Tuesday, 4 July 2017
Department of Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government
Housing Assistance Payments
634. To ask the Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government the specific allocation of funding that is planned to be accessed in order to fulfil the offered incentive to landlords to sign up to the housing assistance payment scheme in circumstances in which applicants on the Dublin housing lists are able to seek approval and payment of two months rent in advance and a month's deposit to a landlord; the other regions this funding is accessible by; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30930/17]
Exchequer funding for the HAP scheme increased from €57 million in 2016 to €152.7 million for 2017. This increase is in order to meet the continuing costs of existing HAP households, and the costs of supporting an additional 15,000 households to be supported by HAP in 2017. The HAP scheme is funded through a combination of Exchequer monies and tenant differential rents collected in respect of HAP tenancies.
Under the HAP scheme, eligible households source their own accommodation in the private rented sector. The tenancy is between the tenant and the landlord and is governed by the Residential Tenancies Act 2004 (as amended).
While eligible homeless households may source accommodation for themselves, a dedicated placement team, the Place Finder Service, assists homeless households in areas where there is a high demand for properties but low levels of supply making the rental market very challenging, and where the provision of such a service is justified. Currently, a Homeless Placefinder Service is operated in the Dublin region by the Dublin Regional Homeless Executive, and in Cork City Council area.
The Place Finder Service seeks out potential properties suitable for households currently identified as homeless. The service liaises with individual households to establish their specific needs and to ensure that any additional supports which may be needed are put in place, it establishes relationships with local property agents and landlords and it assists the household in securing the tenancy. Additional discretion of up to 50% above HAP rent limits is available to the Dublin local authorities to assist in housing homeless households in the Dublin Region. The Place Finder Services can also pay a deposit and rent in advance on behalf of the tenant, meaning that that homeless households are provided with the best chance of finding a new home with the security that HAP provides.
In cases where a tenant, currently on a local authority waiting list, wishes to access rented accommodation with HAP support in another local authority area, I have directed local authorities to provide that HAP tenants continue to be dealt with by their originating local authority. However, the rent limits will be those that apply in the local authority where the property is situated. The originating local authority will engage with the relevant new local authority to facilitate eligible requests for inter-authority movement. Where homeless households have sourced or been assisted by the Place Finder Service in sourcing accommodation outside the Dublin area, the relevant rate of support is based on the rent limits that apply in the local authority where the property is situated. The DRHE have been advised to consult with the new local authority in relation to the appropriate level of support that should be provided. However, the Place Finder Service can still pay a deposit and rent in advance on behalf of the tenant.
In order to maintain the equitable treatment of all housing applicants, inter-authority movement for HAP applicants is based on the current Social Housing Eligibility Income Bands, i.e. movement will only be facilitated across local authorities with Income Bands that are equal or higher; or where shared areas of choice are already operated.
My Department continues to keep the operation of the HAP scheme under review, including the operation of inter authority movement. In general, I am satisfied with the operation of the HAP scheme and I consider it to be a key vehicle for meeting housing need and fulfilling the ambitious programme under the Rebuilding Ireland Action Plan for Housing and Homelessness.