There have been recent changes to a council’s discretionary power surrounding the available rates of Housing Assistance Payment (HAP). This is as a result of the Housing Assistance Payment (Amendment) Regulations 2022 (S.I. No. 342 of 2022) as explained in Circular: Housing 29/2022 which can be found here. These measures are to remain in place on a temporary basis for two years from 11/07/2022.
The changes do two things.
Firstly, there Regulations allow for additional flexibility of up to 35% above the prescribed maximum rent limits to secure suitable accommodation for a qualified household for social housing support where that household cannot find any accommodation within the rent limits. This is an increase from the previous 20% allowance. This change is provided for both new and existing HAP tenancies as tenants can request that their local authority review the discretion level provided if they consider their tenancy to be unaffordable or if their landlord increases their rent.
It is made clear that the extended discretion is applicable only where the HAP tenant is paying in excess of affordability guidelines. Furthermore, to the greatest extent possible the actual discretion rate applied should be set equal to the amount required so that no more than 35% of the monthly household income is payable in rent top ups and differential rent for households in employment, or 30% for those reliant solely on social welfare.
Secondly, local authorities may apply a couple rate to a new single person tenancy where this is required, given that both have a one-bed need. This only applies to new tenancies, in recognition of the fact that they are more expensive. It is emphasised that this should only apply where the 35% discretion to award HAP above rent limits is not sufficient.
All information provided on this blog is provided for information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. Click here to read more.