SWA - Rent Supplement

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​Table of Contents



1.1 Purpose of Rent Supplement​
1.2 Administration
1.3 Relevant Legislation
1.4 Housing Assistance Payment (HAP)


2.1 Qualifying Conditions following the introduction of the Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) Scheme
2.2 Other Qualifying Conditions
2.3 Disqualification Criteria
3.1 Standard Assessment
3.2 What Counts as Means
3.3 What Does Not Count as Means
3.4 Income from Employment
3.5 Exemption of payment of Income Tax, PRSI and USC for Rent Supplement recipients
3.6 Payments of Rent Supplement when taking up employment
3.7 Income Disregards


        1. Pensioners’ Disregard
        2. Carer’s Allowance Disregard
        3. Half-rate Carer's Allowance Disregard
        4. Additional Income Disregard
        5. Maintenance Payments
        6. Earnings Disregard for persons in receipt of Disability/Blind Pension Payment
        7. Assessment of Property & Savings


4.1 Rent Supplement for Those Returning to Full-Time Employment
4.2 Back to Education Programme
4.3 Asylum Seekers
5.1 Departmental Response to Homelessness & Preventative Policy


1.1 Purpose of Rent Supplement

Rent Supplement is a means-tested payment for certain people living in private rented accommodation who cannot provide for the cost of their accommodation from their own resources, generally due to loss of employment.
Historically, Rent Supplement an avenue for certain tenants to have their long term social housing needs met through the private rented sector. The Housing Assistance
Payment Scheme (HAP) has replaced Rent Supplement’s role in the provision of long term social housing.
Rent Supplement is in the process of reverting to its original role of short-term income support to those who have been made temporarily unemployed. As Rent Supplement reverts to its original intended role, tenancies currently in receipt of support with long term social housing needs are being identified, with these tenancies transferring to HAP.
1.2 Administration

Applications for Rent Supplement can be made to your local Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection (DEASP) Office administering Supplementary Welfare Allowance.
In some areas 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 Central Rent Units List
1.3 Relevant Legislation

  • Chapter 9 of Part 3 and Chapter 3 of Part 10 of the Social Welfare (Consolidation) Act, 2005 (as amended);
  • Part 4 of Schedule 3 of the Social Welfare (Consolidation) Act 2005 Rules as to Calculation of Means, (as amended);
  • Social Welfare (Consolidated Supplementary Welfare Allowance) Regulations 2007 to 2014;
  • Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2014 (HMPA 2014).

1.4 Housing Assistance Payment (HAP)
Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) has replaced Rent Supplement’s role in the provision of long term social housing, with Rent Supplement reverting to its original role of short term income support to those who have been made temporarily unemployed.
The HAP scheme aims to allow all social housing supports to be accessed through the local authorities and to enable people to take up full-time employment and keep their housing support. Read more in our document on HAP and on hap.ie.

Commencement Date

Hap Designated Areas

15 September 2014

Cork County Council; Limerick City and County Council; Waterford City; and County Council.

1 October 2014

South Dublin County Council; Kilkenny County Council; Monaghan County Council; and Louth County Council.

18 December 2014

Homeless households in Dublin City Council; Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council; and Fingal County Council

May 2015

Donegal County Council.

June 2015 2015

Offaly County Council; Carlow County Council; Cork City Council; Tipperary County Council; and Clare County Council.

November 2015

Kildare County Council; Meath County Council; Galway County Council; Mayo County Council; and Sligo County Council.

1 December 2016

Cavan County Council; Kerry County Council; Laois County Council; Leitrim County Council; Longford County Council; Roscommon

1 March 2017

Dublin City Council; Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council; and Fingal County




2.1 Qualifying Conditions following the introduction of the Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) Scheme

To qualify for Rent Supplement, following the introduction of HAP, the Designated Person must be satisfied that, at the time of application, the claimant is a bona fide tenant and;
  • was previously in receipt of a Rent Supplement payment within 12 months of the date of application; or,
  • was residing in private rented accommodation (where at the commencement of the tenancy the person could have reasonably afforded the rent and has experienced a substantial change in his or her circumstances where they are now unable to pay the rent) for a period of 183 days within the preceding 12 months of the date of claim for Rent Supplement.

