my Rent supplement payment?


1.What is Rent Supplement?

Rent Supplement is paid to people living in private rented accommodation who cannot afford the cost of their accommodation from their own resources.

Rent Supplement provides a short term income support to those who are temporarily unemployed, If you have a long term social housing need you should apply for your housing support through your local authority, the principal scheme which allows you to source private rented accommodation for your social housing needs via the local authority is the Housing Assistance Payment Scheme (HAP).

If you are seeking Rent Supplement Support from the Department of Social Protection and Employment Affairs you must satisfy the conditions of the scheme. Support is generally provided to those who were renting for at least six months and who can no longer afford their accommodation costs due to being made unemployed.

2.Can I get temporary Rent Supplement if I am already getting a social welfare payment?

Yes, you can. The purpose of Rent Supplement is to help you meet your accommodation costs while you are receiving a social welfare payment. However you will not automatically qualify for Rent Supplement because you are receiving a Social Welfare payment as there are other conditions that you must meet. 

3.What  is HAP and how does it relate to Rent Supplement

The Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) is a form of social housing support for people who have a long-term housing need.  HAP, similar to Rent Supplement, allows tenants to meet their housing needs through the private sector. It is available in all local authority areas throughout the State.
 
HAP has effectively replaced Rent Supplement for those seeking or requiring long term social housing support. As part of the transition to HAP people who are currently in receipt of rent supplement with long term social housing needs are being transferred to HAP.
 
If you qualify for social housing support and you need help with your rent, you should, and will be referred to, apply for HAP.
 
A key principle of HAP is to enable people to take up full-time employment and keep their housing support.

4.What are the qualifying conditions for Rent Supplement following the introduction of HAP?

With HAP now nationwide. Rent Supplement’s qualification criteria are re-aligned with its original intended role of providing short term income support for those who are temporarily unemployed. You can qualify for rent supplement if:

  • You were previously in receipt of a Rent Supplement payment within 12 months of the date of your new application; or,
  • You were residing in private rented accommodation (where at the commencement of the tenancy you could afford the rent and you have experienced a substantial change in your circumstances where you are now unable to pay the rent) for a period of 183 days within the preceding 12 months of the date of claim for Rent Supplement.

 

You may be considered for Rent Supplement, if you are living in an institution or accommodation for homeless people for at least 6 months (183 days) of the last 12 months. However, if you have already been assessed as qualified for social housing support, you will be referred to your local authority to have your housing needs addressed (rather than being assessed for Rent Supplement).
 
Applicants who do not satisfy these conditions will be referred immediately to their local housing authority to have their housing needs assessed. The claimant’s eligibility for social housing support, which includes HAP, will be determined by their respective local authority.

5.Are there other qualification conditions for Rent Supplement?

Barring the primary conditions set out in question 4, the officer dealing with your claim must also be satisfied that:

  • Your tenancy is a bona fide tenancy;
  • The accommodation you have sourced is suited to your needs (and you are not over accommodated);
  • You are habitually resident in the State.

6.What is the National Tenancy Sustainment Framework?

Under the National Tenancy Sustainment Framework (NTSF), DEASP staff administering the scheme can provide additional financial support where a landlord increases / provides a rent above the prevailing maximum rent limit.
The Framework is the Department’s response to the lack of supply in the private rental sector and the associated premiums for vacant properties. If you are having difficulty with your Rent Supplement for any other reason, you should contact the DEASP's community welfare service officer at your local office as soon as possible.
Notwithstanding the Framework, the award of additional support above your prevailing rent limit can be made for a number of different reasons, for example:

  • If you or a member of your household requires specially adapted accommodation due to a disability;
  • If you are separated father and there is a necessity for overnight stays for your children.

Where an award for additional support is applied for, the individual circumstances of the case will be considered, with the person’s housing needs remaining the priority.

7.What role does Threshold fulfil within the National Tenancy Sustainment Framework (NTSF)?

The NTSF allows your community welfare officer to make higher payments than the relevant maximum rent limit – See Question 6 for a fuller understanding of the NTSF.
An arrangement is in place with Threshold for areas where supply issues are particularly acute: Dublin; Cork; Meath; Kildare; Wicklow; and Galway City. Threshold can provide additional support with your tenancy including liaison with your landlord and the Department.
 
In all cases, you should contact the Community Welfare Service officer dealing with your case at the earliest opportunity – they can, under the NTSF, provide an increase in your rental support backdated as necessary. The officer dealing with the case may provide you  with a quicker resolution to your housing difficulty with a prompt decision made under the NTSF .

8.How much Rent Supplement Support will I get?

