The Mohamed Muizzu administration has proposed to Parliament a bill aimed at compiling a register of those in need of housing and determining citizens with low income for whom the government, as determined by the Minister of Housing, can establish a housing benefit payout.

The bill, which on behalf of the government was sponsored by Abdulla Shaheem Abdul Hakeem, Member of Parliament (MP) for Kanditheemu, requires the minister to set a value for housing benefits and will allow the minister to set different amounts for different categories.

Submitted to Parliament on Tuesday, the bill states that those eligible will be divided into categories under a set criteria.

The awarding of points should take into account the income of the beneficiaries, the number of people living in a household, and the number of bedrooms in the dwelling based on the needs of the household.

The amounts of financial assistance, in the form of housing benefits, shall be determined by the minister in accordance with laws and regulations and shall be published in the Government Gazette.

Housing benefits, as prescribed by the bill, will be paid to those eligible in the form of monthly financial aid according to established rules and procedures.

The rules should also specify the manner in which the payment of housing benefits to different categories will be addressed and include procedures to address cases of overpayments and underpayments.

The bill requires the ministry to compile and maintain a register of those in need of housing for the purpose of providing housing benefits and is designed to allow the public to apply for inclusion in the register.

Those applying for benefits must include;

  • Income information as prescribed under the regulations made under the Act
  • Bank information and statements for a period specified in the regulations
  • Rental agreement
  • Receipt or bank statement of rent paid for the period as specified in the regulations
  • Information about the property as described in the regulations

The bill does not require individuals who are already determined to be eligible for social housing under a government-run housing programme to apply separately for inclusion.

Regulations should set out procedures for applying for inclusion on the register, confirming the eligibility of applicants, and deciding whether to include them in the register.

The bill requires the ministry to review, and make public, the register of people in need of housing once every year and, according to the bill, the register should only include personal information that is deemed absolutely necessary to be made public.

The ministry must also continue to monitor the status of beneficiaries to record changes in status. Factors to be considered in determining a change in status includes;

  • Total household income
  • Number living in the household
  • Living expenses and financial situation to the extent that expenses can be met
  • Housing fulfilled for a person or persons who live or have lived in the household

The bill also describes the quality of social housing programmes, the standards for social housing, and the rules for the operation of such housing programmes.

This is one of several pieces of legislation that the administration aims to draft and submit to parliament within its first 100 days.