Rent Supplement and Housing Assistance Payment (HAP)
Rent Supplement is paid by the Department of Social Protection to people living in private rented accommodation who cannot provide for the cost of their accommodation from their own resources. In general, you will qualify for a rent supplement, if your only income is a social welfare or Health Services Executive (HSE) payment.
There are certain conditions that you will need to meet to be considered for a Rent Supplement payment including:
- being registered on a Council Housing List and/or
- that you have been living in private rental accommodation for the previous six months and are no longer able to manage the rent payment.
The Department of Social Protection has set maximum rents that are allowable under the Rent Supplement Scheme. However at the discretion of the Department these rents limits or caps can be increased when special circumstances exist.
In 10 easy steps you can successfully Find a Property and apply for the Department of Social Protection Rent Supplement
Steps 1-5 will take you through the stages of securing appropriate accommodation.
If you are 18 years or older and have decided to make the move to private rented accommodation and would like to apply for Rent Supplement to the Department of Social Protection, follow the outlined steps to complete the application process.
You are responsible for finding your own property. The best way to look for a rental property is through local estate agents, property web pages (See Daft.ie & MyHome.ie) and by monitoring local notice boards/newspapers which will list available properties in the area where you want to live.
Decide where you want to liveDecide on the neighbourhood's in which you would like to live, consider ease of access to family, transport, shopping, education/work, community facilities etc. Check which is the local City or County Council for this area.
Register on the local Social Housing ListMake sure that you are registered on the Local Council Social Housing List of the area in which you want to live.
Access ChecklistWrite out an access checklist which applies to your personal access needs and requirements. If you are a wheelchair user, your access checklist should include such questions as; is there level access into the dwelling? Is there a lift if the dwelling is above ground floor? What size is the bathroom? Is the bathroom a wet room? What width is the hallway and doors? Is the living/kitchen area open plan? etc. Click here for a basic IWA access checklist.
Finding a suitable propertyBegin looking for a suitable property to rent using websites, property web-pages and by contacting local estate agents to discuss available accommodation in the area you have chosen to live, and which potentially meet your personal housing requirements.
Arrange a viewingArrange an appointment to view the properties that seem most suitable to your requirements. When you find a property that you are satisfied with, and you have agreed appropriate terms and conditions with the landlord, you then must inform the landlord, that you will now be applying for the Department of Social Protection Rent Supplement. Ensure the landlord is willing to accept the rent supplement payment and proceed with the leasing contract only when your application for Rent Supplement has been approved.
Steps 6-10 Making a Rent Supplement Application:
Contact your local representative in the Department of Social Protection
To apply for Rent Supplement you should contact the Department of Social Protection's representative (formerly know as the Community Welcare officer) for an application form and for information on what to do, at your local Health Centre.
Phone the Health Centre to check what times the Rent Supplement clinic is held. Applications forms can also be downloaded from the Department's website.
However in some areas new Rent Supplement applications are processed by a centralised Rents Unit. To see if your area is dealt with a central Rent Unit you can view the Central Rent Unit list here. If you live in one of these areas you must get a rent pack from your local Health Centre. This pack contains detailed information (including a list of the documentation you will need) and all the relevant application forms. You should read the information pack carefully.
If you are satisfied that you have all the necessary documents ready, including forms completed by the landlord and supporting letters (see Step 7), you then forward your application to the relevant Rent Unit address given in the pack. 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. If they do not need any more information they will tell you when your application will be processed.
Consider the need to bring Supporting LettersIf the property that you wish to rent is above the Department of Social Protection's set local rent limit because of access or PA requirements it is recommended to give supporting letters from your GP and supporting disability organisation to explain and confirm the need for this particular dwelling. Enquiries about set local rent limits can be made to the Department of Social Protection’s representative or on the Department of Social Protection or Citizens Information Board websites.
Rent Supplement Application processVisit the Department of Social Protection’s representative in the local Health Centre on the appropriate day and time. It is advisable to bring proof of your income and identity with you and the registered number given to you by the Council of your Social Housing Application. Also, bring supporting letters from your GP and supporting disability organisation. The Community Welfare Officer will complete the necessary documents and discuss these with you. They will then give you a form that your new landlord should complete. The Department of Social Protection’s Representative may visit the property also. Alternatively if your area is dealt with by one of the centralised rents units, collect the rent pack from the local health centre and return all the requested information, including supporting letters, to the given address.
Rent Supplement FormThe landlord must complete the necessary section of the Rent Supplement Application Form and you must return this to the Department of Social Proctection Community Welfare Officer. This is the final stage of the application process; you will be notified very quickly either by phone or in person of the outcome of your application.
AssistanceIf you need assistance with any of the above STEPS consider asking family or friends or ask a staff person in your local IWA centre. Click here to find your nearest IWA Centre »
For more complete information on Rent Supplement see: The Citizens Information Board at http://www.citizensinformation.ie/en/social_welfare/social_welfare_payments/supplementary_welfare_schemes/rent_supplement.html and The Department of Social Protection at http://www.welfare.ie/EN/OperationalGuidelines/pages/swa_rent.aspx.
Housing Assistance Payment (HAP)
The Housing Assistance Payment (HAP); a new Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) is being introduced by the Department of the Environment for people who have a long-term housing need and who qualify for social housing support. HAP is being administered by the Housing Departments in local Councils and will eventually replace the long-term Rent Supplement Allowance. The Rent Supplement Allowance will continue to be available under certain conditions as a short term financial support for private rental properties.
During 2015 HAP was piloted in certain local Council areas; see Citizens Information website and Dept. of Social Protection website for a list of HAP pilot areas and for up to date information on the HAP. If you are living in a HAP area (see above link) application forms and information on the HAP application process are available from the local Council Housing Department. The steps involved in making a HAP application are similar to those listed below for a Rent Supplement application but instead of dealing with the Community Welfare Officer in the Department of Social Protection as with Rent Supplement, you will be dealing with the Housing Department in the local Council. Rent under the HAP is paid by the tenant to the local Council and the Council pays the landlord directly. The amount of rent that a tenant has to pay under HAP is based on a person’s income and rent can vary in accordance with changes to a person’s income e.g. if a person starts working or works extra hours then rent will increase.
As with Rent Supplement a person must be registered on the Social Housing List in order to make a HAP application; for information on how to make a Social Housing List application see “Help Me Get Started” on the www.iwa.ie/house home page.
As with Rent Supplement there can be a measure of flexibility exercised within the HAP when a person who has a disability/medical condition requires accommodation that is above the set rent limit due to their disability/medical condition e.g. a second bedroom is required as a PA or carer is staying overnight or a larger and therefore more expensive unit is required to provide the necessary accessibility; documentation from your GP and/or service provider would be helpful to support your need for a more expensive property.