Rent Supplement is paid to people living in private rented accommodation who
cannot provide for the cost of their accommodation from their own resources. In
general, you will qualify for a Rent Supplement, if your only income is a
social welfare payment and you satisfy the other conditions - see 'Rules'
The amount of Rent Supplement you get will be calculated to ensure that your
income after paying rent does not fall below a minimum level.
If your circumstances change you may no longer qualify for Rent Supplement
or the amount of your payment may change. Read more about Rent Supplement and changes to your
circumstances. You can also read FAQs about Rent Supplement
from the Department of Social Protection.
Rent Supplement limits
Revised rent limits for the Rent Supplement
scheme were announced in June 2016 and came into effect from 1 July 2016.
In view of the reduction of supply in the private rented market and
increasing rents, the Department's approach allows for flexibility where
landlords seek rents over the limits. This applies to existing tenants and to
new Rent Supplement applicants.
If you are making a new Rent Supplement claim, the new rent limits apply
immediately. If you are currently getting Rent Supplement there is no automatic
increase to your rate of Rent Supplement (as you are currently signed up to a
tenancy agreement with your landlord). The new rent limits will apply when your
existing lease expires or when your claim is reviewed. You can request a review
of your Rent Supplement claim by contacting the office dealing with your
Tenants living in Dublin/Cork/Galway or the commuter areas of Kildare/Meath/Wicklow, can avail of the Tenancy Protection Service operated by Threshold. This service provides useful advice on tenancy sustainment and is available from Monday to Friday 9am-9pm by calling FREEPHONE 1800 454 454.
Housing Assistance Payment (HAP)
In 2013 the Government approved a plan for a new Housing
Assistance Payment (HAP). This involves the transfer of responsibility for
recipients of Rent Supplement with a long-term housing need from the Department
of Social Protection to housing authorities (local authorities). The
legislation to implement the HAP is the Housing
(Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2014 (pdf).
HAP is now operational in many housing authorities. Find out where HAP
is in operation. It is expected to be rolled out to remaining housing
authorities by early 2017. Different
rules apply for Rent Supplement depending on whether you live in a HAP area
or in an area where HAP is not yet in operation. See ‘Rules’ below for
Under the HAP process, people assessed by a local authority as having a
housing need will apply for housing support under HAP rather than Rent
Discrimination when letting residential property
legislation applies to lettings and accommodation. Landlords cannot
discriminate against potential tenants on grounds of gender, civil status,
family status, sexual orientation, religion, age, disability, race or
membership of the Traveller community.
Since 1 January 2016, under the Equal Status Acts 2000–2015, you cannot be
discriminated against when renting because you are getting Rent Supplement or
any other social welfare payment, or a Housing Assistance Payment (HAP).This
means that landlords can no longer state when advertising accommodation that
Rent Supplement (or HAP) is not accepted and they cannot refuse to rent you
accommodation because you are getting a social welfare payment. If you feel you
have been discriminated against by a landlord or their agent, you
can find out more about making a complaint under the Equal Status Acts. For
more information about your rights you can contact the the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission.
A new tax relief has been introduced for landlords who rent to tenants
getting Rent Supplement. Read more in our document on Housing
tax credits and reliefs.
Eligibility critieria for Rent Supplement within Housing Assistance Payment
If you live in a HAP area you are only eligible for Rent Supplement if you
are a genuine (bona fide) tenant and meet one of the following conditions:
- You were getting Rent Supplement in the 12 months before the date of your
- You were living in private rented accommodation for at least 6 months
(183 days) of the last 12 months, you could afford the rent at the
beginning of your tenancy and you are unable to continue to pay the rent
because of a substantial change in your circumstances which occurred after
you started renting. You can combine time living in more than one rented
accommodation to satisfy the 6 months (183 days).
- You were living in accommodation for homeless people for at least 6
months (183 days) of the last 12 months. If you have already been assessed
as qualified for social housing support you will be referred to your local
authority to have your housing needs addressed (rather than being assessed
for Rent Supplement).
If you don’t meet these conditions you must contact your local authority
to have your housing needs assessed. If you are eligible for and in need of
housing support you may be able to access housing under the HAP
scheme or local
If you are currently getting long-term Rent Supplement (18 months or more)
and you live in a HAP area you can be asked to apply for social housing support
to your local authority. You must apply within 6 weeks of being asked to do so
(if necessary an extra 6 weeks can be allowed). You may then be transferred to
HAP or to another form of social housing support.
Eligibility criteria for Rent Supplement in areas where HAP is not yet in
You may get Rent Supplement if you have been living for 6 months (183 days)
out of the last 12 months in one, or a combination, of the following:
- Accommodation for homeless people.
