The Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) is a form of social housing support for people who have a long-term housing need. It is available in all local authority areas and its introduction ensures that all social housing supports can be accessed through the local authorities, allowing tenants to take up full-time employment and keep their housing support, subject to adjustment of their differential rent.
If a household has been deemed eligible for social housing support, it is a matter for the local authority to examine the suite of social housing supports available, including the HAP scheme, to determine the most appropriate form of social housing support for that household in the administrative area of that local authority. Accordingly, the determination of entitlement to HAP, including the assessment of an applicant's means, is governed by the same arrangements as for other social housing supports.
The qualification criteria for social housing support are set down in section 20 of the Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2009 and in the Social Housing Assessment Regulations 2011, as amended, and are applied by all housing authorities in assessing individual households for support.
The Social Housing Assessment Regulations 2011 prescribe maximum net income limits for eligibility for social housing supports in each housing authority, in different bands according to the area, with income being defined and assessed according to a standard Household Means Policy. There are currently three bands - with maximum income limits per individual (main applicant) set at €35,000, €30,000 and €25,000 (the limits are higher for households with multiple adults and with children).
Under the Household Means Policy, which applies in all local authorities, net income for social housing assessment is defined as gross household income less income tax, and the universal social charge. The Policy provides for a range of income disregards, and local authorities also have discretion to decide to disregard income that is temporary, short-term or once off in nature.