Tuesday, 14 February 2012
Department of Social Protection
Social Welfare Benefits
Stephen Donnelly (Wicklow, Independent)
Question 366: To ask the Minister for Social Protection further to Parliamentary Question No. 353 of 31 January 2012 referring to rent supplement recipients who are forced to secure alternative accommodation, the period of time that they will be given to do so; if they will continue to receive their rent allowance at the existing rate while they do so; if she will release the analysis carried out by her Department in rental prices for Bray, and on County Wicklow overall; if she will consider also excluding the towns of Greystones, Kilcoole, Delgany and Newtownmountkennedy, where rent is similar to that in Bray; and if not the reason therefore. [8477/12]
Joan Burton (Minister, Department of Social Protection; Dublin West, Labour)
As existing claims come up for review or when an existing lease expires, they will be reassessed using the new limits. Where a claim is under review and the rent is above the new maximum limit the customer is being asked to contact the landlord to renegotiate the rent. Where a landlord does not agree to reduce the rent to the new rates departmental officials will discuss the options open to the tenant up to and including seeking alternative accommodation. It is accepted that in limited circumstances rent supplement recipients may be forced to secure alternative accommodation.
Departmental guidance to the officers administering rent supplement states that where negotiation with the landlord fails then rent supplement may continue to be paid for a period of up to thirteen weeks at the higher rate. However, once the lease has expired the tenant will be expected to find suitable accommodation at below the new limits in force. Department officials will continue to ensure that rent supplement recipients’ accommodation needs are met. There will be no incidence of homelessness due to these changes. I can confirm to the Deputy that the rent limits review report has now been published and is available from the Department’s website.
The Deputy will note from this report that the Department is committed to carrying out a specific review of the rent limits for Bray. As previously advised, officials in the Department are in the process of completing this review and, if it is found necessary, maximum rent limits specific to Bray will be established. My Department will also consider Greystones, Kilcoole, Delgany and Newtownmountkennedy; however it is important to bear in mind that the purpose of the review is to ensure availability of accommodation for rent supplement tenancies, not to provide rent supplement tenants with access to all housing in all areas.