Wicklow County Council can now offer the Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) as an additional social housing support. Initially all newly qualified housing applicants will be supplied with a pack, illustrating the scheme. In effect, the following will happen:
- The approved housing applicant will source their own unit of accommodation subject to available rent limits
- The housing authority will satisfy itself on the standard of the unit within a timeframe
- The housing authority will arrange for the landlord to be paid a monthly rent for the unit
- The tenant will pay a differential rent, which is calculated and paid to the housing authority
- The housing applicant will be deemed to have their need satisfied
HAP has been introduced so local authorities can provide assistance for households who qualify for social housing support, including long-term rent supplement recipients. Under the HAP scheme, payments will be made to landlords on behalf of the HAP recipient, subject to rent limits. The HAP recipient will then pay a rental charge to the local authority. This rent payment will be calculated by the local authority.
Who is eligible for HAP?
- Any household that qualifies for social housing support will be eligible to apply for HAP
- Current rent supplement recipients who qualify for social housing support will be transferred from rent supplement to HAP on a phased basis
How will HAP work?
- In order to qualify for HAP, a household must be qualified for social housing support by their local authority, which means the household must qualify to go on the local authority housing waiting list
- HAP recipients, like rent supplement recipients, are responsible for finding their own accommodation in the private rented market
- The landlord must agree to rent their property to a HAP recipient
- The local authority will then pay the rent in full directly to the landlord, on the last Wednesday of each month, subject to terms and conditions including rent limits
What are the benefits of HAP?
For HAP recipients:
- HAP allows recipients to take up full-time employment, while still receiving housing support
- The rent contribution payable by the HAP recipient will be based on the differential rent scheme for their local authority. This scheme links the rent contribution a household must pay to the household income and the ability to pay
- HAP will help to regulate the private rental sector and improve standards of accommodation. Properties will be inspected to make sure that they meet the required standards
- HAP recipients will be able to avail of other social housing supports and options, if they so choose
- The landlord or his agent will receive prompt payments directly from the local authority on a monthly basis, subject to the HAP recipient paying the local authority their rent contribution. All payments will be made electronically; there will be no need for rent collection from tenants who are HAP recipients, leading to administrative savings for landlords
- Landlords who rent to tenants in receipt of social housing supports like the housing assistance payment (HAP) may avail of increased tax relief under a new scheme from 1 January 2016. The new scheme will allow property owners to claim 100 per cent relief on their mortgage interest, as an expense against rental income. To qualify, the landlord must undertake to make the accommodation available to qualifying tenants for a minimum of three years, and the undertaking must be registered with the Residential Tenancies Board. Further information is also available from the Revenue Commissioners.
Who will continue to receive Rent Supplement?
Rent Supplement will continue to be paid to tenants who have already been in private rented accommodation for at least six of the previous 12 months before applying.
Will HAP clients be able to access other housing supports?
Yes. HAP recipients have access to other social housing supports offered by local authorities, such as local authority housing or housing provided by approved housing bodies.