Thursday, January 5, 2017

How does the Housing Assistance Payment work?

Question

How does the Housing Assistance Payment work?


Answer

The Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) is a form of social housing support for people with a long-term housing need. It is administered by local authorities and will eventually replace long-term Rent Supplement. You must be on the local authority’s housing list (which means that you qualify for social housing support) to be eligible for HAP.


HAP is being introduced in phases. From March 2017 the final phase will bring it fully into operation in the last three local authority areas – all in Dublin.
Under the HAP scheme, you find your own private rented accommodation. Although the local authority administers HAP, you will not be a local authority tenant. The rental agreement will be between yourself and the landlord. This means that you will have certain rights and obligations, as will your landlord.

The rent must be within the HAP rent limits, which are based on your household size and the rental market in your area. Additional flexibility is provided where a household cannot find suitable accommodation within the HAP rent limits. The Homeless HAP Pilot in Dublin offers further flexibility for homeless people.  The local authority will pay your landlord directly and you will pay a differential rent to the local authority. This means that the amount of rent is based on your income and your ability to pay. If you are getting a social welfare payment at a post office, you must pay the local authority through the Household Budget Scheme.

If you take up a job or increase your working hours, you will still be eligible for HAP, provided that you meet the other conditions of the scheme.  People who are on the housing list and currently getting Rent Supplement will be transferred to HAP on a phased basis. If you are on the housing list, living in a HAP area and getting Rent Supplement, you can now apply for HAP. Detailed booklets and other information about HAP are available on housing.gov.ie.

Further information is available from the Citizens Information Centre below.

Know Your Rights has been compiled by Boyle Citizens Information Centre which provides a free and confidential service to the public. Tel: 0761 07 6330
Address: Elphin Street, Boyle, Co. Roscommon

Information is also available online at citizensinformation.ie and from the Citizens Information Phone Service - 0761 07 4000

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Buying goods online

Question
I have ordered a few presents from a Belgian website. Can I return them if I’m not happy with them when they arrive?

Answer 

Online purchases within the EU are covered by the EU Directive on Consumer Rights. Under this Directive you are entitled to a cooling-off period of 14 days. During the cooling-off period, you can cancel distance contracts such as online purchases without giving a reason and without incurring charges or penalties, other than possible charges incurred in returning the goods.



The 14-day cooling-off period begins on the day that you receive the goods.

Upon cancellation, the distance seller is obliged to repay you within 14 days, including delivery costs. If you chose a more expensive type of delivery than the seller’s cheapest standard delivery, you are only entitled to be refunded the cost of the cheaper delivery type.
The seller can withhold the repayment until the goods are returned or until you supply evidence that you have sent the goods back.

You must send the goods back within 14 days of informing the seller of the cancellation. You have to pay for the cost of returning them, unless the seller did not inform you before you ordered the goods that you would have to bear the cost.

The seller should have provided you with confirmation of the contract, as well as  information on aftersales and guarantees, how to cancel the contract and a postal address for complaints. If the seller did not provide you with information on your right to cancel, the cooling-off period can be extended by 12 months.

Cancellation may not be accepted in certain cases, for example, if the goods were made especially for you.

Further information is available from the European Consumer Centre and the Citizens Information Centre below.

Know Your Rights has been compiled by Boyle Citizens Information Centre which provides a free and confidential service to the public. Tel: 0761 07 6330
Address: Elphin Street, Boyle, Co. Roscommon

Information is also available online at citizensinformation.ie and from the Citizens Information Phone Service - 0761 07 4000

Monday, December 12, 2016

Tenants with landlords living abroad


Question
Our landlady lives in Spain and we pay rent into her bank account. Is it true that we need to collect the tax she is liable for?

Answer 
Yes, if you pay rent directly to a landlord (or landlady) who lives abroad, you must deduct tax from the rent and account for it to Revenue, whether by paying it to Revenue or by reducing your tax credits. You deduct the tax at the standard rate (20% at present) from the gross amount of rent that you pay. This deduction is not your tax relief – it is tax payable to Revenue from your landlady's income.

