The purpose of rent supplement is to provide short-term support to eligible people living in private rented accommodation, whose means are insufficient to meet their accommodation costs and who do not have accommodation available to them from any other source. The overall aim is to provide short term assistance, and not to act as an alternative to the other social housing schemes operated by the Exchequer. There are currently over 92,000 persons in receipt of rent supplement for which the Government has provided €436m in 2012.
New maximum rent limits came into force on 1 January 2012 and are in place until June 2013. These new limits were set after an analysis of the most up to date market data available. The emphasis of the rent limit review was to ensure that maximum value for money for tenants and the taxpayer was achieved whilst at the same time ensuring that people on rent supplement are not priced out of the market for private rented accommodation.
All new rent supplement applications are subject to these limits and as existing claims come up for review, or when an existing lease expires, they will be reassessed using the new limits. Where a claim is under review and the rent is above the new maximum limit the customer is being asked to contact the landlord to renegotiate the rent. Where a landlord does not agree to reduce the rent to the new rates Departmental officials will discuss the options open to the tenant up to and including seeking alternative accommodation.
Department officials dealing with rent supplement tenants will continue to ensure that their accommodation needs are met and there will no incidence of homelessness due to these measures. Legislation regarding the protection of tenants in private rented accommodation is a matter for my colleague, the Minister for Environment, Community and Local Government.