NEW HOUSING ASSISTANCE PAYMENT

The new Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) will benefit those households who require assistance with their housing needs.

  • HAP is a new payment designed to replace rent supplement for people who qualify for social housing support.
  • It will ensure that all long-term housing support is accessed through each local authority, rather than the current fractured system that involves the Department of Social Protection making payments, with people joining waiting lists to access the local authority system;
  • It will ensure that people can take up employment and still retain housing support;
  • It will improve standards of accommodation for tenants, with a more coherent inspection system of inspection under the control of the local authority;
  • It will remove the possibility of tenant arrears for landlords and encourage more landlords to accept housing assistance tenants.
  • If you are on a housing list, you can take up HAP and seek a transfer to a council house, a RAS-type unit, or accommodation from a housing association.
  • In any case, provided suitable accommodation is available, you will be able to move through the system as your needs and circumstances change. So, while you may start out in HAP, you have the opportunity to apply to move to a council house or other accommodation type if you so wish in the future.
  • · You will be able to get the new HAP (housing assistance payment) if you’re in long-term receipt of rent supplement and qualify for social housing support.
  • · One of the reasons for introducing HAP is to improve the circumstances of the some 40,000 households that have been in receipt of long term rent supplement payments so that they can enter into employment, live in accommodation that meets appropriate standards and access other social housing supports, if they so wish, through the transfer list.
  • It should be recognized that not everyone in receipt of rent supplement, or who will be in receipt of HAP, will want a traditional form of social housing support.  However access to those supports will be provided.

Housing authorities will give appropriate weight, in terms of making allocations, to persons on the transfer list providing the proper balance in terms of allocating other forms of social housing support, between the waiting list and the transfer list, such that those on the transfer list would not be disadvantaged.

· Allocation and transfer policies will be reviewed throughout the piloting phase of the HAP scheme this year to ensure that the system can deal properly with exceptional circumstances that arise.

· Under HAP, you find your own accommodation, and provided your council is happy that it is up to standard and within the rent limits, you can get the benefit.

· HAP makes sure that the standards of your accommodation are right, and that your landlord is fully compliant.

· You will pay your contribution to the rent to the council in line with the council rents payable in your area, so you won’t be paying more or less than you can afford or than tenants in the council system.

· If your main income is from social welfare, your rent contribution will be deducted and paid to the council.

· The council will pay the full amount of the rent, up to the maximum limit, direct to the landlord on your behalf.

· Unlike rent supplement, you can take up full-time work and continue to get HAP. Obviously, as your income goes up, your contribution to the rent will go up too.

· If you are getting HAP, you have the opportunity to apply for other forms of social housing support, such as local authority housing. The difference is that you will transfer from HAP.

· Getting HAP means that you are in the social housing system. You can therefore access other forms of housing if you want to, e.g. from the council (including being able to purchase under the incremental purchase scheme) or a housing association, according to the transfer rules in your council.

The Housing Bill also contains reforming provisions on tenant purchase and tackling anti-social behaviour in local authority housing.