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Help with paying your rent for private tenants

If you are living in private rented accommodation in Ireland and receive a social welfare or Health Services Executive (HSE) payment, you may qualify for a rent supplement from your local Health Services Executive (HSE).

Rent Supplement is paid to people living in private residential accommodation who cannot provide for the cost of their accomodation from their own resources. Prior to 1st February 2005 there was a requirement that applicant had to be renting for six months in the preceding twelve months to qualify for rent supplement. This requirement has been discontinued. From 1st February 2005 applicants must currently be renting accomodation, they must have been able to afford the rent from their own resources when they started to rent and should have had a reasonable expectation that they would continue to be able to afford the rent into the future. This provision does not apply to all applicants. See 'Rules' below for more information on eligibility.

The amount of rent supplement will be calculated by the HSE's Community Welfare Officer and will generally ensure that your income after paying rent does not fall below a minimum level. This level is the Supplementary Welfare Allowance minus 13 euro (26 euro for social welfare pensioners aged over 65).

Some income is not taken in account by the Community Welfare Office when calculating the amount of Rent Supplement you will receive. The following is not taken into account:

* Family Income Supplement,
* 60 euro of additional income from part-time employment including Community Employment Schemes. From January 2006, If your earnings from employment are between 60 euros and 90 euros only half of your earning between 60 euros and 90 euros is taken into account. For example, if you are earning 90 euros only 15 euros is taken into account.
* 60 euro of additional income from participation in approved training courses, for example a FÁS skills training courses. From January 2006, If your earnings are between 60 euros and 90 euros only half of your earning between 60 euros and 90 euros is taken into account. For example, if you are earning 90 euros only 15 euros is taken into account.
* Childcare allowances for participants in approved training courses, for example FÁS skills training courses.
* 120 euro from rehabilitative training or employment if you are in receipt of Disability Allowance,
* If you are on a One Parent Family Payment, up to 95.23 euro of maintenance payments can be deemed for rent, half of the amount above this in taken into account as means and will effect your One Parent Family Payment. The 95.23 euro of maintenance is taken into account when calculating the rent supplement, but maintenance above 95.23 euro up to a limit of 60 euro can be disregarded for rent supplement,
* Income from employment by a Health Board as a Home Help,
* Living Alone Allowance,
* Over 80 Allowance,
* Domiciliary Care Allowance.

Rent supplement is paid by a weekly or a monthly cheque, usually in arrears

Rental Accommodation Scheme (RAS)

The Rental Accommodation Scheme (RAS) is a new scheme for people who have been receiving long-term rent supplement (usually for more than 18 months) and who need long-term housing. The scheme is run by local authorities (all local authorities should implement the scheme by the end of 2005). Under the scheme local authorities draw up contracts with landlords to provide housing for people with a long-term housing need for an agreed term. The local authority pays the rent directly to the landlord (tenants may continue to contribute to rents but they pay this contribution to the local authority not to the landlord).

The key elements of the scheme are:

* Local authorities will pay the full rent to the landlord on behalf of the tenant
* Landlords must register tenancies with the Private Residential Tenancies Board (PRTB) and the tenancies are governed by the Residential Tenancies Act 2004 (pdf).
* The property must meet minimum standards for private rental accommodation.
* Deposits are not required since the local authority has entered into a contract with the landlord.

The Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government has published two explanatory leaflets; a leaflet on the Rental Accommodation Scheme for tenants (pdf) and a leaflet on the Rental Accommodation Scheme for landlords (pdf). A general overview of the scheme is also available.

Rules

You may be eligible for rent supplement if you are:

* assessed by a Housing Authority as having a housing need,
* regarded by a Housing Authority as being homeless,
* a tenant of accommodation provided under one of the Social Housing Schemes,
* over 65,
* on certain disability payments, i.e. Disability Allowance, Invalidity Pension, Blind Pension and the equivalent payments from other EU countries or countries that Ireland has a bilateral social security agreement,
* pass a habitual residence test
* and the accommodation is suitable for your needs and the rent is reasonable.

You will not qualify for rent supplement if you are:

* in full time employment (employment for 30 hours per week or more). In the case of couples, if one of a couple is in full time employment both are excluded from claiming rent supplement;
* have refused a third offer of local authority accommodation in an 18 month period, starting from 31 January 2004, you will not be eligible to claim Rent Supplement for 12 months;
* leaving local authority housing without reasonable cause.

Appealing a decision made by the Health Service Executive (HSE) Area

If you are not satisfied with a decision made in relation to rent supplement, you should first find out why the decision was made by asking the Community Welfare Officer. If you have any extra documentation to back up your case, give this to the Community Welfare Officer.

Then discuss the decision with the Senior Community Welfare Officer. He/she can change the decision if your case deserves it.

If the decision is not changed, then request an appeal form. Include as much detail as possible in your appeal and keep photocopies of everything.

If your appeal is unsuccessful, you are entitled to have the appeal referred to the Chief Appeals Office in the Social Welfare Appeals Office. You may request a personal hearing and you can bring along a representative to help you argue your case.

Rates

The amount of rent supplement will be worked out by the HSE's Community Welfare Officer and will generally ensure that your income, after paying rent, does not fall below a minimum level. This level is the Supplementary Welfare Allowance minus 13 euro (26 euro for social welfare pensioners). Family Income Supplement is also disregarded in the standard means test for Rent Supplement.

Health Service Executive Areas set a maximum rent level for each area. This means that if your actual rent is above this level, you will only get rent supplement based on the local maximum set by the HSE. If your actual rent is significantly higher than the local maximum, you may be refused rent supplement entirely.

This information was supplied http://www.oasis.gov.ie/

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