Tuesday, 14 May 2019
Department of Housing, Planning, and Local Government
Local Authority Housing Eligibility
493. To ask the Minister for Housing, Planning, and Local Government if a person who is separated from a spouse and part owner of the family home can be considered for the housing assistance payment or council housing waiting lists while trying to resolve the situation with the family home; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [20477/19]
Provision has been made in housing legislation for persons who have separated and/or divorced or who are in the process of separation and/or divorce.
Under section 20 of the Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2009 and Regulation 22(1) of the Social Housing Assessment Regulations 2011, a household is ineligible for social housing support if a member owns alternative accommodation, to the household’s current accommodation, that is suitable for the household to live in. Regulation 22(2) of the 2011 Regulations provides that this ineligibility does not apply where an applicant for social housing support owns accommodation that is occupied by his or her spouse, from whom he or she is formally separated or divorced. Under the enactment, a deed of separation is sufficient to set aside this ineligibility ground and it is not necessary to await judicial separation or divorce to get a decision on social housing support in these cases. The rationale for this exception is that the terms of a formal separation or divorce will provide for the future ownership and occupation of the family home and it will be clear whether the household that has left the family home can return to live there.
In order to provide more flexibility to housing authorities to deal with cases where the ownership of the family home had not yet been finalised, the Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2014 amended section 20 of the 2009 Act. Housing authorities may now provide such households with social housing support under the Rental Accommodation Scheme or the Housing Assistance Payment scheme until ownership of the family home is resolved in a formal separation or divorce settlement.
The 2014 Act amendment provides that support in these circumstances will be reviewed by the housing authority at prescribed intervals and the household will not be able to transfer to other forms of social housing support while ownership of the family home remains to be determined. However, where the household ultimately qualifies for the full range of social housing supports, the length of time the household was supported under RAS or HAP will be reckonable for the purposes of determining the household’s relative priority for a transfer to local authority social housing.