Whether your rent will be awarded will include the consideration of the appropriate maximum rent limit for your area and family circumstances alongside the operation of the National Tenancy Sustainment Framework.
In all cases, you should discuss your application with the officer dealing with your case.
 
The contribution that you have to pay towards your rent, which reduces the amount of Rent Supplement support you receive, will be determined the income that you and any of your household members receive.  
If your accommodation is funded through the Capital Assistance Scheme, the amount of Rent Supplement provided cannot exceed €55 per week for single people and €60 per week in all other cases.

9.Can I get Rent Supplement if the rent for the property is higher than the limits set for the area?

Primarily, an officer dealing your claim will consider the maximum Rent Supplement limits for your area and family circumstances when deciding your claim.  
Generally, if your rent is above your appropriate rent limit, the officer will consider your case under the National Tenancy Sustainment Framework (NTSF) – see Question 6.
 
The Department’s flexible payment approach, which includes the NTSF, allows officers to provide additional support, above your prevailing rent limit. This approach is a targeted case-by-case approach, and applies to both existing and new customers.
 
The central purpose of this flexible payment strategy, providing additional payments above the maximum limits when deemed necessary, is for customers to both retain their home and/or avoid homelessness whenever possible. It also ensures that people who require specially adapted accommodation or require overnight stays for their children can have their housing needs met under the Scheme.

10.Who does not qualify for Rent Supplement?

You will not qualify for Rent Supplement if:

  • You work full-time (more than 29 hours per week) unless you have been deemed as eligible for the Rental Accommodation Scheme by the local housing authority. Your spouse or partner is engaged in full time employment.
  • You are in full time education (some exceptions apply).
  • You are involved in a trade dispute. However your dependant spouse and dependent children are not excluded from SWA for the period of the strike.
  • You are living in accommodation provided by a local authority.
  • You are living in accommodation provided by the Health Service Executive.
  • You are living in accommodation provided by a body or organisation which provides services on behalf of, or similar to, or ancillary to the Health Service Executive, where that body uses residential care staff in providing such services and also receives a subvention payment from the Minister for Health in respect of you.
  • You are living in accommodation provided by a voluntary housing body where that body receives a subsidy under the rental subsidy scheme.
  • You are receiving a rent allowance from the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection due to being a tenant in decontrolled rented accommodation.
  • You are admitted to an institution for a period of in excess of 13 weeks.
  • You have failed to make a housing needs assessment application upon request by their CWO, or failed to cooperate with their respective local authority (e.g. has not provided additional documentation requested by the local authority), in making a social housing assessment within the meaning of Section 20 of the Housing  Act 2009.
  • You have been excluded from the local authority housing list.
  • You have left local authority accommodation without satisfying the officer dealing with your claim there was good reason for doing so.
  • You refuse two offers of social housing from a Local Authority within a 12 month period.
  • You are not lawfully in the State.
  • You have made an application for asylum under the Refugee Act, 1996 and your application is awaiting final decision by the Minister for Justice and Equality.
  • You have made an application under the Aliens Act, 1935 to remain in the State and your application has not been determined.
  • Your landlord does not provide their Tax Reference Number or a valid reason for not having a Tax Reference Number.
  • The officer dealing with your claim may also decide that a Rent Supplement may not be paid where  the housing authority has decided that your accommodation does not meet the relevant standards e.g. the accommodation is not in a proper state of structural repair or the quality of lighting, ventilation, water and sanitary services is inadequate.  The standards are set out in regulations made under Section 18 of the Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions Act) 1992.)

11.What is a housing authority and what do they do?

The housing authority is the local authority (i.e. your County or City Council) in the area in which you live. If you have a long term social housing need and don't already have a housing need assessment, you should apply to the local authority to carry out an assessment of your housing need. A successful housing needs assessment may allow you to apply for HAP and other social housing solutions on offer by your local authority.
Contact information for all local authorities can be found on the Department of Housing Planning & Local Government website. https://www.housing.gov.ie/   

12.How do I apply for Rent Supplement?

To apply for Rent Supplement you should contact the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection's Community Welfare Service at your local Intreo Centre or Social Welfare Branch Office. 
 
In some areas new Rent Supplement applications are processed by centralised Rent Units. To see if your area is dealt with by a central Rent Unit you can check here. If you live in one of these areas you can request a rent pack, from your local office.
This pack contains detailed information (including a list of documentation you will need) and all the relevant application forms. You should read the information in the pack carefully. If you are satisfied that you have all the necessary documents ready you can forward your application to the relevant Rent Unit. The processing of your application may be delayed if you do not supply all the information requested in the pack. The Unit will contact you if they need any further information.

