Rental Accommodation Scheme (RAS)
The Rental Accommodation Scheme (RAS) is an initiative introduced to cater for the accommodation needs of persons who are in receipt of rent supplement, normally for more than 18 months, and who have a long-term housing need (excluding asylum seekers or other non-nationals who do not have leave to remain in the State permanently and persons in receipt of the back to education allowance). The scheme is being administered by local authorities and is intended to provide an additional source of good quality rented accommodation for eligible persons to enhance the response of local authorities to meeting long-term housing need.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the main features of the scheme?
Local authorities will enter contractual arrangements with accommodation providers to secure the medium to long-term availability of private rented accommodation for the RAS.
While different contract types may be entered [see below] they will have the following main features in common:
- The local authority will pay the full rent to the landlord on behalf of the tenant
- The Residential Tenancies Act 2004 will govern the relationship between the landlord and the tenant
- The landlord must be tax compliant
- The property must meet minimum standards for private rental accommodation as determined by the local authority and
- The landlord must have registered, or agree to register the tenancy with the Private Rented Tenancies Board (PRTB) by completing the form available on the Board's website.
How will the RAS work?
The RAS will involve a three-way relationship between;
- The local authority and the landlord
- The landlord and the tenant
- The tenant and the local authority
In general, as a first step, the local authority will seek to enter a contractual arrangement with the accommodation provider to make housing available to the RAS for an agreed term (other arrangements may also exist). The terms of this contract will be negotiated between the two parties.
The accommodation may be an existing property or new build. The local authority will guarantee the rent on behalf of the tenant and will undertake to make the full payment directly to the landlord.
Secondly, the local authority will nominate a RAS recipient to the accommodation who signs a residential tenancy agreement with the landlord. The nominee could be an existing tenant of the property who currently receives rent supplement and is eligible for the RAS. The local authority will be party to this agreement as guarantor of the rent.
Finally, the RAS recipient and the local authority agree that the local authority will make payments to the landlord on the recipient's behalf.
Rent supplement allowances
If you are living in private rented accommodation in Ireland and receive a social welfare or Health Service Executive payment, you may qualify for rent supplement.
The scheme is administered by the Department of Social Protection under their Supplementary Welfare Allowance Scheme. The Citizens Information website also provides details of the Rent Supplement Scheme and a comprehensive guide to renting a home in Ireland.
Income tax relief on rent
If you do not qualify for rent supplement you may qualify for income tax relief on rent paid for private accommodation. This relief may also be available for rent on premises outside of Ireland. To apply contact your local tax office.
How will rent levels be determined?
Rent levels will be determined by negotiations between the landlord and the local authority and will reflect local market conditions.
The rent may not exceed the current social welfare allowance (SWA), rent supplement rent level in the area for each type of household (single parents, family households of various size etc). These rent levels will act as an upper limit in negotiations between local authorities and landlords.
However, local authorities will seek a reduction in the current rent level in return variously for:
- The landlord not having to collect rents for the duration of the RAS contract
- The landlord not having to fill vacancies (advertise and interview prospective tenants) for the duration of the RAS contract
- The fact that the average yield across the private rented sector is less than a full year’s rent due to vacancies/tenant turnover
- The very bankable asset that a guaranteed fixed-term RAS rent payment represents and
- Guaranteed prompt payment by a state agency.
Information for landlords
The Rental Accommodation Scheme (RAS) is an initiative introduced to cater for the accommodation needs of persons who are in receipt of rent supplement, normally for more than 18 months, and who have a long-term housing need (excluding asylum seekers or other non-nationals who do not have leave to remain in the state permanently, students and persons in receipt of rent supplement as a “back to work” incentive). The scheme is being administered by local authorities and is intended to provide an additional source of good quality rented accommodation for eligible persons to enhance the response of local authorities to meeting long-term housing need.
What contractual arrangements will exist between the landlord/agent and the local authority?
Model agreements have been developed for use with the scheme and will form the basis for contract negotiation between the landlord and the local authority.
Several forms of contractual arrangements between landlords/developers, local authorities and tenants may exist under the RAS. In the main these will fall broadly into three types of arrangement.
- Availability type arrangements between landlords and local authorities to secure medium to long-term availability of accommodation (with local authority having nomination rights to accommodation);
- Tenancy by tenancy arrangements with landlords to meet short-term accommodation requirements (local authority guarantees rent payment only for term that a specified tenancy is in existence)
- Long-term Public Private Partnership / Part V Local Government Planning and Development Act 2000 type arrangements between developers and local authorities to secure long-term availability of accommodation.