    Rent Supplement is also available for those persons who have been residing for 183 days or more during the 12 months immediately before the application in an Institution or accommodation for homeless persons as provided under section 10 of the Housing Act 1988, and have not been determined as qualified for social housing support by a housing authority under a social housing assessment pursuant to section 20 of the Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2009.

    Applicants who do not satisfy these conditions will be referred immediately to their local housing authority to have their housing needs assessed. The claimant’s eligibility for social housing support, which includes HAP, will be determined by their respective local authority.

    2.2 Other Qualifying Conditions


    The Designated Person must be satisfied that;

    • The accommodation is suited to the person's needs;
    • The amount of rent being paid is in line with the National Tenancy Sustainment Framework guidelines referencing the prevailing maximum rent limits;
    • The amount of Rent Supplement payable does not exceed €55 per week for single people and €60 per week for other household compositions, where accommodation is provided through the Capital Assistance Scheme

    2.3 Disqualification Criteria

    A person is not entitled to a Rent Supplement if he or she:

    • Is engaged in full-time work, defined as more than 29 hours a week unless the applicant has been deemed as eligible for the Rental Accommodation Scheme by the local housing authority (see Section 4.1);
    • Has a spouse or partner who is engaged in full-time employment;
    • Is engaged in full-time education (see Section 4.2 for exceptions to this rule);
    • Is involved in a trade dispute. However, the dependant spouse and dependent children of a person involved in trade dispute are not excluded from SWA for the period of the strike;
    • Is living in accommodation where the Rent Supplement support provided by the Department is directly or indirectly payable to a local authority;
    • Is living in accommodation where the Rent Supplement support provided by the Department is directly or indirectly payable to the Health Service Executive;
    • Is living in accommodation provided by a body or organisation which provides services on behalf of, or similar to, or ancillary to the Health Service Executive, where that body uses residential care staff in providing such services and also receives a subvention payment from the Minister for Health in respect of that person;
    • Is living in accommodation provided by a voluntary housing body where that body receives a subsidy under the Rental Subsidy Scheme;
    • Is receiving rent allowance (as opposed to Rent Supplement) from the Department of Employment Affairs & Social Protection due to being a tenant in decontrolled rented accommodation;
    • Is admitted to an institution for a period  in excess of 13 weeks;
    • Has failed to make a housing needs assessment application upon request by their CWO, or failed to cooperate with their respective local authority (e.g. has not provided additional documentation requested by the local authority), in making a social housing assessment within the meaning of Section 20 of the Housing  Act 2009;
    • Has vacated local authority accommodation without satisfying the Department's representative that there was good cause for doing so;
    • Has within any continuous 12 month period refused a second offer of accommodation, provided by either a housing authority  or any Body approved for the purposes of Section 6 of the Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act, 1992 (No. 18 of 1992) i.e. the Capital Assistance Housing scheme;
    • Is not lawfully in the State;
    • Has made an application for asylum under the Refugee Act, 1996 and such application is awaiting final decision by the Minister for Justice and Equality and Law Reform;
    • Has made an application under the Aliens Act, 1935 to remain in the State and such application has not been determined.

    Your Community Welfare Officer (CWO) may also decide that Rent Supplement is not payable where s/he has been notified by a housing authority regarding your property’s non-compliance with housing standards. Your accommodation must be able to meet the statutory minimum standards set out in law. These are prescribed in regulations made under Section 18 of the Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions Act) 1992.

    Rent Supplement may also be terminated where your landlord fails to supply the Department with a Tax Reference Number or fails to provide the Department with a reason why s/he has no Tax Reference Number.



    3.1 Standard Assessment

    Rent Supplement is normally calculated to ensure that a person, after the payment of rent, has an income equal to the SWA rate appropriate to their family circumstances less a minimum contribution which recipients are required to pay from their own resources. In general, the standard weekly minimum contribution is €30 for a single adult household and €40 for coupled households.

    Circular 2016 (062-16) provides that the minimum contribution payable under Rent Supplement for single persons on age-related reduced rates of payment, living independently, are reduced from the standard €30 payment to either €20 (for 25 year olds) or €10 (18 to 24 year olds) Similarly, the minimum contribution for couples in this category is reduced from €40 to either €30 or €20 depending on the age profile of the couple

    Many recipients pay more than the minimum contribution because recipients are also required, subject to income disregards, to contribute a portion of any additional assessable means that they have over and above the appropriate basic SWA rate towards their accommodation costs.

