Tuesday, 5 November 2019

Questions (39)

Maureen O'Sullivan

Question:

39. Deputy Maureen O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government if his attention has been drawn to the difficulties faced by tenants granted HAP in securing properties that accept the payment; if he will report on efforts to ensure HAP is a realistic option for tenants currently on local authority waiting lists in view of the difficulty in securing tenancies; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45086/19]

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Written answers (Question to Housing)

HAP plays a vital role in housing eligible families and individuals. At the end of Q2 2019, there were more than 48,000 households in receipt of HAP support and over 28,000 separate landlords and agents providing accommodation to households supported by the scheme.

Rebuilding Ireland sets annual national targets for additional HAP-supported tenancies. In 2018, this target was for an additional 17,000 HAP tenancies, which was exceed by more than 900 tenancies. A target was set to support an additional 16,760 households through HAP in 2019; at the end of Q2 2019 an additional 8,667 HAP tenancies were set up.

The HAP Placefinder, an initiative started in Dublin and Cork to provide targeted assistance to homeless households, was rolled out nationally in January 2018. This structure provides local authorities with enhanced resources, both staffing and financial, to directly assist households to secure HAP properties, including as appropriate- working in emergency accommodation to assist families exit to HAP; liaising with agents and property owners; attending viewings; paying deposits and advance rent as needed. Over 8,100 households who were either homeless or at urgent risk of homelessness have been assisted under the service to date.

A landlord or an agent acting on behalf of a landlord is not legally obliged to enter into a tenancy agreement with a HAP recipient. However, on 1 January 2016, the Equality (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2015 introduced “housing assistance” as a new discriminatory ground. This means that discrimination in the provision of accommodation or related service and amenities against people in receipt of rent supplement, HAP or other social welfare payments is prohibited.

If a person feels that they have been discriminated against by a landlord or their agent, they can make a complaint under the Equal Status Acts to the Workplace Relations Commission.