Guidelines for Section 8 Landlords

By: Timothy McFarlin | Published: November 1st, 2009 | Category: Budget & Debts
Q. WHAT IS THE HOUSING CHOICE VOUCHER PROGRAM?
A. The Housing Choice Voucher Program (sometimes referred to as “Section 8”) is the largest federal low-income housing assistance program. Families are awarded vouchers to help pay the cost of renting housing on the open market. Because vouchers are provided to particular tenants to live where they choose, they are often referred to as “tenant-based” assistance. The voucher program is funded at the federal level by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). At the local level, the program is operated by Public Housing Authorities (PHA’s). The Section 8 program was established in 1974. In 1998 Congress merged the two components of the tenant-based Section 8 program – certificates and vouchers – into a single housing program (Housing Choice Voucher Program). There are thousands of housing authorities across the United States and its territories, and each administer different geographical jurisdictions. The Broward County Housing Authority has been operating the program since 1975. Families can pay up to 40% of their annual adjusted income toward the rental of the unit to the owner. The Housing Authority makes monthly payments directly to the owner on behalf of the family. The “Housing Assistance Payment” is the difference between the tenant’s portion and the actual rent. The family negotiates directly with the landlord to secure rental accommodations that best suit their need. The unit must meet HUD Housing Quality Standards and pass inspection before a contract is executed between the Housing Authority and Landlord.
Q. IS A LANDLORD REQUIRED TO LEASE TO EACH PERSON WHO HOLDS A VOUCHER FROM THE HOUSING AUTHORITY?
A. No. The Landlord may rent to anyone he wishes, provided he does not discriminate against race, color, sex, religion, national origin or familial status. At no time will the Housing Authority require a landlord to house a family. It is acceptable to have prospective tenants complete applications as a part of the landlord’s screening process as long as you do this for all families. The selection of tenants is at the discretion of the owner. It should be emphasized that the Housing Authority is not permitted to screen tenants for participation in the program. We only determine program eligibility. The Federal Regulations were written to place the responsibility of screening families on the landlord.
Q. HOW MUCH PAPERWORK IS INVOLVED IN THE PROGRAM?
A. Initial paperwork involves the landlord completing a Request for Tenancy Approval form, which indicates the address of the unit, the utilities the tenant is to pay and the monthly rent requested. The landlord and tenant will also negotiate and execute a lease agreement. After the unit has been inspected by our agency, the owner will sign a contract with the Housing Authority. The only other paperwork required is at the annual recertification. The lease is not binding until the unit passes inspection and the Housing Assistance Payment Contract has been executed by the landlord and the Housing Authority.
Q. WHAT IS THE RESPONSIBILITY OF THE OWNER UNDER THE PROGRAM?
• Tenant screening, selection of family and leasing of the unit.
• Perform all management and renting functions.
• Perform all ordinary and extraordinary maintenance.
• Pay for owner supplied utilities.
• Assure compliance with the Housing Assistance Payment Voucher Contract.
• Comply with and enforce the lease.
Q. WHAT IS THE RESPONSIBILITY OF THE TENANT UNDER THE PROGRAM?
• Find suitable housing.
• Provide income and family information needed to verify and certify eligibility, annually and interim re-examination.
• Allow the Housing Authority to inspect the unit. Repair damages caused by family.
• Abide by all family obligations as defined in the Housing Choice Voucher.
• Avoid committing serious or repeated violations of the lease.
Q. MAY A LANDLORD EVICT A TENANT?
A. Yes. Providing proper legal notice, the owner may have a tenant evicted from their unit. The Housing Authority cannot evict a tenant from your unit. Written notice of the owner’s intent to evict may be given, provided proof of non-payment of rent, damage beyond normal wear and tear, illegal use of the unit, etc., can be substantiated. The property owner MUST ADVISE the Housing Authority at the beginning of the eviction process by submitting a copy of the initial notice. The owner must adhere to local and state eviction laws in the eviction of Housing Choice Voucher tenants.
Q. WHAT IS THE RESPONSIBILITY OF THE HOUSING AUTHORITY UNDER THE PROGRAM?
• Determine tenant eligibility based on the Federal Regulations.
