The Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) scheme provides fast, flexible housing support to all eligible households who have the freedom to source suitable accommodation in their area of choice. Individuals, who in the past may have been reluctant to avail of full time work as they might lose their Rent Supplement support, can now move to HAP, avail of full-time employment and still retain their housing support, with an appropriate adjustment being made to their differential rent.
At the end of Q1 2019, there were more than 45,900 households having their housing needs met through the HAP scheme, with over 27,000 landlords and agents in receipt of monthly HAP payments. The Residential Tenancies Acts 2004 - 2019 regulate the landlord-tenant relationship in the private rented sector and set out the rights and obligations of landlords and tenants. HAP supported tenancies are afforded the same protections available to all private rented tenancies.
Each local authority has statutory discretion to agree to a HAP payment up to 20% above the prescribed maximum rent limit to secure appropriate accommodation for a household that requires it. While there is no legislative provision precluding HAP supported households contributing towards their monthly landlord rent, local authorities have a responsibility to ensure that tenancies are sustainable and are advised not to provide HAP support to tenancies where the household would not be in a position to meet the rental costs involved.
The Homeless HAP Place Finder Service provides all local authorities with the option to pay deposits and advance rental payments for any households in emergency homeless accommodation, in order to secure accommodation through the HAP Scheme. In addition, the normal 20% discretion beyond the rent limits is increased to 50% for homeless households in the Dublin Region.
I am satisfied with the operation of the HAP scheme, which continues to play an important part in meeting social housing needs. I will, however, keep its operation, and the operation of social housing delivery streams more generally, under ongoing review.