    A further minimum contribution is also payable in respect of each non-dependent adult household member. It is custom and practice to reduce the Rent Supplement payable by at least €30 in respect of each non-dependent household member who is in receipt of a Social Welfare payment or has income from employment.

    3.2 What Counts as Means

    A means test examines all your sources of income. The main ‘means’ income, when calculating your rent supplement entitlement, barring any social welfare income, will be from employment or self-employment; this also includes:

    • Community Employment;
    • Back to Education Allowance;
    • Back to Work Allowance;.
    • Working Family Payment;
    • Any additional income from other training and educational opportunities that a person may take part in with the Department

    The means test will also include:

    • The means assessment of the capital value of investments, savings, or value of property other than the claimant's own home.
    • All income and the value of all property of which the claimant has deprived himself/herself in order to qualify for SWA;
    • Maintenance Payments;
    • Any income received in cash, earned or received;
    • The income value that can be determined  for board, food, or lodgings received in part payment of employment.

    Note that there may be some exclusions and disregards for certain Department incentive schemes.

    3.3 What does not Count as Means

    The following items are not counted in the means test for Rent Supplement:

    • Child benefit, including equivalent payments from other EU countries;
    • Mobility Allowance;
    • Guardian's Payment Contributory or Non Contributory;
    • Payments received from the Health Service Executive for foster children;
    • Payments for accommodating children under the Child Care Act
    • Income from Gaeltacht students;
    • Domiciliary Care Allowance;
    • Carer's Support Grant;
    • Grants or allowances arising in pursuance of a scheme promoting the welfare of blind people;
    • Money received from charitable organisations e.g. St. Vincent de Paul;
    • Compensation awarded by the Compensation Tribunal in respect of Hepatitis C contracted from certain blood products; compensation awarded to those who have disabilities caused by Thalidomide and to those receiving compensation under the Residential Institutions Redress Board;
    • Any ex gratia payments made in accordance with recommendations proposed by the Scoping Inquiry into the Cervical-Check Screening Programme and any payments made under the package of support measures established in 2018 for women diagnosed with cervical cancer since 2008;
    • Payments awarded under the Symphysiotomy ex Gratia Scheme, the Lourdes Hospital Redress Scheme 2007 and the Lourdes Hospital Payment Scheme;
    • Awards paid to people following the publication of the Magdalen Commission Report;
    • Payments awarded under the Stardust Victims' Compensation Tribunal;
    • Any payments made by Sport Ireland under the International Carding Scheme;
    • Any payment made by The Northern Ireland Victim and Survivor Service (VSS) to persons identified in the Victims and Survivors (Northern Ireland) Order 2006;
    • Student Grants;
    • Department of Education and Skills 1916 Bursary Fund;
    • Consumer Directed Home Support (CDHS);
    • Back to Work Family Dividend;
    • Any payment made as part of the School Transport Grant for Children with Special Educational Needs;
    • Any amount to a maximum of €7,000 per annum from payments made by Uversity Higher Education Scholarship for Adult Learners;
    • 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 not 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. 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;
    • Disability Allowance (DA) and Blind Pension (BP) earnings disregard: €120 of your income from work is not taken into account, if you are getting Disability Allowance or Blind Pension. Any earnings over €120 from training or employment will affect your Rent Supplement. If you are earning above €120 you can be assessed using whichever disregard is of greatest benefit to you - either the DA and BP earnings disregard or the Additional income disregard (but not both);
    • Additional income disregard: Which provides for up to €75 of any additional household income above the SWA rate for your circumstances may not be taken into account. The disregard also provides for 25% of additional household income over €75 is not taken into account (there is no upper limit on the 25% that can be disregarded).

    3.4 Income from Employment

    Gross income less PRSI and reasonable travel expenses is taken into account for the means test. Other necessary expenses may be allowed in the case of self-employment.
    Subject to the conditions of the scheme, a claimant may work up to 29 hours per week in insurable employment and still qualify for rental support; i.e., they are deemed to be in part-time employment allowing them to retain their Rent Supplement entitlement. A claimant may also work more than 29 hours per week, i.e., deemed to be in full-time employment, if they have been determined as eligible for the Rental Accommodation Scheme. Confirmation of eligibility to RAS is made by the respective local authority.

