What is social housing support?
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.
What kind of social housing support is available?
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.
How do I apply for social housing?
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.
How does the local authority assess whether or not I should get social housing?
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.
What housing options do non-government agencies provide?
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.
I need to fill out the local authority housing application form, who can I contact?
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.