Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Questions (134, 140)

Ciaran Lynch


134. Deputy Ciarán Lynch asked the Minister for Social Protection if the refusal of some landlords to accept a rent supplement as payment is legally permissible; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [15504/14]

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Thomas P. Broughan


140. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Social Protection the amount of expenditure incurred by her Department in respect of rent supplement in Dublin 3, 5, 13 and 17 in the years 2010 to 2013, inclusive, and to date in 2014. [15580/14]

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Written answers (Question to Social)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 134 and 140 together.

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 approximately 78,000 rent supplement recipients for which the Government has provided over €344 million for 2014.

Under the legislative provisions governing rent supplement, the Department's relationship is with the tenant. Rent supplement is specifically for the benefit of tenants to assist them with their accommodation needs. The tenant's engagement with the Department usually takes place after the tenant has reached an agreement with the landlord. There is no contractual relationship established between the landlord and the Department.

The Equal Status Acts 2000-2011, prohibit discrimination in the provision of services that are generally available to the public whether provided by the state or the private sector including lettings and accommodation. There are nine grounds prohibiting discrimination namely - gender, civil status, family status, sexual orientation, religious belief, age, race, disability and membership of the Traveller community. Refusal by landlords to accept tenants, including those in receipt of rent supplement, under any of these grounds would be in breach of the equality legislation.

The fact that approximately 78,000 people are currently in receipt of rent supplement proves that a significant number of landlords are accommodating applicants of the scheme and that rent supplement recipients are able to access accommodation.

A breakdown of rent supplement expenditure in Dublin by postal code is not available.