    3.5 Rent Supplement Support is Exempt from PAYE, PRSI and USC

    Rent Supplement payments, including increases for dependant adults or children and other allowances paid with the payment, are fully exempt from income tax, PRSI and USC.

    3.6 Payment of Rent Supplement when Taking up Employment

    Where entitlement of Rent Supplement is lost due to taking up employment a person will continue to be entitled to the supplement for a period of up to 30 days after starting work or until they receive their first wage / salary payment, whichever is the earlier.

    3.7 Income Disregards

    The following are the principal income disregards which apply in the calculation of means for Rent Supplement purposes:

      • Pensioner Disregard;
      • Carer's Allowance Disregard;
      • Half-rate Carer's Allowance Disregard;
      • Additional Income Disregard;
      • Earnings Disregard for persons in receipt of Disability Allowance/Blind Pension;
      • Assessment of Property & Savings.

    For persons participating in approved training courses, any lunch or travel allowances paid are also disregarded. Additionally, certain training courses now provide childcare allowances to participants, these are also disregarded.

    3.7.1 Pensioners’ Disregard

    A special income disregard exists for those aged 65 years or over. Any additional income equal to the difference between the maximum rate of State Pension (Contributory) and the Supplementary Welfare Allowance appropriate to his or her circumstances is disregarded.
    This disregard ensures that, say for, any single person aged 65 or over with income equivalent to the value of the maximum rate of State Pension (Contributory) should only make the minimum contribution of €30 per week towards their rent. Similarly, a pensioner couple, who both receive the State (Contributory) Pension at the maximum rate with no other income, would contribute €40 per week towards their housing cost.

    3.7.2 Carer's Allowance Disregard

    Rent Supplement provides for a disregard of income derived from Carer's Allowance. In the case of a couple, where either spouse is a recipient of Carer's Allowance, the amount to be disregarded is the rate of Carer's Allowance in payment less the SWA adult dependant rate.
    In the case of a single person or a Lone Parent in receipt of Carer's Allowance, the amount disregarded is the rate of Carer's Allowance in payment less the personal rate of SWA.

    3.7.3 Half-Rate Carer's Allowance Disregard

    From 27th September 2007, all income received in respect of half rate Carer's Allowance made under Section 24 of the SW Pensions Act 2007 is disregarded in full.

    3.7.4 Additional Income Disregard

    The additional income disregard is applied to income received / earned by an individual which is in excess of the appropriate SWA rate for the individual’s circumstances. This disregard ensures that income from employment will be retained in part (and sometimes in full) and not be required to ‘contribute towards the person’s rental costs.
    The additional income disregard was introduced with effect from 6th June 2007; the rules to the calculation are as follows:

    • Disregard the first €75 of additional income in excess of SWA rate;
    • Disregard 25% of additional income in excess, the combined appropriate SWA Rate plus €75 initially disregarded;
    • There is no upper limit on the amount that can be disregarded.

    Additional income is the amount of income in excess of the SWA rate, applicable to household circumstances and includes income derived from:

      • Part-time employment or part-time self-employment (under 30 hours per week);
      • Full-time employment or full-time self-employment (30 hours or over per week) where the claimant is accepted as in need of accommodation under the Rental Accommodation Scheme;
      • Any employment or approved training scheme e.g. CE, BTWA, BTWEA or FET course;
      • Working Family Payment;
      • Maintenance Payments in excess of €95.23.

    3.7.5 Maintenance Payments

    The first €95.23 per week of maintenance payments is assessable in full for the purposes of the Rent Supplement Scheme.

    Any maintenance payments in excess of €95.23 per week can use the additional income disregard outlined in section 3.7.4.This allows for the first €75 per week in excess of €95.23 maintenance to be disregarded in full. Any maintenance payments in excess of €170.23 (€95.23 plus €75) also attract the 25% additional income disregard.


    3.7.6 Disability Allowance (DA) and Blind Pension (BP) earnings disregard:  

    Up to €120 of earnings from training or part time employment can be disregarded if you are getting Disability Allowance or Blind Pension. This disregard cannot be used together with 'the additional income disregard' as set out in section 3.7.4. Only one of the disregards can be applied, the officer dealing with your case will apply whichever is the most beneficial for your circumstances.

