107 Deputy Joanna Tuffy asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government if he has issued any guidelines to local authorities in respect of local authority tenants who are married, separated and where one of the spouses is in need of separate accommodation; if there is any onus on the council to provide separate accommodation for the spouse concerned; if he has not issued guidance to local authorities on this issue; his plans to do so, to ensure sympathetic treatment of families in this situation by local authorities; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32853/12] View answer
Minister of State at the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government (Deputy Jan O’Sullivan): Paragraph (1) of Regulation 22 of the Social Housing Assessment Regulations, 2011, provides that a household with alternative accommodation that would meet its housing need is ineligible for social housing support. Paragraph (2) of the Regulation effectively ensures that paragraph (1) does not operate to exclude from eligibility for social housing support an applicant who owns accommodation that is occupied by his or her spouse, from whom he or she is separated or divorced.
The Regulation is worded in such a way that once there is a Deed of Separation in place, this aspect of eligibility for social housing support can be determined. There is no need therefore to await judicial separation or divorce to get a decision on social housing support in these cases. I consider that this provision is reasonable in most cases.
I acknowledge, however, that situations may exceptionally arise that may not easily be dealt with under the current Regulations. My Department is keeping the social housing assessment provisions under review and in this context will consider what wider discretion might be given to housing authorities to address the individually difficult and complex cases which may present to them.