Rent Allowance


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Internal Guidelines used in processing claims

Table of Contents

PART 1: ENTITLEMENT

Description of Scheme
Information Leaflet
Legislation
Administration
Qualifying conditions in summary
Qualification conditions in detail
Amount of Allowance
Maximum Allowance
Reduced Rate of Allowance
Minimum Payment
Calculation of Amount Payable: Examples
Advantage where other household members are in receipt of a social welfare payment.
Increases in Rent
What counts as means
How income of other members of the household is assessed.
Assessment of means of other household members.

PART 2: CLAIMS, INVESTIGATION AND DECISION PROCEDURES

Claims
Late Claims
Documentation
Investigation of Claims
Decisions
Appeals

PART 3: PROCEDURES FOLLOWING AWARD

Payment
Payment after Death
Means Test Applicable For 6 Weeks After Death Of Spouse
Duration of Payment
Maintenance
Lost Cheques
Certification of ongoing entitlement
Review
Suspension of payment


PART 1: ENTITLEMENT

Description of Scheme

A Rent Allowance is payable to tenants of certain dwellings affected by the de-control of rents on 26 July 1982.

Following the de-control of rents, a tenant who suffers hardship due to a rent increase may qualify for a Rent Allowance. Rent Allowance is not assessable as means for other Social Welfare or Health Service Executive payments.

Information Leaflet

Rent Allowance SW 58 and annual rates supplement SW 58A

Legislation

The main provisions relating to Rent Allowance are in the Housing (Private Rented Dwellings) Act, 1982 and the Social Welfare (Rent Allowance) Regulations, 1991, as amended and Social Welfare Statutory Instrument 354 of 2002. Statutory Instrument 352 of 2005 also refers.

Administration

The scheme is administered by Rent Allowance Section, Social Welfare Services Office, Government Buildings, Ballinalee Road, Longford.

Note: Rent/Mortgage Supplement, administered by Community Welfare Officers of the Health Service Executive , is a separate scheme.

Qualifying conditions in summary

The applicant must have been the tenant or a successor to the tenancy, of a dwelling which was subject to rent control until 26 July 1982 and must satisfy a means test and other tenancy conditions.

Qualification conditions in detail

All of the following conditions must be satisfied:

  • On the 26th of July 1982, the applicant must have been the tenant or a spouse of the tenant, of a dwelling which was subject to rent control until that date. A member of his/her family may be eligible for an allowance where they succeeded to the tenancy on or before 25th July 2002; and
  • The applicant must be entitled to retain possession of that dwelling; and
  • The Terms of Tenancy must have been fixed by the relevant Court or by the Rent Tribunal or by a rent officer. The terms should be set out in a written form signed by the landlord or his agent. A copy should be given to the tenant; and
  • The tenancy and details of any new rent must have been registered by the landlord with the local housing authority; and
  • The rent must be fixed by the relevant Court or Rent Tribunal. Either the applicant or the landlord must apply to the Rent Tribunal or the relevant Courts to fix it. Any tenants with agreed rent with the landlord, local authority housing or mortgage or tenant purchase agreements are not covered by this scheme; and
  • The applicant must satisfy a means test.

Amount of Allowance

The level of allowance paid in any case depends on:

  • the difference between the old rent and the new rent, or if the old rent was less than a certain amount, the new rent less that amount. This is the maximum allowance.
    and
  • the weekly means of the tenant.

Maximum Allowance

The maximum amount of Rent Allowance payable in any case is the difference between the weekly rent, as fixed by the relevant Court/Tribunal/Rent Officer, and the old rent (as paid up to 26 July 1982). However, if the old rent was less than a certain amount (currently 13.00) the maximum allowance payable is the new rent less 13.00.

The maximum allowance is payable where the tenant's means are below a certain amount. In the case of a person who is single or widowed, the maximum Rent allowance is payable if his/her weekly means are less than an amount equivalent to the maximum personal rate of State Pension (Contributory) (230.30 from 1/1/2009).

In the case of a person who is married ( see below*), the maximum allowance is payable if his/her means are less than an amount equivalent to the maximum rate of State Pension (Contributory) for a person entitled to an increase for a Qualified Adult (436.60 from 1/1/2009).

* (A married person for the purpose of this allowance is a person whose spouse/partner is living with him/her or who is wholly or mainly maintained by him/her.)

Reduced Rate of Allowance

If the claimant's means are higher than the amounts mentioned above, the allowance is reduced by 50c for every 1 means for the next 200 and Euro for Euro after that. For a single person that is between 230.30 and 430.30. For a married couple that is between 430.30 and 630.30.

Minimum Payment

The minimum allowance payable is currently  1 per week. If the maximum allowance is less than 1, or if an allowance reduced by means is less than 1, no allowance is payable.

Calculation of Amount Payable: Examples

(Based on rates in payment from January 2009)

Example 1

Claimant is single. His rent was 20.00 a week. His rent up to 26/7/82 was 5.00. The Rent Tribunal has now fixed a new rent of 70.00 a week. His sole income is his weekly JA of 206.30.

