Frequently Asked Questions for Landlords
Does the housing agency screen HCV tenants?
RGN XII RHA does not screen tenants for you. You must do this yourself, just as you would screen non-HCV tenants. RHA's main concern is checking that the applicant meets the income limits and other HCV eligibility requirements. Screening the tenant is the landlord's responsibility.
Do I sign a lease with the tenant?
You must sign a lease with the tenant for a minimum of one year. The lease must include: (1) names of the landlord and tenant, (2) address of the rental unit, (3) term of the lease and how it will be renewed, (4) monthly rent amount/deposit amount, (5) which utilities are paid by the tenant and/or landlord, (6) which appliances must be provided by the tenant and/or landlord, and (7) Tenancy Addendum. (You must include the Tenancy Addendum exactly as it appears on the HUD website-we will provide a copy for you). You may include any other conditions that you normally include in your leases, as long as they do not violate any laws.
Are there any prohibited lease terms I should be aware of?
The lease you sign with a HCV participant should be a standard lease you use for any other rental units you own or manage on the open-market. The terms of the lease must be in accordance with state and local law and any additional terms or conditional changes need to be provided to the Housing Authority as they occur. All household members must be listed on the lease and any changes must be approved by both the Housing Authority and the Owner.
Assuming I enter into a one-year lease, what happens after the first year?
A few months before the one year anniversary of the contract, you and the tenant will be contacted by the Housing Authority regarding continuation of the lease and contract, and, on what terms. (Note: If you do not hear from your Housing Authority representative within 30 days of the anniversary date, it is important that you contact the representative to discuss whether you wish to continue or terminate the tenancy.)
If both you and the tenant plan to continue the tenancy, an inspection of the property will be scheduled (bi-annually). The Authority's representative will contact you and advise you of any items needing repair and/or items recommended for repair and indicate a date by which the repairs must be completed. If the items are not considered to be emergency repairs, the time given landlords is 30 days.
The Authority's representative will also meet with the head of household to review family income and composition to insure they are still eligible to remain in the program and are housed in an appropriately sized unit. The tenant's portion of the rent will also be recalculated at that time to determine if a change is warranted.
What kind of inspection is done?
Your apartment/house will be inspected to make sure that it meets the housing standards of the HCV program. The inspector will examine the exterior of the building, the plumbing and heating systems, the exits and hallways, and each room in the apartment to make sure the unit is safe, clean, and in good condition. The unit must be vacant at the time of the first inspections (unless the current tenant is occupying the unit), and all utilities must be turned on. The inspector must have access to the unit itself, the basement, and all common areas.
The inspector uses a checklist form provided by HUD, the federal agency in charge of the HCV program. For each item on the list, the inspector marks if the unit passes or fails (or not sure). If repairs are needed, the inspector marks this on the form.
A family will not be allowed to receive rental assistance until you have made any needed repairs and the unit passes the inspection.
The unit will be re-inspected every other year. If problems are found, you must make repairs within the time allotted or else the HCV will stop payments.
The tenant is responsible for the damages to my unit and subsequently the unit did not pass the annual HQS inspection. Am I still responsible for these repairs?
No. With regulatory changes which went into effect 10/2/1995 , owners are no longer responsible for HQS violations caused by tenants. Tenants who fail to pay for utilities for which they are responsible, who fail to supply and maintain appliances for which the owner is not required to supply under the lease, or who (or whose guests) cause damage to the unit beyond normal wear and tear will now be considered to have breached family obligations under the HCV program and will face termination by the Housing Authority.
If the repairs are not completed, the Housing Authority would not abate rent under these circumstances but would be required to terminate the contract if the unit was not brought up to HQS standards.
How much rent can I charge?
The rent you charge must be reasonable compared to other units of similar size in your community. The HCV office will compare your rent to their payment standards, which are based in part on the fair market rents in your city or town. The fair market rents are the average gross rents (rent plus utilities) being paid in your community for modest apartments/houses of varying sizes.
If the gross rent (rent plus utilities) for your apartment is less than or equal to the payment standard, the tenants pay 30% of their monthly income for rent and HCV program pays the rest. If the rent is higher, the tenants must make up the difference. However, they are not allowed to pay more than 40% of their income for rent when they first rent an apartment/house.
If you want to increase the rent when you renew the lease, you must get approval from our office. Please put your request in writing and provide to our office 60 days prior to your requested rent increase effective date. The rent must remain reasonable and within the family's ability to pay, or else the HCV program will not approve it.
How do I get paid?
Our office will issue a direct deposit to your account for their portion of the rent each month. They will continue to do so as long as the tenant remains eligible for the HCV program and your apartment meets the HCV program standards.
You are responsible for collecting the tenant portion of the rent each month.
What should a landlord do if he/she receives a regular monthly check and the tenant subsequently vacates the unit in the middle of the same month?
Under the Housing Choice Voucher program regulations, the owner may keep the Housing Assistance Payment check received for the month in which the family vacates; but the landlord must notify the PHA as soon as they are aware that the tenant has vacated.
What should a landlord do if he/she wants to terminate a Section 8 tenancy?
The landlord can issue a proper notice to vacate at the end of the initial term of the lease or at the end of any successive term (i.e. month to month, year to year). The landlord can issue notice to terminate during the lease term for lease violations or other good cause.
Landlords are strongly encouraged to document tenant violations and to provide the tenant and the Housing Authority with written warnings or notices of the violations whenever possible.
A copy of the notice of termination must be sent to the Housing Authority. If the tenant does not vacate within the time set forth in the termination notice, the eviction action which follows is just like any other eviction action.
If the HCV tenant is evicted, the Housing Authority will pay through the end of the month in which the tenant was evicted.
May I evict a HCV tenant?
You may evict a HCV tenant in the same way you would evict a non-HCV tenant. The same laws apply. The PHA has no liability or responsibility to the owner or other persons for the family's behavior or suitability for tenancy.
We strongly recommend that you screen your prospective tenants carefully to ensure that your property investment has been placed in the possession of a tenant who will take proper care of your unit.
We also request that you communicate to us when you have lease violation issues with a tenant and provide a copy of any lease violation notices to us that you give to your HCV tenants. By providing the Housing Authority with this information, action can be taken to terminate a program participant who repeatedly fails to follow the program rules.
If there is an HQS violation, the Housing Authority is prohibited from executing a Housing Assistance Payments Contract until the required repair is completed and the unit has been re-inspected. No payment can be made for any days preceding the confirmation of repair completion.
If you have other questions that were not answered, please review the FAQs asked by Participants, FAQs asked by Landlords, or call our office directly and ask our staff your unique question.