Maximum rent limits for the Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) scheme are set for each housing authority area by the Housing Assistance Payment (Amendment) Regulations 2017. The current maximum HAP rent limits are available on the Irish Statute Book website, www.irishstatutebook.ie/eli/2017/si/56/made/en/print?q=housing&years=2017.
The HAP limits were agreed in conjunction with the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection (DEASP). In reviewing rent limits, the Department worked closely with the DEASP and monitored data gathered from the Residential Tenancies Board and the HAP Shared Services Centre. The HAP rent limits were increased significantly in July 2016, in the order of 60% in some areas.
Local authorities also have discretion, because of local rental market conditions, to exceed the maximum rent limit by up to 20%, or up to 50% in the Dublin region for those households either in, or at immediate risk of homelessness. 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. It should be noted that it is a matter for the local authority to determine if the application of the flexibility is warranted on a case by case basis and also the level of additional discretion applied in each case.
HAP rent limits are kept under constant review, as is the use of discretion by local authorities, and data indicate that there is no need to increase the rent limits at this time. I am conscious that any such increase could have negative inflationary impacts, leading to a detrimental impact on the wider rental market, including for those households who are not receiving HAP support.
I am satisfied that the current 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.