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Old 04-06-2010, 02:09 AM
Welfarite Welfarite is offline
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Changes to the Rent Supplement Scheme from 1 June 2009

The following changes to the rent supplement scheme were announced in the recent Supplementary Budget.
From 27 July 2009
  • New qualifying conditions were introduced restricting rent supplement to those
    • who have been assessed by a local authority as eligible and in need of social housing or
    • who have already been residing in private rented accommodation and/or accommodation for homeless persons for 6 months
From 1 June 2009
  • The maximum amount of rent for which a supplement can be paid has been reduced
  • The minimum contribution which a person pays towards rent has been increased by €6 to €24 a week.
  • Rent supplement payments have been further reduced by 8%
Full Assessment of Housing Need
  • From 27th July 2009, new applicants for a rent supplement musthave been residing in private rented accommodation or accommodation for homeless persons (or any combination of these) for a period of 183 days (6 months) within the preceding 12 months of the date of claim for Rent Supplement,
or
  • have had an assessment of housing need carried out within the 12 months preceding the date of claim and have been deemed by the relevant local authority to be eligible for and in need of social housing support.
Where the above requirements are met, a person will not be referred to a local authority for an assessment of housing need at initial claim stage. The assessment of the claim for Rent Supplement will proceed in the normal way.
In all other cases, a person who wishes to apply for Rent Supplement will be referred, in the first instance, for an assessment of eligibility for social housing support by the local housing authority in the area where claim to Rent Supplement is made (and the person intends to reside). Only when the person has been assessed as being eligible for and in need of social housing support, does the person become eligible for consideration for Rent Supplement.
Rent Supplement is not payable while a housing needs assessment is being undertaken. Some limited exceptions may apply.
Any questions you may have in relation to your housing needs assessment should be made to your local housing authority

Rent Limits

From 1 June 2009, maximum rent limits are being reduced by 6% to 7% on average, ranging up to 10%, depending on location and household size. The reductions reflect the downward trends in the private rental market. The new rent limits are shown here.
The revised rent limits will apply to new tenancies from 1 June 2009 and to existing rent supplement recipients either moving to new accommodation or seeking a review of entitlement from that date.
Increased Minimum Contribution / Reduction of 8%

The minimum contribution which a person pays towards rent is being increased by €6 from €18 to €24 a week from 1 June 2009 and a further 8% reduction has been made from the same date. All existing recipients of rent supplement have had their payment automatically reduced and each person has been notified by letter of the details of the reduction in their payment.

Questions which may arise on the reduction in rent supplement payments are answered below.

Am I automatically entitled to rent supplement if I am made unemployed?

Unless you have been in private rented accommodation or in homeless accommodation for 6 months or more, you must undergo a housing needs assessment by your local authority and be deemed eligible for and in need of social housing support before you can apply for rent supplement. Other conditions will apply.
Where do I get my housing needs assessment?

The housing needs assessment will be carried out by your local authority.
I am on a long-term Social Welfare payment, do I still have to be assessed by my local authority?

Yes, unless you have been in private rented or in homeless accommodation for 6 months or more, you must undergo a housing needs assessment by your local authority and be deemed eligible for and in need of social housing support before you can apply rent supplement.
Will Rent Supplement be paid while I am waiting for my housing needs assessment to be completed

Rent Supplement is not payable while a housing needs assessment is being undertaken, though there may be some exceptions.
How long will it take for a local housing authority to complete my housing needs assessment?

This is a matter for the local authorities and you should contact them concerning any queries in relation to the housing needs assessment.
Why are rent limits and current rent supplement payments being reduced?

The maximum amount of rent for which a supplement can be paid was last reviewed in mid 2008. Since then rents in the private sector have fallen substantially. It is essential that state support for tenants does not give rise to inflated rental prices.
The contribution of €24 a week is more in line with the minimum rent typically paid to local authorities in various parts of the country by their tenants.
When are the changes being implemented?

The reductions in rent payments are being implemented automatically for the majority of customers by 1st June. Reductions for those paid fortnightly, four-weekly or quarterly will be made by Community Welfare Officers.
What reductions are being made?

The minimum contribution which a person pays towards rent is being increased by €6 to €24 a week from 1 June 2009 and the balance of the payment is being reduced by a further 8% from the same date. A small number of people currently receiving very low payments may no longer qualify for a rent supplement payment because of these reductions.
Will people be told what the reduction is in their payment?

Those currently receiving a rent supplement payment are being advised by letter in advance of the reduction being made to their rent supplement payment. Most should receive this letter in the week commencing 25 May 2009. The letter provides details of (i) the rent supplement in payment prior to 1 June 2009, (ii) the reductions being made and (iii) the resulting new rent supplement payment from 1 June 2009.
An online calculator is also available here where a person can work out the reduction to be applied to their current rent supplement payment.
Are landlords being advised of the changes?

An advertisement is being placed in newspapers in the week commencing 25 May 2009 to advise landlords of the reductions in rent payments. Given the rental market trends and availability of rental properties, landlords are being asked to respond positively to tenants who present their letter seeking a reduction in rent.


What should a person in receipt of rent supplement do now?

If a person wishes to talk to their landlord to seek a reduction in their rent payment they can show the landlord the letter from the Department as evidence of the reduced rent supplement payment.
What are the new maximum rent limits for Rent Supplement?
The new maximum rent limits for rent supplement are shown here. The limits have been reduced by up 6% to 7% on average, ranging up to 10%, depending on the location and household size. The reductions reflect the downward trends in the private rental market and are aligned with the reductions being applied to existing rent supplement tenants.
How will the changes affect a person who moves house?

Existing rent supplement tenants who move to new accommodation or seek a review of entitlement to rent supplement on and from 1 June 2009 will have their claim decided on by reference to the new rent limits. Their weekly contribution towards their rent will be €24 from the same date.
What happens if the landlord refuses to reduce the rent being charged?

As there isnow a large number of rental properties vacant across the country, a person can look for new accommodation at a more reasonable rent.
The local Community Welfare Officer can also be contacted especially if circumstances have changed in any individual case since entitlement to rent supplement was last reviewed.
Is there anyone else who can help with advice?

The Money Advice and Budgeting Service operate a helpline which operates from 9am to 8pm Monday to Friday on 1890 283 438. The Helpline Advisers can assist people in dealing with money management issues. For more information see 'www.mabs.ie'.
The Private Residential Tenancies Board provides information and a dispute resolution service for landlords and tenants. More information is available on 'www.prtb.ie'.