- Private rented accommodation. You can combine time living in more than
one rented accommodation to satisfy the 6 months (183 days). You must be
able to show that you could afford the rent at the beginning of your
tenancy and that you could have continued to pay rent but are unable to do
so because of a change in your circumstances which occurred after you
- An institution, for example, a hospital, care home or place of detention.
- Have been assessed by a local authority as being eligible for and in need
of social housing in the last 12 months. If you don't have a housing need
assessment, you must go to the local authority to have your housing need
assessed. The local authority must be in the area that you intend to live
and claim Rent Supplement. Only when you are assessed as eligible for and
in need of housing can you apply for Rent Supplement. Rent Supplement is
not payable while the local
authority is carrying out a housing needs assessment.
Rules for Rent Supplement in both HAP and non-HAP areas
Rent Supplement will only be provided if the accommodation is suitable for
your needs. Rent Supplement is not generally paid if the rent is above the
maximum rent limit set for your county (see ‘Rates’ below for the current
limits and circumstances where these limits may be waived).
You must also:
You won’t qualify for Rent Supplement if you:
- Are in full-time employment or self-employment (30 hours or more a week).
However, if you are assessed as in need of housing under the Rental
Accommodation Scheme and have been out of full-time employment for 12
months or more you may be entitled to the Supplement - see ‘Employment
and Rent Supplement’ below
- Have refused a second offer of local authority accommodation in an
12-month period. In this case, you cannot claim Rent Supplement for 12
- Are leaving local authority housing without reasonable cause.
- Have been excluded from social housing by a local authority for reasons
of good estate management or anti-social behaviour.
- Are attending full-time education. However, if you are getting a Back to
Education Allowance, are participating in the Back to
Education Programme or in the Momentum
Programme you may be entitled to Rent Supplement.
Renting from a parent: You cannot get Rent Supplement to
help you pay rent to your parent if you are living in the family home. If your
parent owns a second property, you will generally not get Rent Supplement for
this property unless you can prove that you are a genuine (bona fide) tenant
Sharing with your landlord: You may be entitled to get Rent
Supplement if you
are living in your landlord’s home. It must be a genuine landlord/tenant
arrangement. Your landlord has to fill in part of the form and provide his or
her PPS number (see 'How to apply' below).
Employment and Rent Supplement
You will not qualify for Rent Supplement if you are in
full-time employment (30 hours or more a week). (In the case of couples, if one
of a couple is in full time employment, both are excluded from claiming Rent
Supplement). Claims from self-employed people are assessed on the individual
circumstances of the case and you may be asked to show that you are working
less than 30 hours a week. If you are working over 30 hours a week in
employment or self-employment or if you are getting the Back to Work Enterprise
Allowance you must be deemed eligible for the Rental
Accommodation Scheme (RAS) by your local authority to continue to get Rent
However, you will be reassessed for Rent Supplement and some of your
additional income including some of your income from employment will be taken
into account. As a result of the reassessment you may or may not continue to
qualify for Rent Supplement. If you do qualify for Rent Supplement you may get
a different rate of Supplement.
Income taken into account for Rent Supplement
- Net income from employment (this is gross income less PRSI and reasonable
travel expenses. A child
dependant aged 17 and under in full-time education does not have their
income from employment assessed as means for Rent Supplement.)
- Social welfare payments (for exceptions - see 'Income not taken into
- Family Income Supplement (FIS)
- Cash income (for example, maintenance)
- All income and the value of all property of which the claimant deprived
themself in order to qualify for SWA
- Capital (for example, property except your own home, savings and
The capital value of property (except your own home), savings and
investments is assessed as follows:
||Weekly means assessed as
||€1 per €1,000
||€2 per €1,000
|Any capital over €40,000
||€4 per €1,000.
Income not taken into account when calculating Rent Supplement
Income from the following sources is disregarded or not taken in account
when calculating the amount of Rent Supplement you qualify for:
- An amount equal to the Supplementary Welfare Allowance
(SWA) rate for your household circumstances
- Foster care payments from the Health Service Executive (HSE)
- Payments for accommodating children under the Child Care Act
- Income from Gaeltacht students
- Grants or allowances from schemes promoting the welfare of blind people
- Money received from charitable organisations, for example, St Vincent de
- Compensation awarded by the Compensation Tribunal in respect of Hepatitis
C contracted from certain blood products, to those who have disabilities
caused by Thalidomide and to those receiving compensation under the
Residential Institutions Redress Board
- Maintenance grants paid by VEC or local authorities for educational
purposes (now replaced by the Student
- Respite Care
- Guardian's Payment (Contributory) and Guardian's Payment
- Fuel Allowance and the Living Alone Allowance
- Pensioners: If you are aged 65 or over (or where one of
a couple is of pensionable age) and have a combined household income
greater than the rate of SWA appropriate to your household circumstances,
the difference between the maximum rate of State
Pension (Contributory) appropriate to your circumstance and the rate of
SWA appropriate to your circumstances is not taken into account.