• Process applications for certification and re-certification with regards to family participation.
• Inspect units, approve lease and execute the Housing Assistance Payment Contract.
• Determine and pay housing assistance payments to the owner on behalf of the family.
• Explain and disseminate information about program procedures to Owners/Tenants.
• Monitor program performance and assure compliance of Federal, State and Local rules and regulations.
Q. ARE THERE RENT LIMITATIONS?
A. This agency does a rent reasonableness survey to establish that the requested rent is comparable to other rents in the surrounding area, and that the rent is the same for unassisted tenants. However, tenants’ portion may not be more than 40% of their income.
Q. IS THERE A RESTRICTION ON THE NUMBER OF PERSONS PERMITTED IN A PARTICULAR SIZE UNIT?
A. Our Agency tries to limit occupancy to two (2) persons per bedroom. Tenant’s voucher size is based on family size.
Bdrm. Size Family Size
Example: 1 2 Persons
2 4 Persons
3 6 Persons
All families, eligible for participation in the Housing Choice Voucher Program, will hold a voucher that was issued by this agency. The family’s voucher will indicate the unit bedroom size required. Make sure that the bedroom size of your unit is the same as that of the voucher.
Q. ARE RECIPIENTS RESTRICTED IN AREAS WHERE THEY MAY SEEK HOUSING?
A. All Housing Authorities service different geographical areas. For example, in the jurisdiction of the Broward County Housing Authority a family can lease anywhere in Broward County, with the exception of the City of Hollywood. GOsection8.com works with many housing authorities and listings are distributed by jurisdiction.
Q. WHAT TYPE OF HOUSING MAY BE UTILIZED IN THE HOUSING CHOICE VOUCHER PROGRAM?
A. Apartments, condos, homes and duplexes may be utilized in the Housing Choice Voucher Program.
Q. MUST THE HOUSING MEET ANY PARTICULAR CRITERIA?
A. Yes. First and foremost, the housing must be safe, decent and sanitary. Housing must also meet the Housing Quality Standards (see last page of brochure).
Q. MUST A LANDLORD TAKE PETS?
A. No. It is up to the discretion of the owner.
Q. WHAT ABOUT SECURITY DEPOSITS?
A. Tenants are responsible for paying the security deposit you require. However, you are prohibited from charging amounts in excess of what you charge your unassisted tenants.
Q. IS THE OWNER RESPONSIBLE FOR THE TENANTS UTILITIES?
A. This decision is up to the owner, provided there is separate electric, water, and gas meters for the unit the tenant will occupy. Electric or water charges on a tenant’s meter which serves other tenants in the unit or complex are not permissible in the Housing Choice Voucher Program. The owner should transfer all tenant paid utilities in the tenant’s name.
Q. ARE TENANTS PERMITTED TO RENT FURNISHED APARTMENTS?
A. Yes. However, our agency may only subsidize the rental unit. The tenant may contract with the owner separately for the rental of the furniture.
Q. HOW AND WHEN DOES THE LANDLORD RECEIVE HIS RENTAL PAYMENTS?
A. The Housing Authority makes every effort to assure payment is received by the owner on the first day of each month, via first class mail. Initial payment may take two (2) weeks to receive.
Q. WHAT IS THE INVOLVMENT OF BROWARD COUNTY HOUSING AUTHORITY ONCE THE TENANT HAS BEEN HOUSED?
A. The Housing Authority encourages all problems to be handled at the landlord/tenant level. The major purpose of the Housing Authority is to subsidize tenants. However, the Housing Authority will assist the landlord if he/she or the tenant is having a particular problem.
Q. ARE PERSONS RECEIVING HOUSING CHOICE VOUCHER PROGRAM SUBSIDY TO BE TREATED DIFFERENTLY THAN UNASSISTED TENANTS IN COMPLEX?
A. No. They are to be treated the same as unassisted residents and must abide by the same complex regulations.
Q. WHY, AS A LANDLORD, SHOULD YOU CONSIDER PARTICIPATING IN THE HOUSING CHOICE VOUCHER PROGRAM?
• Rent Security – Monthly guarantee of the Housing Authority’s portion of the rent
• Low vacancy
• Good residents
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