Housing Types

Different types of housing tenures explained – social and private housing

There are a variety of different types of housing tenures (types), both social and private available to meet your specific needs and requirements. There are several different choices available within both social and private housing.

Social Housing

Introduction to Social Housing

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Social Housing is an umbrella term for rental accommodation funded by the Government and provided by a City or County Council and by approved housing bodies, often known as Voluntary Housing Associations or Housing Co Operatives. Social Housing accommodation is provided to people who are assessed as being unable to provide for the cost of their housing need from their own resources.

City and County Councils are the main providers of social rented housing. Responsibility for high level strategic planning of social housing is under the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government. City and County Councils strategically plan and manage social housing at local level based on the housing need/s of those registered on their Social Housing List.

Under the “National Housing Strategy for people with a disability 2011 – 2016 each Council is required by the Department of the Environment to have written its own individual Strategic Plan for Housing People with a Disability. This Council Strategic Plan should be based on the housing need of people with a disability who are registered on the Council’s Social Housing List and on the emerging housing need of people with a disability.

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Applying for Social Housing

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Applying to your local City or County Council for social housing is an important step in finding the most suitable home for you. When your name is registered on the Social Housing List you can be eligible to be considered for Rent Supplement or Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) for private rental accommodation. See link to web page on making an application for Social Housing or Housing Assistance Payment.

From time to time additional house purchase schemes are introduced by the Department of the Environment through local Councils; keep an eye on local media and on the Housing Department section of your local Council web site for such information.

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Approved Housing Bodies or Voluntary Housing Associations

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Approved Housing Bodies or Voluntary Housing Associations also provide social housing. They are non-profit organisations formed for the purpose of relieving housing need in the area in which they are based by providing and managing rental social housing.

Approved housing bodies include both housing co-operatives and voluntary housing associations. These housing co operatives and housing associations are established by a voluntary management board and are approved and subsequently funded to develop housing projects by the Department of the Environment Heritage and Local Government. The Irish Wheelchair Association is an approved Voluntary Housing Association and has a number of housing projects countrywide.

Projects undertaken by Voluntary Housing Associations may be in response to the housing needs of the elderly, people with disabilities, homeless persons or families and single people on low incomes. Some housing associations may be formed to specialise in meeting a particular housing need, others develop with broader aims. For more information and names of Voluntary Housing Associations see the Irish Council for Social Housing at www.icsh.ie The Irish Council for Social Housing is an umbrella organisation for Voluntary Housing Associations.

Referrals to Voluntary Housing Associations for housing are made by the local City or County Council from their Housing Lists.

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Housing Cooperatives

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Housing Co operatives can provide both social rented housing and housing to purchase. Housing co-operatives are self-help and jointly-owned member/user housing associations or societies. They build or acquire and manage houses or apartments, with various forms of tenure, in response to community housing needs.The members of the co-operative share the responsibility for their co-operative housing enterprises and are represented on a management committees or boards of directors.

The National Association of Building Co-operatives (NABCO) is the umbrella organisation for housing co-operatives in Ireland. See www.nabco.ie or phone NABCO or your local Council for more detailed information on housing co-operatives operating in your area

Referrals to Housing Co- operatives for housing are made by the local City or County Council from their Housing Lists.

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Private Housing

Private Housing is housing that is owned by an individual or a privately owned company. The property may be occupied by the owner or rented to a tenant.

Private Financing: A person may apply to a private mortgage company or bank for a loan to purchase the property. If a loan is made available to the person from a mortgage company or bank usually depends on the person’s income and their ability to repay the loan. The monthly repayments will generally be based on the amount borrowed, the amount of interest to be paid and over what time period e.g. 20 years, 25 years, 30 years. It is unlikey that you will approved for a home purchase home if your only income is a Social Welfare Payment. Please see Social Housing options above.

Government Supports & Schemes to assist private ownership


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If you are not in a position to purchase your own home or rent good quality accommodation from your own resources on the open market, there may be some Government Schemes available to help people access appropriate and affordable housing.

These various schemes are generally administered by City and County Councils and by the Department of Social Protection can change from time to time so it is advised to check with the local Council or Department of Social Protection as to their current operation and application criteria of these schemes. Not all Councils will operate all schemes.

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Local Council House Purchase and Tenant Purchase Loans

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Individuals and families on low incomes may qualify for a house or tenant purchase loan from the local City or County Council.

Usually for a house purchase loan the applicant will have to have been refused a mortgage by two private mortgage companies or banks in order to make application.

To be eligible for a tenant purchase loan a person must be a tenant of the Council and they and the property in which they are living must meet the qualifying criteria for a Tenant Purchase Scheme. Usually Councils will not sell apartments and accommodation for older persons.

If you are a Council tenant and want to consider purchasing your home enquire further from the Loans and Grants Department in your local Council.

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Incremental Purchase Schemes

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The objective of the Incremental Purchase Scheme is to provide an affordable route to homeownership for households that are renting social housing or those awaiting the allocation of social housing. The scheme offers social housing applicants the earliest possible start on the path to home ownership for those willing and able to undertake a house purchase. It also provides a vehicle for effective saving for low-income applicants and allows the household to avail of the opportunity to improve their housing circumstances over time.

The scheme is available only for new build properties identified for sale by the local authority or approved housing body. Conditions of this scheme appear to be similar in some ways to the old Shared Ownership Scheme. The scheme however differs from shared ownership in that the purchase price is based on the all-in-cost of providing the house with a discount of between 40% and 60% depending on the buyer’s income and the amount of equity the buyer takes in the property.

Enquire further from your local Council.

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Financial Supports to rent privately

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Rent Supplement which is administered by the Department of Social Protection is paid to people living in private rented accommodation who cannot provide or continue to provide for the cost of their private rented 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 and you satisfy the other conditions.

- IWA information on what supports you are entitled to »
- Rent Supplement information on Citizens Information website »
- Welfare guidelines on Welfare.ie website »

Housing Assistance Payment (HAP). In some pilot Council areas HAP is a new financial support (that will eventually largely replace Rent Supplement) towards the cost of private or voluntary housing rental accommodation. A HAP application is made through the local Council Housing Department. For more information see --- then create link to the IWA Rent Supplement and Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) page and also to Citizens Information web site: http://www.citizensinformation.ie/en/housing/renting_a_home/housing_assistance_payment.html

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RAS or Rental Accommodation Scheme

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RAS or Rental Accommodation Scheme is an initiative by the Government to cater for the accommodation needs of certain persons who are in receipt of rent supplement for more than 18 months and who are assessed as having a long-term housing need. RAS is a collaborative project between the Department of the Environment, local Councils, the Department of Social Protection and the Health Service Executive Community Welfare Service. The RAS Scheme is operated by local Councils. Some local authorities operate a RAS type scheme but under a different name, please make enquiries with your local Council.

One of the main features of the RAS Scheme is that local Councils in sourcing accommodation for these households make use of the private and voluntary sector and enter into contractual arrangements to secure medium to long-term availability of rented accommodation. If you would like to know more about RAS contact your local Council and ask for the RAS Department.

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