- Carers' payments: The half-rate Carer's
Allowance is never taken into account.
- If you are getting Carer's Allowance, the amount of
Carer's Allowance above the appropriate SWA rate for your situation (either
the qualified adult rate for a couple or the personal rate of SWA) is not
taken into account. So if you are one of a couple and
getting Carer's Allowance the amount of Carer's Allowance being paid less
the SWA qualified adult rate is not taken into account and if you are
single or a lone parent the amount disregarded is the rate
of Carer's Allowance being paid less the personal rate of SWA.
- Any amount of Carer's Benefit in excess of the
basic SWA rate for your situation (either the qualified adult rate or the
personal rate of SWA) is not taken into account.
- Rehabilitative earnings disregard: A certain amount of
your income from rehabilitative work which is not taken into account. If
you are getting Disability Allowance or Blind Pension, €120 from
rehabilitative training or employment is not taken into account in the
assessment for Rent Supplement. Any earnings over €120 from
rehabilitative training or employment will affect your Rent Supplement. If
you are earning above €120 you can be assessed using whichever disregard
is most in your interest - either the Rehabilitative earnings
disregard or the Additional income disregard (but not both).
- Additional income disregard: A certain amount of your
household income from certain sources is not taken into account. €75 of
any additional household income* above the SWA rate for your
circumstances is not taken into account. Also, 25% of additional
household income over €75 is not taken into account. There is no
upper limit on the amount that can be disregarded.
*Additional household income is income from part-time
employment or part-time self-employment, Family Income Supplement (FIS),
Community Employment (CE), the Tús scheme, JobBridge,the Rural Social
Scheme, Momentum, Part-time Job Incentive Scheme, Skillnets, Work Placement
Scheme, Gateway, Back to Work Allowance, Back to Work Enterprise Allowance
or a FET (formerly FÁS) course. Part of a maintenance payment is also
assessed as additional household income (see below).
If you were getting Rent Supplement before 5 June 2007, you can continue to
have your income assessed using the old income disregards, unless the current
income disregards ensure a more favourable assessment. However, if you do not
claim Rent Supplement for more than 13 weeks you will be assessed using the
current income disregards. (See 'Further
information' below for more information on how income was assessed for Rent
Supplement before 5 June 2007.)
Maintenance and Rent Supplement
Maintenance is assessed as additional household income (see above)
and maintenance payments up to €95.23 per week are assessed in full. The
household income disregard (see above) applies to maintenance payments above
this amount. The reason for this is that the first €95.23 per week of
maintenance payments are considered to be a contribution towards your housing
Example: if your only additional household income is
maintenance, all of your maintenance payment up to €95.23 per week is
assessed in full. The household income disregard of €75 applies to sums above
this, so that any maintenance between €95.23 and €170.23 is not taken into
account. 25% of all maintenance over €170.23 is also not taken into
Your contribution to rent (Household Contribution)
Once the amount of Rent Supplement you qualify for has been worked out, it
will be reduced by a minimum of €30. This is because you must pay at least
€30 a week towards your rent. You may pay more than €30 because you are
also required to contribute any additional assessable means that you have above
the appropriate basic Supplementary Welfare Allowance rate towards your rent.
If you are one of a couple and are claiming Rent Supplement
you must pay at least €40 a week towards your rent.
Any non-dependent household members who are solely dependent on a personal
social welfare payment must also contribute €30. However, if benefit
and privilege has been assessed against your social welfare payment you do
not have to contribute €30. If the non-dependent household members are a
couple their contribution is €40.
A couple over 65 with an income equal to or less than the State Pension
(Contributory) for their situation will contribute €40 a week towards their
rent. A couple who both have State Pensions (Contributory) and no other income
will also contribute €40 towards their weekly rent.
Calculating Rent Supplement
Calculating your Rent Supplement can be difficult. The Department of Social
Protection's representative (formerly known as the Community Welfare Officer)
will decide if you are eligible for Rent Supplement and calculate the amount
you will get. More
information is available on how to calculate Rent Supplement.
Rent Supplement is paid to you weekly or monthly by cheque, Electronic Fund
Transfer or post draft, usually in arrears.
The amount of Rent Supplement that is calculated will generally ensure that
your income, after paying rent, does not fall below a minimum level. This level
is the basic
Supplementary Welfare Allowance rate for your circumstances minus €30 (or
€40 for a couple). You must always pay at least €30 towards your rent.
However, you may pay more depending on your means - see 'Rules' above.
The rent paid to your landlord (that is, your contribution plus your Rent
Supplement) should not be above the maximum rent limit set for your county or
area (this provision can be waived in some circumstances). The maximum rent
limit for your county is set by the Department of Social Protection (DSP).
