Department of Social Protection publishes review of the maximum rent limits


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The Department of Social Protection has today (27 March 2015) published a review of the maximum rent limits under the Rent Supplement scheme. One of the key messages of the review is that Rent Supplement continues to play a vital role in housing families and individuals, with the scheme supporting more than 70,000 people this year at a cost of €298 million.

The review finds that increasing rent limits at this time could potentially add to further rental inflation in an already distressed market, affecting not alone Rent Supplement recipients, but lower-income workers and students. Between the Rent Supplement scheme administered by the Department of Social Protection and the Rental Accommodation Scheme administered by the Department of the Environment, the State accounts for a third of the private rented market. This means that the State is a very significant player in the sector, and the review notes that the Department of Social Protection therefore has a responsibility not alone to Rent Supplement recipients but also to the market as a whole, including all those in private accommodation.

Consequently, the review finds that increasing the rent limits would have several potentially negative effects, including: 

  • Providing an impetus for current Rent Supplement landlords to renegotiate their lease agreements to the new limits, impacting on all existing recipients; and
  • Creating new rental floors for all properties in the sector, meaning rent increases for those not in receipt of Rent Supplement. These would include many individuals and families who would struggle with such increases, such as low-income workers and students.  

In light of the review’s findings, and in line with its recommendations, the Department will instead continue to allow for flexibility in assessing customers’ accommodation needs through the National Tenancy Sustainment Framework. Under this approach, each tenant’s circumstances are considered on a case-by-case basis, and rents can be increased above prescribed limits if deemed appropriate. Community Welfare officers who administer the Rent Supplement scheme have a statutory discretionary power to award or increase a supplement for rental purposes, for example, when dealing with applicants who are risk of losing their tenancy or in danger of homelessness. This approach has already assisted over 1,000 people to retain their rented accommodation.

In addition, the Department in conjunction with Threshold operates an Interim Tenancy Sustainment Protocol in the Dublin and Cork areas where supply is most acute. The primary objective of the Protocol is to ensure a speedy intervention to ensure that families at immediate risk of losing their tenancy get rapid assistance.

The Department will continue to monitor the measures in place to ensure that the appropriate supports continue to be provided for Rent Supplement recipients.

The review points out that the main cause of difficulty for people renting or seeking to rent at this time is the reduced availability of affordable private rented accommodation. The Government will deliver significantly increased supply of social and affordable housing through the Construction 2020 Strategy and the Social Housing Strategy. In the short-term, the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government will bring forward measures to achieve greater rent certainty for tenants.

The report, “Maximum Rent Limit Analysis and Findings”, is available on www.welfare.ie. Click here to view the full report.

 

ENDS
Department of Social Protection
27 March 2015

 

 

Last modified:27/03/2015