Housing Assistance Payment (HAP)
- Who is eligible for HAP?
- Paying your landlord
- Differential rent payment to local authority
- Following the commencement of a HAP
- How to apply
- Discrimination when letting residential property
- Further information
To be eligible for a Housing Assistance Payment, the person(s) applying must be currently on Clare County Council’s Housing List. Where a person is not on Clare County Council’s Housing List, they must go through the process of getting on the list before they are eligible to apply for HAP.
The HAP scheme aims to:
- Allow all social housing supports be accessed through one body - the local authority
- Allow people getting HAP to take up full-time employment and keep their housing support
The scheme provides assistance to people currently on the Housing List to pay their rent in private accommodation. It is up to the applicant to source private rented accommodation. The tenancy agreement remains a private agreement between the tenant and their landlord. In general, under the Residential Tenancies Acts 2004-2015, all private residential tenancies must be registered with the Residential Tenancies Board.
Under the HAP scheme, local authorities pay landlords directly. Tenants pay a weekly HAP rent contribution to the local authority, based on their income and ability to pay, further information on differential rent.
Where a person(s) is deemed eligible for HAP, a payment will be made directly to their landlord by the local authority on the last Wednesday of each month.
As stated in the above you must be on the Clare County Council’s housing list to be eligible to apply for the Housing Assistance Payment scheme.
Under HAP you must find your own private rented accommodation - the local authority will not source it for you.
Your housing needs will have been met under HAP and you will no longer be on the local authority’s housing waiting list. However, if you wish to have access to other social housing supports, such as local authority housing or housing provided by a housing association, you can apply to the local authority for a transfer. If you do apply for a transfer within 2 weeks of getting the letter confirming your HAP payment, any time that you spent on the housing list can be taken into account when your local authority considers your application. If you apply for a transfer at a later date, the time that you previously spent on the housing waiting list won’t count.
The local authority will make the HAP payment to your landlord on the last Wednesday of each month, subject to certain conditions:
- You must pay your weekly HAP rent contribution weekly – if not, the HAP will not be paid to your landlord
- If you get a social welfare payment at a post office, you must pay your HAP contribution through An Post’s Household Budget Deduction scheme.
- The accommodation must meet the minimum standards for rented housing
- Your landlord must provide evidence of tax compliance within five months of commencement of a HAP
- You (and your household) must not engage in anti-social behaviour.
If your landlord requires a deposit, you will have to pay this yourself – the local authority will not pay it for you. You may be able to get an “Exceptional Needs Payment” to help with paying the deposit from the Department of Social Protection.
You will pay a weekly HAP rent contribution to the local authority, based on your household’s weekly income. You are obliged to notify the local authority of any changes in your income or household size immediately.
If you take up a job or increase your working hours, you will still be eligible for HAP if you fulfil the other conditions of the scheme. This is different from the rules that apply to Rent Supplement.
The local authority will inspect your accommodation within 8 months of the first HAP payment to your landlord, to ensure that it meets the required minimum rented standards.
You will be expected to stay in your HAP accommodation for at least 2 years, but in some situations you may be able to apply for a new HAP payment elsewhere – for example, if you are offered a job in another town or if your family grows too large for the property or if your landlord gives you a notice to quit.
If you are not yet on Clare County Council’s housing list, you will need to apply for social housing support first. Application form can be download from the links in the Related documents/Attachments panel at the end of this page.
If you are already on the housing list, you can request a HAP application form at the Housing Department, New Road, Ennis, Co. Clare; by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or by phoning 065-6846417 or 065-6846419. This form only needs to be filled in when you have found suitable accommodation, or if you are already in private rented accommodation and eligible to transfer to HAP. Your landlord will need to complete and sign the landlord part of the HAP application form and provide the documentation required. Assistance under the HAP scheme can only be considered following the receipt of a complete & valid application. Please note that arrears are not paid under the scheme.
The Equal Status Acts 2000–2015 apply to lettings and accommodation. Landlords cannot discriminate against potential tenants on grounds of gender, civil status, family status, sexual orientation, religion, age, disability, race or membership of the Traveller community.
Since 1st January 2016, you cannot be discriminated against when renting because you are getting one of certain payments, which include HAP, so landlords can no longer state when advertising accommodation that HAP is not accepted. If you feel you have been discriminated against by a landlord or their agent, you can make a complaint under the Equal Status Acts.
People who are on the housing list and are currently getting Rent Supplement from the Department of Social Protection will be transferred to HAP on a phased basis. They are eligible to apply for HAP at present, without waiting to be transferred.
HAP will eventually replace Rent Supplement for people with a long-term housing need, though Rent Supplement will continue to be available for people who need short-term support to pay their rent.
In general, you cannot get Rent Supplement if you are in full-time employment or self-employment (30 hours or more a week). However, people on HAP can take up full-time employment, subject to the conditions of the scheme.
Housing application form [ PDF, 1432KB]
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