Social Housing
Support Overview

Social housing support is housing provided by a local authority or an approved housing body to people who are identified as not having adequate resources to afford housing.

Housing support can be provided in a number of ways:

  1. A rented tenancy in a property owned and managed by the local authority.
  2. A rented tenancy leased (long term leasing) for 10-20 years by the local authority or approved housing body.
  3. Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) where a local authority will make a monthly payment to a private landlord, subject to terms and conditions including rent limits, on a HAP tenant’s behalf.
  4. Rental Accommodation Scheme (RAS) tenancy where the local authority arranges leases with private landlords for homes.
  5. A rented tenancy in homes owned and managed by an approved housing body.
  6. Specific accommodation for people experiencing homelessness, the elderly and those in the Travelling community.
  7. The adaptation of existing local authority homes to meet specific household needs.
  8. Grants for the purpose of increasing accessibility in private homes for those with disabilities.

There are four specific roles for the local authority in working with approved housing bodies on construction project development:

  • To assist with the appraisal of such projects; 
  • Monitor the progress of such projects; 
  • To liaise with approved housing bodies in relation to the allocation of homes; 
  • To monitor the approved housing bodies and the Departments compliance with the availability agreements and related financing. 

Social housing supports are provided through your local city or county council, which is also called your local authority. 

Local authorities can provide: 

  • Housing for rent 
  • Grants or assistance to help you rent or buy a home 
  • Grants or assistance so you can stay in your own home

Differential Rent:

Local authority rents are based on a system called ‘differential rent’. This means that the amount of rent you pay depends on your total household income. 

Housing Assistance Payment (HAP):

HAP is a form of social housing support provided by all local authorities. HAP means that local authorities can provide housing assistance for households who qualify for social housing support, including many long- term rent supplement recipients.

Long-term housing need:

A person is considered to have a long-term housing need when the person may need help with accommodation for the foreseeable future. This need will be assessed by the local authority.

Long-term leasing:

Under the Social Housing Leasing Initiative, a property owner can lease their property to a local authority or housing association who in turn can use this property for social housing. This lease can be for between 10-20 years.

Rental Accommodation Scheme (RAS):

Under the Rental Accommodation Scheme, local authorities draw up contracts with landlords to provide housing for people with a long-term housing need for an agreed term. This is usually for a 4 period of years, but it can be anywhere between 1-10 years. The local authority pays the rent directly to the landlord. You contribute to your rent but you pay this contribution to your local authority, not to your landlord.

Rent Supplement:

A means-tested payment for certain people living in private rented accommodation who cannot afford the cost of their accommodation from their own resources. This is usually for people with a short-term housing need.

Social Housing Support:

Housing, grants and assistance to help with paying rent. The funds are provided by your local authority or by a housing association. Housing associations are also called approved housing bodies or voluntary housing associations. They are independent, not-for-profit organisations. They provide affordable, rented accommodation for people who cannot afford to pay private sector rent or buy their own homes; or for certain groups, such as the elderly or people experiencing homelessness.

Leasing Private Houses:

They use private finance to pay for housing development or to buy property. They also get state funding through local authorities to help provide housing. To become a tenant of a housing association, you must apply through your local authority using the same application form you use for local authority housing.