As his means do not exceed the max. rate of SPC, he is now entitled to the maximum rent allowance calculated as follows:- 70.00 - 13.00 = 57.00

NOTE: Where the Rent prior to 26/7/82 was less than 13.00, you subtract 13.00 from the current rent to calculate the Rent Allowance payable.

Example 2

Claimant is married and in receipt of IB with an increase for her husband i.e. 206.30 + 135.80 = 342.10. She has no other income. Her rent up to 26/7/82 was 6.00. She was paying rent of 19.00 per week. Her new rent has been fixed by the Rent Tribunal at 114.00.

As her means do not exceed the max. married rate of SPC i.e. 436.60 she is entitled to the maximum rate of rent allowance calculated as follows:- 114.00 - 13.00 = 101.00

Example 3

Claimant is single and has weekly means of 452.30. His rent payable up to 26/7/82 was 35.55. His new rent as fixed by the Court is 300.00 weekly.

Maximum Rent Payable - 300.00 - 35.55 = 264.45
(difference between rent at 26/7/82 & current rent)

His means exceed the maximum rate of SPC i.e. 230.30 by 222.00. His rent allowance will accordingly be reduced as follows:-

by 50c for every 1 between 230.30 and 430.30 = 100.00
by Euro 1 for Euro 1 thereafter 
i.e. between 430.30 and 452.30 = 22.00
Total deductions = 122.00

Rent Allowance payable:
264.45 - 122.00 = 142.45

Advantage where other household members are in receipt of a Social Welfare payment.

Where the claimant's means are below the statutory limits (currently 230.30 or 430.30 as appropriate), an advantage is given if there are other household members. The advantage is the difference between the means (rounded) and the limit. Essentially this is the amount by which a person's means are below the prescribed limit. The advantage can be offset against other means assessed for the household.

You disregard 206.30 from the net income of each additional member of the household and then divide the remaining figure by 5 to give the amount which must be deducted in respect of this person

Increases in Rent

There is provision in the 1982/1983 Housing & Private Rented Dwellings act for rents to be reviewed every 5 years. If, following review by the Rent Tribunal/relevant Court, the rent is increased and this has the effect of reducing the claimant's after-rent income below a certain amount, the allowance is increased to bring net income up to this amount.

What counts as means

The rules for the calculation of means are set out in the Social Welfare (Rent Allowance) Regulations, 1991, as amended. The items to be taken into account in assessing means for Rent Allowance are similar as those for other social welfare non-contributory payments (See MEANS ASSESSMENT) but with the following difference:

* the means of other persons (in addition to the claimant's spouse or children) who reside in the household can be taken into account in determining the amount of allowance payable.

How income of other members of the household is assessed.

An allowance can be reduced partly or fully because of the income of other members of the household including the claimant's dependent children.* Where the household member's income is derived from earnings, his/her net income* (i.e. wages/salaries less PAYE, PRSI, superannuation and union dues) is assessed less a certain disregard. ( See below). Where the household member is in receipt of a SW payment which includes an increase for a child dependant, an amount equal to that increase is deducted in respect of each qualified child.

[* A child is regarded as a qualified child if s/he is under 18 years of age and normally resides with applicant, or if s/he is over 18 years and under 22 years and receiving full-time instruction by day at any university, college, school or other educational establishment].

The maximum allowance is first calculated. The net income of other members of the household is then established (by payslips). Net income for this purpose is income after PAYE, PRSI, Superannuation and Union dues.

A disregard of 206.30 is deducted from the net income of each additional member of the household. (This amount of 206.30 is the difference between the single person's means limit of 230.30 and a married person's means limit of 436.60). The resulting sum is then divided by 5, giving the amount which must be deducted in respect of that person.

Assessment of means of other household members.

(based on SW rates payable from January 2009)

Example

a) The tenant is a married woman with joint means (of herself and her husband) of 453.30. The current rate of rent is 156.95 and the rent payable up to 26/7/82 was 25.39

Maximum Rent Allowance;
156.95 - 25.39 = 131.56.

There are 2 other members of the household - a daughter who is working with net income of 220.00 per week and a son who is on JA of 204.80 a week.

The total income of the claimant and her spouse exceeds the max. rate of SPC (436.60) so the amount of rent payable must be reduced.

Reduction - Claimant/spouse (16.70 @ 50c): = 8.35 (A)

Reduction - Daughter: 220.00 - 206.30
= 13.70 divided by 5 = 2.74 (B)

Reduction - Son: 204.80 - 206.30 = NIL (C)

Total Deductions (A)+(B)+(C) = 11.09

Rent Allowance payable:
131.56 - 11.09 = 120.47

PART 2: CLAIMS, INVESTIGATION AND DECISION PROCEDURES

Claims

The Rent Allowance application form (RS1) must be completed in full and signed or marked by the applicant and witnessed as appropriate in all cases. A reference number is allocated to the claim on receipt in Rent Section and the applicant is asked to quote it in any future contact with the Department regarding the Allowance. The required documentation may be sent after the initial claim if not immediately available rather than delaying the claim in order to obtain it. An acknowledgement of claim is issued when the claim is received.

