Are you a HAP tenant and struggling to pay your rent?
New rules could mean you are eligible for a higher payment.
If you are a HAP tenant struggling to pay a ‘top-up’ to your landlord, a recent announcement by Minister for Housing, Darragh O’Brien, may help you.
Under the HAP scheme, your local authority will pay rent to your landlord up to a maximum official threshold set for your area and household type. If your rental costs are more than this threshold you have to pay the difference as a ‘top-up’ to the landlord. Where local rents are high and tenants are under financial pressure, the local authority can at its discretion increase the amount they pay – so reducing the contribution you need to make. From July 9th, local authorities can pay up to 35% over the official threshold. Previously this discretion was limited to 20%.
Government guidance currently in place is that ‘’the actual discretion rate applied should be set equal to the amount required such that no more than 35% of monthly household income is payable in rental top-ups and differential rent for households in employment and 30% of monthly income for households solely reliant on social welfare supports”. If you believe you are paying more than this and are financially struggling, you should seek a rent review.
Previously, where the official threshold was €600 a month, the local authority could increase the threshold up to €720. Under the new guidelines, the threshold may be increased up to 35% – which means the threshold could be raised up to €810.
The payment of an increase is at the discretion of the local authority. Your rental costs will be reviewed by the local authority to assess if they are affordable.
Check if you may be eligible for an increased payment.
To see if you are eligible for this increased discretionary payment you need to ask your local authority to do a Rent Review for you. They will ask you for details about your income and your rent. To ask for a rent review, please click here to send your local office an email and remember to complete your name and details in the body of the email, where prompted.
In Dublin, many tenants are on Homeless HAP, either because they were homeless or were at risk of becoming so. This scheme already allows discretion up to 50% above the official threshold, and this has not been increased. So if you are on Homeless HAP the changes are unlikely to make any difference to you. Homeless HAP is currently under review, so look out for announcements of changes in the next few months.
In all cases where your circumstances (income, family makeup, etc.) have changed, you are obliged to inform your local authority and they will carry out a rent review. If your income or the income of one of your household increased since your HAP was last reviewed (for instance if one of you got a job) a rent review may result in you paying MORE rent to the Council.
What happens next?
Your local authority will assess your application and will award you any increase you may be due. Unfortunately, there may be delays in completing your rent review and making a decision, however, if you are entitled to an increase, this should be backdated to the date of your application, so it is important that you return your application as early as possible.
If you believe that you are eligible to this additional payment and are at imminent risk of homelessness because of rent arrears, please contact us on