Standard forms of contract form the contractual basis for arrangements between landlords, tenants and local authorities. The form of contract entered will set out the general responsibilities of the three parties. Within certain parameters local authorities will be able to negotiate the conditions under which accommodation providers make their properties available for the RAS. Local authorities will provide prospective RAS landlords with further information in relation to the form of the contractual arrangement it will be seeking to enter.
Landlord and tenant relationship and responsibilities of landlord
The key “landlord and tenant” relationship remains between the property owner and the former rent supplement recipients. The local authority will act as broker or agent on behalf of the tenant.
As such, the landlord will retain responsibility for:
- Insurance – property, landlord’s contents and public liability
- Routine maintenance/repair and replacement of equipment and
- Dealing with breaches of the tenant’s obligations to the landlord should they arise
Deposits and damage to property
No deposits will be paid under the RAS as a contractual arrangement will exist between the landlord and the local authority. However, where damage is caused to property, which is above routine wear and tear, the housing authority may be willing to guarantee the equivalent of up to one month’s rent towards the cost of repair/replacement. The details of this will be the subject of negotiation.
How to become involved in the RAS?
Landlords with eligible SWA rent supplement tenants will be approached by the relevant local authority and invited to participate in the RAS, subject to meeting the eligibility criteria.
All existing eligible SWA rent supplement tenants are to be transferred to RAS. Where their existing landlords do not wish to participate in the RAS, alternative properties will be secured.
If you do not currently have a SWA rent supplement tenant but are interested in participating in the RAS please send your contact details and those of your property – (address, number of bedrooms/bed space etc) – to the:
Rental Accommodation Scheme
Mayo County Council
Tel: 094 9064510
Information for recipients of RAS
This scheme is for people who are receiving rent supplement, usually for more than 18 months, and who need long-term housing. The scheme is being run by local authorities. It will provide additional, good quality rented accommodation for people receiving rent supplement and it will help local authorities to provide long-term housing for people who need it.
How will the RAS work for Recipients?
Under the RAS your local authority will assist you in finding suitable accommodation and will pay rent to the landlord directly. You will still contribute to the rent but you will pay it to the local authority, not your landlord. Your rent contribution may be based on your local authority’s differential rent scheme.
How will the RAS benefit you?
The RAS will give you long-term housing security. It will also give you access to a range of housing supports. The RAS will also lead to improvements in the quality and standards of private rented accommodation. Finally, if you get a job you can stay in the scheme but you will have to contribute more towards the rent.
How do I qualify for the RAS scheme?
You will qualify for the scheme if you receive a rent supplement under the Supplementary Welfare Allowance Scheme and you are assessed by the local authority to have a long-term housing need. People with short-term needs will continue to receive rent supplement.
Who does not qualify for RAS?
- Asylum seekers
- Non-nationals who do not have leave to remain in the State permanently
- Those in receipt of Back to Education Allowance
Will I have to move to new accommodation?
Local authorities will make agreements with private landlords to provide accommodation on a medium to long-term basis. You may transfer to the RAS in your current accommodation if:
- the quality of your current accommodation meets your local authority’s standards
- your landlord is registered with the Private Residential Tenancies Board
- your landlord agrees to move to the RAS, and
- your landlord is tax compliant
Otherwise your local authority will offer you new accommodation.
When will I get accommodation?
As soon as possible. In some cases, where the local authority has suitable accommodation available, this will happen quite quickly. If suitable accommodation is not available, your local authority will make every effort to house you as soon as possible. In the meantime, as long as you still qualify, you may stay in your current accommodation and continue to receive rent supplement.
Can I refuse an offer of accommodation?
If you are offered accommodation under the RAS scheme, you can refuse it. However, if you refuse two offers of housing within a set period, you will not be entitled to rent supplement for a period of twelve months. Your local authority will make sure that any accommodation offered to you will suit your needs and meet their housing standards.
Can I still apply for local authority housing?
As RAS is now a social housing support, your housing need is met and you will no longer remain on the main social housing waiting list.
Does the RAS affect my rights under the Residential Tenancies Act 2004?
The Residential Tenancies Act 2004 protects the rights of private rented sector tenants after a period of six months. The RAS scheme will not affect your rights under this law.
For further information please contact:
Rental Accommodation Scheme
Mayo County Council
Tel: 094 9064510