Consistent with the provisions in the Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2014, the Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) scheme is considered to be a social housing support and consequently households in receipt of a payment under the scheme are not eligible to remain on the main housing waiting list. However, acknowledging that some households on the waiting list, who avail of HAP, have expectations that they would receive a more traditional form of social housing support, Ministerial directions have issued to ensure that, should they so choose, HAP recipients can avail of a move to other forms of social housing support through a transfer list.
Furthermore, local authorities were also directed that HAP recipients who apply to go on the transfer list should get full credit for the time they spent on the waiting list and be placed on the transfer list with no less favourable terms than if they had remained on the waiting list.
In relation to the Rental Accommodation Scheme (RAS), the Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2009 gives legislative recognition to rental accommodation availability agreements, which underpin RAS, as a form of social housing support. Consequently, since 1 April 2011, RAS tenants are now considered to be in receipt of social housing support and should not generally remain on main housing waiting lists for new applicants for social housing.
Recognising that tenants housed through RAS prior to this change might have had reasonable expectations in regard to retaining access to traditional local authority rented accommodation, guidance issued from the Housing Agency in 2011 recommended that there should be a special transfer pathway for pre-2011 RAS tenants to other forms of social housing support. The arrangement effectively allowed these households to be designated as a ‘transfer’ applicant and to maintain their position for allocation as they had on the main waiting list.
All tenants allocated RAS accommodation post 1st April 2011 (and thus under the provisions of the Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2009) were informed at the time of offer and allocation that because RAS is now a social housing support, their housing need is met and that they will no longer remain on the main social housing waiting list.
However, it is recommended that allocation schemes also provide a ‘transfer pathway’ for new RAS tenants, whereby households in RAS have access to the transfer list in the same way as tenants in local authority accommodation.
The practical operation of transfer lists is a matter for each local authority to manage, on the basis of their own scheme of letting priorities. The making of such schemes is a reserved function of the local authority and as such is a matter for the elected members.
HAP and RAS continue to be key vehicles in meeting housing need and fulfilling the ambitious programme outlined under the Rebuilding Ireland Action Plan for Housing and Homelessness.