Rent supplements are subject to a limit on the amount of rent that an applicant for rent supplement may incur. Rent supplement is not normally paid where the rent is in excess of the limits. Notwithstanding these limits, under existing arrangements the Health Service Executive may, in certain circumstances, exceed the rent levels as an exceptional measure, for example:
where there are special housing needs related to exceptional circumstances for example, disabled persons in specially-adapted accommodation or homeless persons,
where the tenant will be in a position to re-assume responsibility for his/her rent within a short period
where the person concerned is entitled to an income disregard and has sufficient income to meet his or her basic needs after paying rent, taking into account the appropriate rate of rent supplement that is otherwise payable in the case.This discretionary power ensures that individuals with particular needs can be accommodated within the scheme and specifically protects against homelessness.
My Department has received no specific evidence of rent supplement recipients having to supplement their rent above the amount stated for the purpose of receiving rent supplements.
In January 2007 a review of the maximum levels of rent which a person may incur and still be eligible to receive a rent supplement was completed. The purpose of the review was to inform the process of setting new limits, applicable from January 2007 until 30th June 2008. I am satisfied that the new limits reflected realistic market conditions throughout the country. Setting maximum rent limits higher than are justified by the open market would have a distorting effect on the rental market, leading to a more general rise in rent levels. This in turn would worsen the affordability of rental accommodation unnecessarily, with particular negative impact for those tenants on lower incomes enable the different categories of eligible tenant households to secure and retain basic suitable rented accommodation to meet their respective needs.
The limits will be reviewed next year. Any revision found to be necessary will be implemented with effect from 1st July 2008.