Say, for example, you pay gross monthly rent of €1,500 directly to your landlady. The amount of tax to deduct is 20% of €1,500, which is €300. Subtract this from the gross rent to get net monthly rent of €1,200. You pay this to your landlady. The amount due to Revenue is the €300 per month that you deducted. (The situation is different for a tenant who pays rent through an agent to a landlord living abroad. In this situation, you do not deduct tax from the rent. The landlord’s collection agent must account for it in an annual tax return.)
You must account to Revenue for the tax that you deduct from the gross rent. If you fail to deduct the tax and account for it, this will mean that you (not your landlady) will be liable for any tax that should have been deducted.

If you pay tax under PAYE, you can account for it by reducing your tax credits and Standard Rate Cut-Off Point. You can notify your local Revenue Office and ask them to arrange this. Alternatively, you can make a tax return on Form 12 (pdf) and pay the retained amount to Revenue.

If you pay tax under self-assessment, you should include the details of your rent with your annual return on Form 11 (pdf). A notice of assessment will then issue to you, showing your reduced tax credits.

At the end of the year you must give your landlady a completed Certificate of Income Tax Deducted - Form R185 (pdf).

Further information is available from the Citizens Information Centre below.
Know Your Rights has been compiled by Boyle Citizens Information Centre which provides a free and confidential service to the public. Tel: 0761 07 6330
Address: Elphin Street, Boyle, Co. Roscommon

Information is also available online at citizensinformation.ie and from the Citizens Information Phone Service - 0761 07 4000

Monday, December 5, 2016

Update Public holidays at Christmas

Know Your Rights: Public holidays at Christmas
December 2016
Question
I work full-time, Monday to Friday. What days off will I get at Christmas?


Answer 
Christmas Day (25 December), St Stephen’s Day (26 December) and New Year’s Day (1 January) are public holidays every year.


In 2016 Christmas Day falls on a Sunday and St Stephen's Day falls on a Monday. New Year's Day 2017 falls on a Sunday.

Where a public holiday falls on a weekend, you do not have any automatic legal entitlement to have the next working day off work. This means that, for example, Tuesday 27 December 2016 is not a public holiday. Your employer can require you to attend work on that day. Your public holiday entitlement for Christmas Day will be one of the following:

·         A paid day off within a month of the public holiday
·         An additional day of annual leave
·         An additional day's pay

Under the Organisation of Working Time Act 1997, you may ask your employer, at least 21 days before a public holiday, which of the alternatives will apply to you. Your employer should respond to you at least 14 days before the public holiday. In practice, many employers will give employees Tuesday 27 December and Monday 2 January off in lieu of Christmas Day and New Year’s Day – but it is important to remember that this is not an automatic entitlement.

You can find out more about public holidays in the Explanatory Booklet on Holidays and Public Holidays (pdf) which is available from the Workplace Relations Commission website, workplacerelations.ie.
If you do not get your public holiday entitlement, you may make a complaint under the Organisation of Working Time Act within 6 months of the dispute or complaint occurring. You must use the online complaint form available on workplacerelations.ie.

Further information is available from the Citizens Information Centre below.
Know Your Rights has been compiled by Boyle Citizens Information Centre which provides a free and confidential service to the public. Tel: 0761 07 6330
Address: Elphin Street, Boyle, Co. Roscommon

Information is also available online at citizensinformation.ie and from the Citizens Information Phone Service - 0761 07 4000

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Know Your Rights: Christmas Bonus

Question: 
I’m getting a social welfare payment. Will I get a Christmas Bonus?
Answer: 
The Christmas Bonus is paid to people getting a long-term social welfare payment. Long-term social welfare payments include the following:
• State Pensions and Widow’s/Widower’s/Surviving Civil Partner’s PensionsInvalidity Pension, Blind Pension, Disability Allowance, Carer’s Allowance, Carer’s Benefit, Domiciliary Care Allowance and guardian’s paymentsJobseeker’s Transitional payment, One-Parent Family Payment, Farm Assist, Deserted Wife’s Benefit and AllowanceCommunity Employment, Rural Social Scheme, Tús, Gateway, Back to Work Enterprise Allowance and Job InitiativeBack to Education Allowance (BTEA), VTOS and Further Education and Training (FET) training allowance (people coming from jobseeker's payments must have been on their payment and/or BTEA or VTOS or FET training allowance for 15 months)
For Jobseeker’s Allowance or Basic Supplementary Welfare Allowance, you must be getting the payment for 15 months to get a Christmas Bonus.
In 2016 the Christmas Bonus will be 85% of your normal weekly payment (including the Living Alone Increase, the Island Allowance and the Over-80 Increase). Fuel Allowance is not included when calculating the Christmas Bonus. The minimum Christmas Bonus payment is €20. 
For Domiciliary Care Allowance (DCA), which is paid monthly, the bonus is 85% of the weekly payment. The DCA portion of the bonus is calculated independently of other payments. So, for example, if you are getting DCA for one child, 85% of the weekly payment is €60.70. 
Further information is available from the Citizens Information Centre below.
Know Your Rights has been compiled by Boyle Citizens Information Centre which provides a free and confidential service to the public. Tel: 0761 07 6330 
Address: Elphin Street, Boyle, Co. Roscommon
Information is also available online at citizensinformation.ie and from the Citizens Information Phone Service - 0761 07 4000