Late Claims

A person is disqualified for payment of Rent Allowance for any period before the date on which the claim is made. However, the claim can be backdated for up to 6 months where the person can prove to the satisfaction of the Deciding Officer or Appeals Officer that s/he satisfied the qualifying conditions during that period and that there was good cause for the delay in making the claim.

Documentation

The applicant has to furnish the Terms of Tenancy, which must be signed by the Landlord or his agent, the Extract from the Housing Authority and Marriage Certificate if married. In 'Succession cases', the Death Certificate may be required.

The rent stated as paid by the tenant must agree with the rent stipulated on the Terms of Tenancy, otherwise it will be regarded as an Agreed Rent and will result in termination of the allowance.

Where a claimant has means other than Social Welfare payments, s/he is required to furnish certified details e.g. payslips, statement of earnings, bank statements etc. This also applies to the earnings of other members of the household who are over 18.

Evidence of attendance at a university, college or school is needed for children aged between 18 years and 22 years if they are included as dependants.

Investigation of Claims

Where it is evident from the details supplied by the applicant that all the qualifying conditions are fulfilled or that one or more is/are clearly not fulfilled, the file is referred immediately to the Deciding Officer for decision.

Where there is doubt about the fulfilment of a condition, further enquiries are made either by correspondence with the applicant or by referring the file to a Social Welfare Inspector for investigation.

Decisions

Claims are decided by Deciding Officers appointed by the Minister under Section 295 of the Social Welfare Act, 1981. A Deciding Officer for Rents purposes must be appointed specifically under this provision. Schedule A of SI 208 of 1991 refers.

A notification of the decision is issued to the applicant, and when claims are disallowed or awarded at a reduced rate, the applicant is given the reason for the disallowance or partial award.

Appeals

A person who is refused Rent Allowance or who is awarded a reduced rate of payment may appeal against the decision to an Appeals Officer.

PART 3: PROCEDURES FOLLOWING AWARD

Payment

Rent Allowance is paid weekly by cheque and covers the period Sunday to Saturday. These cheques must be cashed within 6 months of date of issue.

Payments may be issued to a person other than the claimant if written authorisation is given by the claimant.

Payment after Death

On the death of a person in receipt of Rent Allowance who was married, where the spouse becomes the tenant provided the deceased was in receipt of a Social Welfare pension which included an increase for a qualified adult in respect of the spouse. In such cases, the spouse is entitled to the full married rate of the SW pension for 6 weeks after the death of the claimant. Therefore, for Rent Allowance purposes, the means of the spouse are assessed using the married means limit for the first 6 weeks of the new tenancy.

Note: There is no provision for payment of 6 weeks rent allowance after the death of the tenant. However where the spouse succeeds the tenancy, there is continuity of payment

Duration of Payment

The allowance is paid as long as the applicant remains the tenant of the dwelling and satisfies the conditions.

Payment of Rent Allowance ceases if an increase in means of the household brings the means to a sum exceeding the maximum rate of allowance.

Payment ceases if the tenant surrenders tenancy.

An allowance can be reduced/disallowed if a claimant's accommodation is more than s/he needs.

Maintenance

Stop dates are inserted in the Department's payments system as appropriate e.g. to recalculate entitlements when a child reaches the age of 18 or 22.

Lost Cheques

The claimant should report lost cheques to the Section in writing as soon as s/he becomes aware that loss has occurred.

An application form for a replacement cheque is issued immediately and the original cheque is cancelled. If in order a duplicate cheque is issued without delay, on receipt of the properly completed application form.

See also chapter on " Payments"

Certification of ongoing entitlement

The onus is on the claimant to notify the Department of any changes in circumstances.

A list of events which may affect entitlement is issued with every decision notice as follows:

  • Cessation of entitlement to retain possession of the dwelling
  • Change in Terms of Tenancy
  • Surrender of the tenancy of the dwelling
  • Subletting of the dwelling
  • Change of address
  • Death of any member of the household resulting in cessation of wages, benefit, assistance, pension, or income from any source of any member of the household
  • Commencement or resumption of work by claimant, his/her spouse or any member of the household
  • Marriage or re-marriage of the tenant
  • Qualified child reaching 18 years (or 22 years if in full-time education).

Review

A review is carried out when the Department is notified of any change in circumstances.

Periodic reviews are also carried out to confirm that the qualifying conditions continue to be satisfied.

Suspension of payment

Where a question arises as to whether the conditions for the receipt of Rent Allowance are fulfilled, and initial enquiries fail to establish entitlement, payment may be suspended in whole or in part until the question has been decided.

This will be done if there is reason to believe that:

  • the tenant no longer has entitlement to retain possession of the dwelling;
  • tenancy has been surrendered;
  • the tenant has died;
  • the means of members of the household have increased and the tenant has failed to provide the requested details within a reasonable period of time.
  • The rent is no longer fixed by the Court or Rent Tribunal.
  • There is a new tenancy which has not been registered with the local housing authority.
  • The tenant no longer satisfies the means test.

Last modified:01/07/2010
 

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