    3.7.7 Assessment of Property & Savings

    Capital (savings and investments) and the value of property owned but not personally used or enjoyed are assessed as means. Where capital or property is assessed on this basis, any income received from its use (e.g. interest on savings, dividends from shares, rent from property let) is not assessed as cash income. Instead, the following formula is used to establish weekly means:

    Capital Amount

    Assessment Rate

    First €5,000


    Next €10,000

    €1 per €1,000

    Next €25,000

    €2 per €1,000

    Any capital over €40,000

    €4 per €1,000




    4.1 Rent Supplement for those returning to full-time employment

    Generally, Rent Supplement support is withdrawn where a person or their spouse/partner is in full-time employment. However, existing claimants may be able to retain their Rent Supplement if they are deemed by a local authority to be eligible to participate in the Rental Accommodation Scheme (RAS).

    The Rental Accommodation Scheme is administered by local housing authorities under the aegis of the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government. Its purpose is to provide accommodation from the private rented market or through other social housing measures to persons with long term housing needs. You should contact your local housing authority if you want to be considered as eligible for the scheme.

    Where a person is considering the take up of an opportunity with:          

      • the Back to Work Enterprise Allowance Scheme;
      • the Youth Employment Support Scheme (YESS);
      • the Short Term Enterprise Allowance;
      • the Part-time Job Incentive Scheme;
      • the Community Employment Programme;
      • Tús;
      • Job Plus; or
      • Any other scheme from time to time that is operated by the State which offers a person a pathway back into the work place.

    they should discuss their situation with their Community Welfare Officer as soon as possible.

    4.2 Back to Education Programme (BTEA)

    People in full-time education are generally excluded from receipt of Rent Supplement. 
    For those people participating in approved courses under the Back to Education Allowance Scheme (BTEA**) they may retain their Rent Supplement support assuming they still meet the other conditions of the scheme.

    People are advised to apply for Rent Supplement even if they have not been previously getting support and are considering full-time education as a pathway back into the workplace and require help with expected rent.

    If a course is ‘non BTEA’ approved the customer is advised to discuss their situation with their Community Welfare Officer prior to starting / applying for the course.

    ** BTEA is payable to people participating in approved second or third level courses.  Income from BTEA is fully assessable under the means test and is not eligible for the additional income disregard. However, recipients of BTEA who have income from another source (e.g. part-time employment) may qualify for the additional income disregard (see Section 3.7).

    4.3 Asylum Seekers

    In general, asylum seekers are not allowed to work while their claim for asylum is being processed. However, asylum seekers who arrived in the State on or before 26 July 1999 and have been waiting for a final determination on their claim for asylum for 12 months or more have been granted permission to seek employment.
    Entitlement to Rent Supplement is assessed under the standard assessment rules where an asylum seeker in this category secures employment.




    Rent Supplement support is subject to a limit on the amount of rent that an applicant can apply for. The maximum amount of rent payable is set out under Schedule 1 of SI 412/2007.

    Support can be refused where the rent payable to the landlord is in excess of the maximum rent limits set out in Schedule 1 of SI 412/2007. The limits are established by area and for a set number of household family compositions.

    The prescribed maximum rent limits do not apply to households which consist of family compositions or sizes which are not set out under Schedule 1 of SI 412/2007: for example, there is no prescribed rent limit in respect of a household consisting of a family with 4 or more children.

    SI 412/07
    provides that entitlement to Rent Supplement shall be just and proper having regard to the nature, character and location of the residence. This means that a DEASP staff administering the scheme:

      • Have the authority to set limits below the provided maximums for differend areas in their locality; and,
      • When making decisions in respect of a non-prescribed household type, they must be satisfied that the rent payable is appropriately benchmarked to the maximum limits and local market conditions

    Under the National Tenancy Sustainment Framework (NTSF), DEASP staff administering the scheme can provide additional financial support where:

      • A landlord increases / provides a rent above the prevailing maximum rent limit; or,
      • If you or a member of your household requires specially adapted accommodation due to a disability.

    With respect to all other cases, any person who is having difficulty with their Rent Supplement, for whatever reason, is advised to contact their local CWS Officer as soon as possible.

    In certain limited circumstances, individuals may make additional payments themselves above the prevailing rent limit provided that they have additional income in excess of their standard social welfare entitlement.

    For those properties funded by Capital Assistance Scheme the amount of Rent Supplement provided cannot exceed €55 per week for single people and €60 per week for other household compositions.

    Last modified:23/07/2019

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