*Cllr PJ Ryan. Photograph: Gary Collins

Criticism has been levelled at the Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) which was described as “virtually useless” by Cllr PJ Ryan last week.

Individuals on Clare County Council’s housing list are eligible for HAP which provides assistance for them to pay their rent in private accommodation. It is up to the applicant to source private rented accommodation and the tenancy agreement remains a private agreement between the tenant and their landlord.

In general, under the Residential Tenancies Acts 2004-2015, all private residential tenancies must be registered with the Residential Tenancies Board. Under the HAP scheme, local authorities pay landlords directly by the last Wednesday of every month with tenants paying a weekly rent contribution to the local authority, based on their income and ability to pay, further information on differential rent.

Cratloe councillor PJ Ryan at the April meeting of the local authority sought a list of available one and two bedroom Council owned houses plus plans for extra builds and the amount of personnel on the housing list.

647 (two bed) and 205 (one bed) Council houses are occupied at the moment with 26 (two bed) and 13 (one bed) vacant. Senior executive officer, Siobhan McNulty revealed, “It is intended to build 69 x2 bedroom properties in the current approved capital schemes. At the time of this reply there are a total of 2,683 households on the housing list comprising of 3,679 adults and 2,227 children. This figure includes all applicants on the transfer list; the net number of households is 1,180 comprising of 1,499 adults and 829 children. The housing need of 1,503 households (2,180 adults and 1,398 children) is currently met”.

“HAP is virtually useless at the minute. The local authority has a duty to provide this type of accommodation. We’ve a huge amount of land especially in my own electoral area, the sooner we get back to building social housing the better or at the very least a mix of social and affordable housing. HAP is a useless item at the minute, the amount of people that get turned down when they request it is astonishing. There is no properties available,” Cllr Ryan replied.

McNulty was not satisfied to see the payment scheme criticised by Cllr Ryan. “At the moment the availability of property is the issue, there is a significant number of people dealt with by HAP, it has significant value to the economy and people who otherwise would have no other access to accommodation,” she said.

According to the Independent representative, people looking for homes have been shot down by landlords as soon as they mention HAP. “I don’t agree that HAP is as efficient as you make out. I can bring you 30 people who spent months and weeks looking for accommodation and once they mentioned HAP to landlords they were turned down”.

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If you’re here, you care about County Clare. So do we. Did you rely on us for Covid-19 updates, follow our election coverage, or visit The Clare Echo every week for breaking news and sport? The Clare Echo invests in local journalism and we want to safeguard its future in our county. By becoming a subscriber you are supporting what we do, will receive access to all our premium articles and a better experience, while helping us improve our offering to you. Subscribe to clareecho.ie and get the first six months for just €3 a month (less than 75c per week), and thereafter €8 per month. Cancel anytime, limited time offer. T&Cs Apply. www.clareecho.ie.

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