The Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) scheme plays a vital role in housing eligible families and individuals. At the end of Q3 2021, 97,600 HAP tenancies had been set-up since the scheme commenced, of which there were more than 62,300 households actively in receipt of HAP support and over 33,400 separate landlords and agents providing accommodation to households supported by the scheme.
Increased rent limits for the Housing Assistance Programme (HAP) and the Rent Supplement Scheme were introduced in 2016. These limits were agreed in conjunction with the Department of Social Protection (DSP). In reviewing the rent limits, my Department worked closely with DSP and monitored data gathered from the Residential Tenancies Board and the HAP Shared Services Centre. The HAP rent limits were increased significantly, in the order of 60% in some cases.
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. It should be noted that it is a matter for the local authority to determine whether the application of the flexibility is warranted on a case by case basis and also the level of additional discretion applied in each case.
I am conscious that increasing the current HAP rent limits 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.
The Programme for Government commits to ensuring that HAP levels are adequate to support vulnerable households, while we increase the supply of social housing. Under Housing for All, my Department was tasked with undertaking an analytical exercise to examine whether an increase in the level of discretion available to Local Authorities under HAP is required, in order to maintain adequate levels of HAP support. This review is at an advanced stage.