The HAP rent limits were increased significantly in July 2016, including by up to 60% in some areas. The Government also provided flexibility to each local authority to agree to a HAP payment up to 20% above the maximum rent limit, where it is necessary, because of local rental market conditions.
Additional discretion of up to 50% above rent limits is available to assist in housing homeless households in the Dublin Region. The additional discretion available to homeless households recognises the difficulty this cohort of households face in sourcing and securing properties in a highly competitive rental market.
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. In those cases, the average rate of discretionary payment being used was 15.2% above rent limits provided. Data for Q1 2018 will shortly be available.
The available data indicates that there is no need to increase the rent limits at this time - indeed any such increase could have negative inflationary impacts. I am satisfied that, in general, the HAP scheme continues to operate well in a challenging rental market, but I will continue to keep the matter under review.