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Reasonable living expense background information (PDF) - July 2015 15X15


Reasonable Living Expenses (RLE) Guidelines

The ISI is required by section 23 of the Personal Insolvency Act 2012 to prepare and issue guidelines as to what constitutes a reasonable standard of living and reasonable living expenses.
Under the model developed by the ISI, reasonable living expenses are the expenses a person necessarily incurs in achieving a reasonable standard of living, this being one which meets a person’s physical, psychological and social needs.

The costs attributed to a household are termed ‘set costs’.  To these are added the reasonable costs of housing, childcare and special circumstances where these arise. This produces the total for reasonable living expenses for a given household.

The guidelines are intended to give direction to Approved Intermediaries and guidance to Personal Insolvency Practitioners in assessing, for relevant provisions of that Act, what may be considered ‘reasonable’ in the context of a standard of living and living expenses.


Reasonable Living Expenses
Household Composition  RLEs No. 1
Childcare  RLEs No. 2
Housing  RLEs No. 3
Special circumstances  RLEs No. 4


 RLEs No. 1 Set costs can be found by looking up the tables contained in Schedule 1 of the guidelines and finding which best fits the situation of the applicant based on household composition and on the need of the household for a car.  The set costs of a household are compiled by totalling the costs for each individual in the household.

 RLEs No. 2 A significant expense arises where paid childcare is needed, particularly at the first two stages of childhood i.e. infancy and pre-school. Where childcare costs are paid they are added to the total for set costs. The AI or PIP should assess the reasonableness of these expenses taking into account the factors outlined in the guidelines.

 RLEs No. 3 Housing can also be a significant expense.  In considering what constitutes a reasonable and sustainable accommodation expenditure in an individual case, the AI or PIP should assess the rent or mortgage payments taking into account the factors outlined in the guidelines.

 RLEs No. 4  The differing needs of persons, having regard to matters such as their age, health and whether they have a physical, sensory, mental health or intellectual disability can be accommodated by a debtor specifying reasonable costs which arise as a consequence of ill-health, age or disability under this category of special circumstances. This category may also be used where a debtor has persons other than his or her minor children financially dependent on him or her, such as where the debtor is contributing financially to the care of an adult dependent such as, for example, an elderly relative or a college-going child.