The increased rent limits introduced by the Government in 2016, together with the additional discretion available to local authorities to exceed the maximum rent limit by up to 20%, are allowing HAP households to find suitable accommodation. On average in 2017, 350 additional tenancies were supported by HAP each week, with over 33,000 households currently having their housing needs met under the scheme.
From available data, at the end of Q4 2017, 22.4% of the total number of households being supported by HAP were benefiting from the additional flexibility. When the additional discretion available to homeless households in the Dublin Region is removed, 16.7% of households nationally were benefiting from the additional flexibility, meaning that less than one in six tenancies required additional support above the defined HAP rent limit. In those cases, the average rate of discretionary payment being used was 15.2% above the relevant limit.
HAP is only just about to complete its first full year of operation on a national basis. Increasing the HAP rent limits in particular local authority areas could have further inflationary effects, leading to a detrimental impact on the wider rental market, including for those households who are not receiving HAP support.
My Department closely monitors the level of discretion being used by local authorities, taking into consideration other sources of data, including Residential Tenancies Board (RTB) rent data published on a quarterly basis. I am satisfied that the maximum rent limits, together with the additional flexibility available to local authorities, are generally sufficient to support the effective operation of the HAP scheme. However, I will continue to keep the matter under review.