What is Housing Assistance Payment?

HAP is a type of social housing support provided by the local authority

Written by spunout

Last Updated: May-09-24


Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) is a type of social housing support that the local authority can give to people who are unable to fully afford their rent. This means that the local authority, which is the city or county council, will pay some or all of a person’s or family’s rent. This payment is for people with long-term housing needs and will eventually replace rent supplement for this group.

What is HAP?

Under this scheme, you can take up full-time employment and still receive housing support. Your rent will be paid by your local authority (your city or county council) directly to your landlord, but you will also have to pay a weekly rent contribution to your local authority. Your rent contribution will be an amount of money and the amount you pay will be based on your income and ability to pay.

Who can apply for HAP?

To be able to apply for Housing Assistance Payment, you must be on your local authority’s housing list. You can only be on the housing list if you qualify for social housing support. If you are currently housed by your local authority, you cannot apply.If you currently receive rent supplement and qualify for social housing support, then you will be transferred to the HAP system on a phased basis.If you would like to find out if you qualify for social housing support, you can contact your local authority directly.

How does HAP work?

If you qualify, you then have to find your own accommodation in the private rented market within the rent limits in your area. This means that you will have to find a house that is privately-owned, to rent, within the area you applied for such as Fingal or South Dublin. A landlord is not allowed to refuse to rent the property to you on the basis that you are applying under this scheme and they cannot refuse to accept HAP payments.

How is my rent paid through HAP?

Your local authority will pay your landlord monthly and you will pay your rent contribution weekly to the local authority. You can pay your rent contribution through the An Post Household Budget Scheme or by bank standing order. If you do not pay your rent contribution, payments to your landlord will be suspended and eventually stopped. You will then be completely responsible for paying the rent yourself.

What are the benefits of HAP?

  • It allows you to work full-time, while still receiving housing support
  • Your local authority will inspect the rental property to make sure it meets a certain standard

Rent limits under the HAP

When finding accommodation under the scheme, your rent must be within the rent limits set by the local authority. In certain cases a 35% flexibility may be provided where accommodation can not be found within the rent limits. Your limit will depend on whether you are single, in a couple or with children as well as whether the accommodation is shared and where it is located. You can find the rent limits for your local authority.

What are my rights while renting through this scheme?

Although your rent will be paid by the local authority to your landlord, your tenancy agreement (lease) will be with your landlord directly. Your tenancy will be covered under the terms of the Residential Tenancies Act 2004 (as amended). You can find further information as your rights as a renter on the RTB website.

I am on rent supplement, when can I transfer to HAP?

If you are currently on rent supplement and qualify for social housing support you will be gradually transferred over to HAP. If you apply for the Housing Assistance Payment scheme, your rent supplement payments will stop once your application has been approved. You and your landlord will be written to to explain the process of transferring.

What are the main differences between Rent Supplement and HAP?

One of the main differences between the two is that you can take up full-time employment and still receive HAP but you cannot work any more than 30 hours per week on Rent Supplement. Also, you can’t be in full-time education and still qualify for Rent Supplement, unless you move on to a Back to Education Allowance payment.

What is Homeless HAP?

There is a specific scheme running in Dublin and Cork City for homeless households. The Homeless Housing Assistance Payment scheme gives additional financial and related supports to both tenants and landlords. To qualify for Homeless HAP, your local authority will have to decide that you are homeless, with no alternative accommodation and that you need additional support to find and secure rental accommodation.

Find further information on Homeless Housing Assistance Payment.

Learn more about your rights as a renter by visiting our Accommodation section.

How do I apply for HAP?

In order to be eligible for, you need to be on your local authority’s housing list. If you are not on the list, you will need to apply for local authority/ social housing. If you are already on the housing list, you can ask the local authority for an application form. This form only needs to be filled in when you have found suitable accommodation, or if you are already in private rented accommodation and eligible to transfer to HAP.

Need more information?

We are here to answer your questions and talk through your options. Our online chat service is for 16 to 25 year olds and is available Monday to Friday, 4pm to 8pm. Chat to us now about your situation.

Chat now to a trained Youth Information Officer or leave us a message and we will email you back

Feeling overwhelmed and want to talk to someone?

If you are a customer of the 48 or An Post network or cannot get through using the ‘50808’ short code please text HELLO to 086 1800 280 (standard message rates may apply). Some smaller networks do not support short codes like ‘50808’.

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