However, the Community Welfare Office may set lower rates
within these limits. There is a maximum rent limit for each area (see below).
If your actual rent is higher than the local maximum, you may be refused Rent
Cases where rent is over the relevant limit
In some cases Rent Supplement can be paid at the discretion of the DSP staff
administering the scheme where the rent is over the relevant limit:
- If you or a member of your household has special housing needs (for
example, a disabled person in specially adapted accommodation).
- If you will be able to pay the rent yourself within a short period, if,
for example, if you are taking up employment. In this case Rent Supplement
at a higher rate can be paid for a short period of 6-8 weeks.
- If you have additional income to pay the balance yourself. (Rent
Supplement is still based on the maximum rent limit.)
- If there are other exceptional circumstances. (Special provisions apply
if you are at risk of
becoming homeless.) Note also that the Community Welfare Service has
statutory discretionary power to award or increase a Rent Supplement
payment, for example, when dealing with a person who is in danger of
homelessness. This applies both to people getting Rent Supplement and new
applicants. Tenants in Counties Dublin, Kildare, Meath, Wicklow, and Cork
city, can access the Tenancy
Protection Service on 1800 454 454.
Rent Supplement and lease agreements
If, when your Rent Supplement claim is reviewed, the rent you pay is above
the relevant limit and your lease is not due for renewal, you will be expected
to re-negotiate your rent with your landlord. If the landlord insists that the
terms of the current lease are not negotiable and does not reduce the rent to
the new limits the DSP representative will discuss your options with you. These
may include seeking other accommodation. If the rent is in line with local
market rates the limits can be exceeded in some cases.
You can find the
rent limits for Rent Supplement on the Department's website. Note that the
Community Welfare Office may set lower rates within these limits.
sets down that the maximum amounts of Rent Supplement payable for tenants in
voluntary housing developments (funded through the Capital Assistance Scheme)
are €55 for a single person and €60 for a couple. The minimum contribution
set out above also applies (€30 for a single person and €40 for a couple).
How to apply
To apply, fill in an application form
for Rent Supplement (pdf). The Department of Social Protection's
representative (formerly known as the Community Welfare Officer) or local
Citizens Information Service can help you fill in this form.
Part of the form will need to be filled in by your landlord or their agent.
Your landlord will need to provide their tax reference number (normally their
PPS number) to the Department of Social Protection (DSP). If your landlord does
not wish to fill in the form a separate form (SWA
3C) (pdf) is available. If your landlord does not have a tax reference
number, they should state this in writing to the DSP and explain why this is
the case. Your Rent Supplement may not be paid if your landlord has not given
their tax number to the DSP or has not explained why they do not have one.
Another part of the form may need to be filled in by your local authority,
to confirm you are on their housing list and have a housing need (if you are
not exempt from this rule).
You also need to bring the following documents:
- Identity documents for you and your dependants, such as full birth
certificates, passports, driving licence, work permit, immigration (GNIB)
- Documents to show your income and financial situation, such as, pay
slips, P45, P35, P60, bank statements, etc.
- Documents to prove where you live, such as electricity, gas or phone
- Documents relating to your tenancy, such as your rent book, lease or
The Department of Social Protection's representative (formerly known as the
Community Welfare Officer) usually visits you to confirm your circumstances.
Appealing a decision
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
Department of Social Protection's representative (formerly known as the
Community Welfare Officer). You should provide any extra documentation to back
up your case.
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 can refer the appeal to the Social
Welfare Appeals Office. You may request a personal hearing and you can
bring along a representative to help argue your case.
Where to apply
To apply for Rent Supplement you should contact the Department of Social
Protection's representative (formerly known as the Community Welfare Officer)
at your local
office. However in some areas new Rent Supplement applications are
processed by centralised Rent Units. To see if your area is dealt with by a
central Rent Unit you can view the central rent
If you live in one of these areas you can get a rent pack from your local
office. This pack contains detailed information (including a list of
documentation you will need) and all the relevant application forms. You should
read the information in the pack carefully. If you are satisfied that you have
all the necessary documents ready you can forward your application to the
relevant Rent Unit. The processing of your application may be delayed if you do
not supply all the information requested in the pack. The Unit will contact you
if they need any further information. If they do not need any more information
they will tell you when your application will be processed.
A certain amount of your income is not taken into account in the assessment
for Rent Supplement. The income not taken into account is called an income
disregard. The current income disregards came into effect on 5 June
All existing Rent Supplement claims in payment on 5 June 2007 were reviewed
and assessed using both the current income disregards and the old income
disregards. If you would get more Rent Supplement using the old income
disregards (see below), you continued to be assessed using the old income
- You no longer qualify for Rent Supplement or
- You have a break in your claim for more than 13 weeks or
- You have a change in your circumstances. For example, a change of
address, household income, increase or decrease in rent or a change in your
social welfare payment.