13.What documents do I need when applying?

You must usually produce evidence of the following:

  • Identification e.g. birth certificate, passport, drivers licence or, Irish Residence Permits (IRP), etc.
  • If you have the appropriate PSC (Public Service Card) Safe level 2, this will satisfy the ID requirements for you, your partner and your dependents(if applicable)
  • Income, i.e., savings, investments and property.
  • Lease/tenancy agreement/rent book.
  • Documents to prove where you live, such as electricity, gas or phone bills, etc.

 

Other information and documents may be needed and the officer dealing with your claim will tell you what else is needed to process your application.

14.What happens if I am asked to attend a meeting with the person processing my claim?

The officer dealing with your claim may wish to meet with you. The purpose of the meeting is to allow the officer to gather and evaluate the information you provide. The officer may use the meeting to:

  • Allow you to make your case, explain your situation and complete a formal application.
  • Assess your requirements.
  • Clarify any issues.
  • Advise you of any relevant services and agencies.
  • Advise you of your current entitlement.
  • Advise you of your payment arrangements.
  • Advise you of your right of appeal and the appeal process.
  • Advise you of your obligation to notify the officer when your circumstances change.

15.Why is my Rent Supplement support so low when compared to the rent that I have to pay or compared to other persons with similar tenancies?

All recipients of Rent Supplement must make a minimum contribution towards their rent. The standard minimum contribution is currently €30 for single people (with or without children) and €40 for couples (with or without children).
You may have to pay more than this if your income is greater than the appropriate Supplementary Welfare Allowance rate for your family size – that is, money in excess of your social welfare allowance rate will be means assessed as part of your rent supplement claim. Other non-dependent adult household members with their own income are also liable to contribute towards the rent.
 
People aged 18-24 who are on age-related benefits, and living independently, pay a lower minimum contribution towards their rent. The contribution is €10 (per week) for 18 – 24 year old Rent Supplement recipients who are receiving an age related social welfare payments  and €20 for those who are 25 year old age rent supplement recipients on related social welfare recipients on rent supplement. Couples similarly on age related payment also pay less than the €40 normally expected.
 
The primary purpose of rent supplement is to ensure a person’s housing needs are met, and that they pay the appropriate contribution towards their rent and it is tailored to each recipients specific set of circumstances. Other rent supplement customers you may know will have different individual requirements; different incomes; different housing needs; and importantly, different amounts of rent agreed with their landlords.

16.Why do I have to pay so much myself along with the Rent Supplement?

On top of the €30 / €40 (see question 15) minimum contribution expected to be paid by those being supported by rent supplement; you have to pay a larger contribution if your income is greater than the appropriate Supplementary Welfare Allowance rate for your family circumstances.
 
It is also possible that other members of your household also have incomes which will in turn increase the contribution expected towards the rent. If you are unclear as to the different elements of your rental contribution and how it is made up you can contact the officer dealing with your case to discuss.

17. When and how often is Rent Supplement paid?

Rent Supplement is generally paid to you weekly or monthly by EIT (Post Office), Electronic Fund Transfer (Bank), usually in arrears.

18.What does my landlord have to do so that I can get Rent Supplement?

Under the Rent Supplement scheme there is no direct relationship between the Department and your landlord.
 
You (as the tenant) must make the application for Rent Supplement and the Department will process your application. Your landlord must complete a part of the application form which will include the provision of his/her PPS Number (or other Tax Reference Number).
 
Your landlord may opt to provide his details separately to the Department by completing the SWA3C form. 

19.Can the Rent Supplement be paid to Landlord directly?

Payment of your Rent Supplement can be made to the landlord if you request it and if the officer dealing with your claims agrees to it.
 
Where your Rent Supplement is paid direct to your landlord, you will still have to pay your landlord your own personal contribution towards your housing costs (i.e., €30 / €40 standard minimum weekly contribution or a higher amount set out by your rent supplement means assessment). 

20.Can my Rent Supplement be stopped without notification?

You will normally be notified if your Rent Supplement is to stop. However if the officer is aware that your circumstances have changed and you have not contacted the Department, they may suspend your Rent Supplement payment immediately.
 
If your circumstances change, i.e. take up employment, attend full-time education, you should contact the officer dealing with your claim as soon as you can. You should not wait until your next review as this may lead to an overpayment of Rent Supplement which you will have to repay. 

21.What happens if I am not satisfied with a decision to stop or refuse Rent Supplement?

If you are not satisfied with a decision made in relation to your Rent Supplement, you should first find out why the decision was made by asking the office dealing with your claim. You should provide any extra documentation to back up your case. 
If you are not satisfied with a decision made in relation to Rent Supplement, you can appeal the decision to the Social Welfare Appeals Office. You must appeal within 21 working days of getting the decision.

