At the end of Q1 2019, there were more than 45,900 active tenancies being supported under the Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) Scheme.
While 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, 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.
HAP is a form of social housing support under which local authorities make monthly payments on behalf of tenants directly to landlords in respect of rent, subject to the terms and conditions of the scheme. Limerick City and County Council provide a highly effective transactional shared service on behalf of all HAP local authorities. The HAP Shared Service Centre (SSC) manages the collection of all HAP tenants’ differential rents, on behalf of the relevant local authority, and the payment of all HAP rents to landlords on behalf of tenants supported by the HAP scheme.
HAP tenants source their own accommodation in the private rented market and are advised that this accommodation should be within the HAP rent limits provided to them by the local authority. The rent limits are related to specific household types and to the rental market in the area. HAP is a form of social housing support that allows tenants to work full-time and retain their housing support so in many cases, people may make choices about affordability taking this into consideration.
There is no legislative provision precluding HAP supported households contributing towards the monthly rent to their landlord. However, local authorities have a responsibility to ensure that tenancies are sustainable and are advised not to provide HAP support to tenancies where they are not satisfied that the household would be in a position to meet the rental costs being sought.