The Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) is a form of social housing support offered by local authorities for people who have a long-term housing need.
To qualify, a household must be eligible to go on the local authority housing waiting list but not currently housed by their local authority. Current Rent Supplement recipients who qualify for social housing support will be transferred from Rent Supplement to HAP on a phased basis.
Under HAP the tenant sources private rental accommodation and enters a tenancy with a private landlord. The rent charged for the accommodation must be within prescribed limits for the household type in that administrative area. Once the landlord has agreed to rent their property to the HAP tenant, the local authority will make a monthly payment directly to the landlord, covering a portion of the rent. The payment is conditional on the HAP tenant continuing to pay a weekly rent contribution to the local authority, the level of which is determined based on their income and ability to pay. HAP tenants pay their rent contribution through the An Post Household Budget Scheme, Bill Pay card or where their social welfare payment is paid into their bank, by direct debit from their bank. Under the HAP scheme you can take up full-time employment and keep your housing support. Detailed information about HAP is available on www.hap.ie, including information leaflets for tenants and general information.
Landlords are not entitled to discriminate against prospective tenants because they receive certain payments, including HAP. Thus, tenancies cannot be advertised claiming not to accept HAP tenants.
It is important to note that under HAP you have a normal landlord-tenant relationship with the person you rent the property from and have the same rights and responsibilities under the Residential Tenancies Act 2004 as any private tenant. Useful resources for private tenants with difficulties include www.citizensinformation.ie, www.threshold.ie and www.rtb.ie.
Further information and a table setting out the prescribed HAP rent limits in each local authority is available here.
A higher rate of HAP can apply under the Homeless HAP scheme, which has additional eligibility criteria and is not available in all areas.