F.A.Q

F.A.Q2021-09-13T14:10:04+00:00

Basic Rights

If you are ordinarily resident in Ireland, you have:

  • The right to apply to your local authority to be assessed for social housing support.
  • The right to information about you held by public bodies.
  • The right to fair procedures by a local authority when they are assessing you for accommodation and support.
  • The right to appeal a local authority decision concerning you. If you are not satisfied, you can complain to the Ombudsman (www.ombudsman.ie). Further details in relation to complaining to the Ombudsman are available here.

If you are in a family home with your spouse but do not own or part-own the property, your family home cannot be mortgaged or sold without your consent.

If you are a homeless child, under the age of 18, you have:

  • The right to adequate shelter.

If you are a local authority tenant, you have the right to:

  • A tenancy agreement which sets out your rights and obligations as a tenant.
  • A hardship clause if you are having difficulties paying rent.
  • Apply to be heard in court if you think a proposed eviction may be unfair.
  • Housing which is fit for people to live in and in good repair. Local authorities are responsible for many maintenance issues. Examples of repairs which are the responsibility of the local authority include structural repairs, electrical faults and flooding.

If you are a member of the Traveller Community, you have the right to:

  • Traveller specific accommodation, such as halting sites. This must be provided by local authorities.

Other rights:

  • The right to apply for an excluding order if you are the victim of anti-social behaviour in or near your home.
  • The right to not be discriminated against in relation to access to housing.

Social Housing Queries

Social housing support is the overall name for when a local authority makes arrangements to address your housing needs. This can consist of the local authority providing you with social housing itself or through other forms of support, including you being housed in a private tenancy with the rent paid by the local authority to the landlord under the Housing Assistance Payment scheme.

Local authority social housing is the most common form of social housing support. Individuals who seek social housing from a local authority must meet certain conditions set by law, and must have a sufficient need for social housing before they will be given accommodation. The supply of local authority social housing is limited and there is generally a significant waiting list. The more need a person has for social housing, the shorter they will have to wait on the waiting list. When accommodation is provided, tenants must pay rent to the local authority, based on the household’s ability to pay.

Approved Housing Bodies (AHBs), often known as voluntary housing associations, also provide social housing to individuals and families in certain circumstances. This is a less common source of social housing support.

The State also has other schemes to help people with a housing need.  Social housing support may consist of you being housed in a private tenancy with the rent paid by the local authority to the landlord under the Housing Assistance Payment scheme (HAP).  The local authority is not your landlord and you have a normal landlord-tenant relationship with the person you rent the property from.  HAP is available in all local authority areas and will eventually replace long-term Rent Supplement.  Rent Supplement is a form of relief that is being phased out, which can apply where you are renting from a private landlord or want to rent from a private landlord but cannot afford it and meet certain conditions. Rent Supplement is granted by the Department of Social Protection and is a short-term income supplement to cover your rent, depending on your circumstances.

Some local authorities also have an Applicant Sourced Housing scheme, a form of social housing where you find a place to live, and if the owner of the property agrees, the local authority will rent it from the owner on your behalf and you, in turn, will pay rent to the local authority at a set, affordable rate.

You can only apply to one local authority for social housing. There are four housing authorities in Dublin: Dublin City Council (DCC), South Dublin County Council, (SDCC), Fingal County Council (FCC) and Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council (DLRCC). There are 31 local authorities nationwide. You must already live in the area for a certain length of time or you must be able to show you have a local connection to the area. If neither of these conditions apply, the local authority can exercise discretion and allow you to apply in the area of your choice on an exceptional basis.

While you can only apply to one local authority, you can specify up to three areas of preference within either the function area of that authority or within the same county.  Up to two of these areas can be managed by other local authorities.  For example, if you apply to Dublin City Council, one area of preference must be in the DCC area and you can specify up to two further preference areas in the remit of DCC, SDCC, FCC or DLRCC.

There are two steps: you must show that you are eligible for social housing and you must show that you are in need of social housing.

First, the local authority will assess whether you are eligible for social housing support. The local authority will look at basic facts about whether you have a right to reside in Ireland, your income levels, your current accommodation and your family circumstances and then will make a decision based on rules set by law on whether you are eligible for social housing support or not.

If you are considered eligible, the local authority will then decide whether you have a need for social housing support. The local authority will consider all of your circumstances, such as the suitability of your current accommodation for you and other members of your household. The local authority will also consider whether the household has access to alternative accommodation in the form of property the household could be reasonably expected to live in.

If you are eligible and you have a sufficient need, you will be put on a waiting list in order of priority of need. As houses become available to the local authority for renting out, they are allocated from the waiting list in order of priority, taking into account all the relevant circumstances. Each local authority has its own rules on deciding who should be prioritised on this list. Some housing authorities have a points system, where you will be given points depending on your circumstances, for example if you have a disability or have a young family or are homeless. The local authority will contact the applicant when the applicant’s place on the list is reached and offer accommodation in one of the areas of the applicant’s choice.

