Written answers

Thursday, 5 March 2020

Department of Housing, Planning, and Local Government

Housing Assistance Payment Data

Claire Kerrane (Roscommon-Galway, Sinn Fein)
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1226. To ask the Minister for Housing, Planning, and Local Government the frequency with which HAP limits for local authorities outside Dublin are reviewed; the criteria that must be met in order for HAP limits to be increased; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3294/20]

Photo of Eoghan MurphyEoghan Murphy (Dublin Bay South, Fine Gael)
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Increased rent limits for Rent Supplement and the Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) scheme were introduced in 2016. The HAP limits were agreed in conjunction with the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection (DEASP).  In reviewing rent limits, my Department worked closely with the DEASP and monitored data gathered from the Residential Tenancies Board and the HAP Shared Services Centre.  The HAP rent limits were increased significantly in July 2016, in the order of 60% in some cases.

Maximum rent limits for the HAP scheme are set out for each housing authority area by the Housing Assistance Payment (Amendment) Regulations 2017.  The current maximum HAP rent limits are available on the Irish Statute Book website at the following link:

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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. The additional discretion available to homeless households recognises the difficulty this cohort of households face in sourcing and securing properties in a highly competitive rental market. It is a matter for the local authority to determine if the application of the flexibility is warranted on a case by case basis and also the level of additional discretion applied in each case. 

Taking account of the additional discretion available to local authorities to exceed the maximum rent limit by up to 20%, and up to 50% in the Dublin region for those households either in, or at immediate risk of homelessness, I am satisfied that the HAP scheme is operating effectively.

I am also 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.

My Department closely monitors the level of discretion being used by local authorities, taking into account other sources of data, including Residential Tenancies Board rent data published on a quarterly basis. I am satisfied that the current maximum rent limits, together with the additional flexibility available to local authorities, are generally sufficient to support the effective operation of the HAP scheme.  However, I will continue to keep the matter under review.

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