22.What is the Residential Tenancies Board (RTB)?

The RTB was set up to act as an independent body to help regulate the Irish rental sector. The RTB’s primary role is to assist in resolving disputes between landlords and tenants, as a tenant you can use their dispute processes to deal with any problems that you may have with your landlord.
 
They also provide a national tenancy registration system which keeps a ‘live register’ of all tenancies in the State (you can see the average rents being charged in your area on their website). They also publish and carry out research in the Irish rental market.
Further information on the RTB can be found here.

23.Will my Rent Supplement be stopped if I refuse social housing?

If you refuse two offers of social housing from a Local Authority within a 12 month period, your Rent Supplement will be stopped and you will not be allowed to claim Rent Supplement for 12 months. The Housing Assistant Payment Scheme is a form of social housing, refusal of HAP accommodation is also included in this provision.  
However, in the case of HAP, whereby the local authority notifies the officer dealing with your case that HAP is the appropriate form of housing support; and the household has done or failed to do anything of consequence in transferring to HAP their rent supplement can be stopped.
 
If your landlord refuses to transfer to HAP your rent supplement will not be stopped.

24.Will my Rent Supplement be stopped if I refuse work to cooperate with local authority with HAP?

If you are requested by the officer dealing with your case to make an application for a housing needs assessment, with a view of transferring to HAP (you’ve in receipt of supplement for at least eighteen months), and you fail to do so within six weeks (this period may be extended by another six weeks, twelve weeks in total), then your rent supplement can be stopped.
 
If your local authority notifies the officer dealing with your case that you have failed to cooperate with your HAP application process, your rent supplement can be stopped.

25.Can an officer ask me to make a Housing Needs Assessment application before I’ve been on rent supplement for eighteen months?

Yes, an officer, if in their view your circumstances require, can request you to apply for a Housing Needs Assessment with your relevant local authority at any time while you are in receipt of a rent supplement.
 
This is generally made to ensure that your relevant local authority is aware of your tenancy in their locality and that you potentially require long term social housing support.
 
If you refuse to make an application, an officer can stop your payment.
It is not necessary for the local authority to determine that you have a long term housing need for your rent supplement payment to continue, the only requirement is that you have made an application.

 

26.What happens if the local authority has determined that HAP is the appropriate form of social housing support for me?

If your local authority notifies the officer dealing with your case that HAP is the appropriate form of housing support; and the household has done or failed to do anything of consequence in transferring to HAP your rent supplement can be stopped.

27.What happens when the officer dealing with your case reviews your rent supplement claim?

Your claim for Rent Supplement is reviewed regularly, usually every six months. You will have to complete a Rent Supplement Review Form and return it to the officer dealing with your claim. The officer will examine the form to ensure you are receiving the correct amount of Rent Supplement. You should return the form as soon as possible to the officer to ensure there is no delay to your payment.

If your circumstances change between reviews you should contact the officer dealing with your claim immediately. You should not wait until your review as this may lead to an overpayment of Rent Supplement which you will have to repay. 

28.Will the Department need to inspect my accommodation before I can get Rent Supplement?

Officers may view your accommodation before deciding on your application for Rent Supplement in order to confirm the tenancy and type of accommodation.
However, a home visit is not always required as the officer may already be familiar with the accommodation. It is up to the officer to decide whether they visit your accommodation.  
 
If the officer has concerns as to whether your property meets the relevant minimum standards of accommodation s/he may liaise with your local authority to determine whether your accommodation meets those standards. If your home does not meet the minimum standards of accommodation and the local authority notifies the officer dealing with your case your rent supplement support may be stopped/refused.

29What happens if my landlord refuses to provide me his/her Tax Reference Number/PPS Number?

Your landlord must provide his tax reference number or PPS Number to the Department before Rent Supplement will be awarded to you.
 
If your landlord does not want to provide their tax reference number or PPS Number on the application form s/he can complete a separate SWA3C form and return the form directly to the officer dealing with your claim.

30.What happens to my payment if I go on holidays overseas or leave the country?

Rent Supplement is not normally payable while you are outside the country. You should contact the officer dealing with your claim if you intend to leave the country, even for a short absence. Payment may be made in certain circumstances for short absences from the country, e.g. a planned holiday, if the officer dealing with your claim agrees to it.

31.Do I pay tax, Universal Social Charge, PRSI on my Rent supplement payment?

Your Rent Supplement payment is fully exempt from income tax, PRSI and USC.

Last modified:29/07/2019
 

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