Plans to introduce means testing for public sector housing have been put on hold after the Department of Health and Social Care discovered it does not have the legislative power to do so.
The news came as Minister Howard Quayle addressed a meeting of the Social Affairs Policy Review Committee on Wednesday.
Means testing was a central plank of the cabinet reshuffle earlier this year, when the Department of Social Care was re-united with Health.
During the budget debate of 2013, former Minister of Social Care Chris Robertshaw MHK stated that means testing would come in from April next year.
Minister Quayle says it now appears that Mr Robertshaw and the Department hadn't the authority to carry this out
Mr Quayle adds that they will now have to work with their legal team within the department to put through legislation to allow for means testing of rents - but this could take many months.