1061. Deputy Gino Kenny asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government his views on a matter (details supplied); his further views on the fact that those in receipt of the housing assistance payment for homeless households in the building are continuing to receive the payment and have their rent paid leading to a discrepancy between those on the normal payment and those on the homeless payment; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 12808/18 asked on 20 Mar 2018)
Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government (Deputy Eoghan Murphy): Any household assessed as eligible for social housing is immediately eligible for housing support through the Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) scheme. Once a household has been deemed eligible for social housing support, it is a matter for the local authority to examine the suite of social housing supports available, including the HAP scheme, to determine the most appropriate form of social housing support for that household in the administrative area of that local authority. Decisions in relation to HAP, including the suitability of HAP accommodation is a matter for the local authority concerned.
A key principle of the HAP scheme is that eligible households source their own accommodation in the private rented sector and the tenancy agreement is between the tenant and the landlord and is governed by the Residential Tenancies Act 2004 (as amended).
After agreeing a tenancy with the landlord, the tenant needs to return a valid and complete HAP application to the relevant local authority. The local authority may not approve a HAP application if the accommodation is not suitable. HAP support will only commence once the local authority approves a valid application.
In relation to the Deputy’s specific query, my Department has been advised by the relevant local authority that a number of applications were recently submitted seeking approval for HAP in respect of units in the area referred to. Prior to approving these applications, I am advised that concerns were raised regarding planning compliance on the particular scheme and that pending the outcome of an enquiry into these allegations the local authority have taken the decision not to approve HAP applications at this location. In these cases, the applicants can source alternative accommodation and retain their eligibility for HAP support.
The Homeless HAP scheme has been operational since February 2015 across the four housing authorities in the Dublin Region, and is being implemented through the Dublin Region Homeless Executive (DRHE). The focus of this scheme is to transition qualified households from emergency accommodation, including hotels, into private rented tenancies. A number of DRHE Homeless HAP tenancies had been approved prior to the planning compliance issue being raised. No new Homeless HAP or ordinary HAP will be accepted on these properties and my Department will continue to liaise with the local authority on the situation for existing units.