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Know Your Rights: Flu vaccination


Question:
I have been told I need to get a flu vaccine. Can I get it for free?

Answer 
Influenza, usually known as the flu, is highly infectious and anyone can get it. However some groups are at greater risk of complications if they get the flu. This includes people over the age of 65, pregnant women and people who have a chronic medical condition.

The flu vaccine can help protect you from getting the flu. The flu virus changes every year and this is why there is a new vaccine each year. Vaccination is strongly recommended if you:

·      Are aged 65 and over
·    Have a long-term medical condition such as diabetes, heart, kidney, liver, lung or neurological disease
·     Have an impaired immune system due to disease or treatment
·     Have a body mass index (BMI) over 40
·        Are pregnant
·         Live in a nursing home or other long-stay institution
·         Are a carer or a healthcare worker
·         Have regular contact with poultry, water fowl or pigs
You can get the vaccine from your GP (family doctor) or pharmacist. Children can get the vaccine from a GP.
The vaccine itself is free of charge if you are in one of the recommended groups.However, doctors and pharmacists may charge a consultation fee when they give you the vaccine.  If you have a medical card or GP visit card you can get the vaccine without being charged a consultation fee.

Further information is available from the Citizens Information Centre below.
Know Your Rights has been compiled by Boyle Citizens Information Centre which provides a free and confidential service to the public. Tel: 0761 07 6330
Address: Elphin Street, Boyle, Co. Roscommon

Information is also available online at citizensinformation.ie and from the Citizens Information Phone Service - 0761 07 4000

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Know Your Rights: Free cancer screening programmes


Question
My friend has been invited to take part in free cancer screening. I haven’t received an invitation but she says it’s a national free screening programme. How do I take part?

Answer
There are free screening programmes to help detect or prevent a number of types of cancer.
BowelScreen, The National Bowel Screening Programme, aims to find bowel cancer at an early stage in people who have no symptoms. It offers free screening every two years to men and women aged 60 to 69. If you are in this age group you can ring BowelScreen on Freephone 1800 45 45 55 to check your details are on the register. If you are on the register you will receive an invitation to take part in the BowelScreen programme.
CervicalCheck,The National Cervical Screening Programme, tests women aged 25 to 60 for changes in the cells of cervix. Early detection and treatment can prevent cervical cancer. If you are aged between 25 and 60 and have never had a CervicalCheck smear test you can simply make an appointment with a GP practice or clinic registered with CervicalCheck. You can find one in your area by visiting cervicalcheck.ie or by calling Freephone 1800 45 45 55. A letter of invitation is not needed to make an appointment and attend for a first test.
BreastCheck, The National Breast Screening Programme, invites women to a free mammogram (x-ray of the breast) every two years. The screening has been available to women aged 50 to 64 but is currently being extended to also include women aged 65 to 69. If you have not received an invitation you can check if you are registered by visiting breastcheck.ie or by calling freephone 1800 45 45 55.
Screening can help prevent or detect cancer at an early stage in people who have no symptoms. If you have any specific concerns or symptoms you should visit your GP (family doctor).
Further information is available from the Citizens Information Centre below.
Know Your Rights has been compiled by Boyle Citizens Information Centre which provides a free and confidential service to the public. Tel: 0761 07 6330
Address: Elphin Street, Boyle, Co. Roscommon

Information is also available online at citizensinformation.ie and from the Citizens Information Phone Service - 0761 07 4000