Wednesday, 31 March 2021
Department of Housing, Planning, and Local Government
Social and Affordable Housing
498. To ask the Minister for Housing, Planning, and Local Government the reason a social housing applicant with Dublin City Council has to remove South Dublin County Council as an area of choice once they avail of the housing assistance payment; if there is an appeal process; and if this is likely to change in the near future. [17307/21]
Section 20 of the Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2009 and the Social Housing Assessment Regulations 2011, as amended, set down a standard procedure for assessing applicants for social housing support. Under this procedure, a household may apply for support to one housing authority only, which may be the authority for the area in which the household normally resides or with which it has a local connection, or the authority that agrees, at its discretion, to assess the household for support. A household meeting either the residence or local connection condition may specify up to three areas of choice for receipt of support in the areas of all housing authorities in the county and city concerned and, if qualified, will be entered on the housing waiting list of each of those housing authorities.
Consistent with the provisions in the Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2014, the Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) scheme is considered to be a social housing support and consequently households in receipt of a payment under the HAP scheme are not eligible to remain on the main housing waiting list. However, acknowledging that some households on the waiting list, who avail of HAP, have expectations that they would receive a more traditional form of social housing support, Ministerial directions have issued to ensure that, should they so choose, HAP recipients can avail of a move to other forms of social housing support through a transfer list.
Furthermore, local authorities were also directed that HAP recipients who apply to go on the transfer list should get full credit for the time they spent on the waiting list and be placed on the transfer list with no less favourable terms than if they had remained on the waiting list.
Guidelines on inter-authority movement were issued to local authorities to facilitate the movement of HAP households from one local authority area to another in cases where a HAP tenant wishes to access rented accommodation, with HAP support, in another local authority area. Inter authority movement is, however, subject to certain conditions, such as the relevant Social Housing Income Eligibility Bands and confirmation that the applicant's income is below the threshold in the new local authority.
In order to maintain equity between all tenants in receipt of social housing support, and avoid the potential for difficult to enforce movements in shared rental markets/across local authority borders, inter-authority movement for HAP will be facilitated without reference to Social Housing Eligibility Income Bands in areas that offer shared areas of choice in their allocation schemes, as no change to existing treatment is involved in such areas. For example, in Dublin, the four local authority areas currently offer shared areas of choice in their allocation schemes. However, HAP tenants who avail of inter-authority movement, can only be offered access to the transfer list of the originating local authority.
The practical operation of transfer lists is a matter for each local authority to manage, on the basis of their own scheme of letting priorities. The making of such schemes is a reserved function of the local authority and as such is a matter for the elected members.
Each local authority has a customer service charter and complaints procedure for applicants who may wish to make a complaint regarding the service they receive. Following that complaint, if they consider that they have been unfairly treated or are not satisfied with the Council’s decision on their complaint, it is open to them to make a complaint to the Ombudsman.