Voluntary housing associations provide assistance for people with a housing need in many different ways. The Irish Council for Social Housing is an organisation that provides information on housing associations across Ireland that are voluntary or not for profit. Many of these housing associations provide assistance for those with difficulties with their current accommodation or who are seeking accommodation. An online search of the organisations is available at www.icsh.ie.

The housing section in your local authority will provide help to fill out the form. Citizens Information Centres can also provide help and information. You can find your local Citizens Information Centre here.

Questions related to RAS/HAP

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.

The Rental Accommodation Scheme (RAS) is for people who are receiving Rent Supplement and who have a long term housing need that cannot be funded from their income. In general, people who are getting Rent Supplement for more than 18 months are considered for RAS. Your local authority will negotiate a tenancy. You still pay rent to the local authority. The Residential Tenancies Act 2004 governs the relationship between the landlord and the tenant, which means, for example, that disputes can be referred to the Private Residential Tenancies Board. For more information on your rights and obligations as a private residential tenant see www.citizensinformation.ie and www.threshold.ie.

There is little difference in the two schemes in practice. One difference between the schemes is that under HAP the tenant is expected to find suitable private rental accommodation, whereas under RAS the local authority sourced the accommodation. Secondly, an individual must be in receipt of Rent Supplement for more than 18 months to be considered for RAS. You can apply for the HAP scheme at any point when you are eligible and in need of social housing support.

Rent Supplement will still be available from the Department of Social Protection for people who don’t qualify for social housing support – for example, someone who is temporarily unemployed. Normally, you need to show that you have been renting in the private sector for at least six months of the previous year and that you could afford your rent at the beginning of the tenancy. You may also qualify if you have received Rent Supplement at any time during the 12 months before applying.

For applicants who apply on or after 13 March 2020, you must have been in your current tenancy for more than 4 weeks and could have continued to pay your rent from your own resources, but are unable to due to the COVID-19 public health emergency.

Falling behind with rent payments to the local authority is a common occurrence that local authorities are used to dealing with. You should explain your financial situation to your local authority as soon as possible. The local authority will work with you as best they can to help sort the problem out and to arrange for you to enter into a payment plan to pay a little bit of rent arrears each week. If you leave the arrears to build up, this will lead to far greater difficulties in the future than if you co-operate with the local authority at the outset.

Are you at imminent risk of homelessness?

If you are made homeless, you can present to your local authority and seek emergency accommodation. The eligibility requirements for emergency accommodation are different from those required to access social housing. Types of emergency accommodation include B&B or hostel accommodation, family hubs and refuges.

There are a range of support organisations you can contact for help in relation to homelessness, many listed here: Homelessness Services – HSE.ie

Voluntary housing associations provide assistance for people with a housing need in many different ways. The Irish Council for Social Housing is an organisation that provides information on housing associations across Ireland that are voluntary or not for profit. Many of these housing associations provide assistance for those with difficulties with their current accommodation or who are seeking accommodation. An online search of the organisations is available at www.icsh.ie.

Yes, since 2011 the rules changed so that if you cannot meet mortgage repayments, this will be taken into consideration by the local authority when they are assessing your housing need. Information on the mortgage-to-rent scheme is available here.

You can find your local authority’s details on the Local Government Management Agency (LGMA) website here.

A local authority can evict you by law only if they follow the correct procedures. Under the Housing Act 2014, a local authority cannot evict you unless the District Court feels it is reasonable to do so in the circumstances. The new Act also introduces a “tenancy warning” system, where a local authority will write to the tenant if they feel they are in breach of their tenancy agreement i.e. for anti-social behaviour or rent arrears. A tenant is entitled to an independent review of a decision to grant a tenancy warning. Normally the local authority will not attempt to evict you unless you breach an earlier tenancy warning. However, in cases of severe anti-social behaviour an authority may proceed straight to eviction. The eviction process is complicated and you should seek independent legal advice. You should contact your local Citizens Information Centre who may assist you.

Sometimes people might live in local authority housing but not be an official tenant. For example, if a person lives with a partner or family member but is not declared on the property rent. People in this situation are in a precarious position and may not be able to avail of eviction protections under the Housing Act 2014, or other processes such as succession. If you think you are in this situation, it is important to get advice immediately.

MLRC provides legal support to Citizens Information Centres and organisations including Focus Ireland, Dublin Simon and Crosscare, who may refer questions to us at MLRC or, after consulting with us, can refer people to us for legal advice.

While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this information, it is provided for general legal information only and is not intended as a substitute for legal advice. MLRC does not accept any legal liability for the contents of these FAQs. People with specific legal problems should consult a solicitor.