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Questions & Answers:
Q: Why would a Property Owner want to participate in the Housing Choice Voucher Program?
A: Property Owners who participate in the Housing Choice Voucher Program enjoy rent security in terms of the portion of rent paid by the Housing Authority and it can help keep vacancies low while providing landlords with good residents to fill their empty homes.
Q: What does it cost?
A: Section8MD.com charges a fee equal to one months rent. This fee is shared with participating Brokers/Realtors.
Q: What is the Housing Choice Voucher Program and how does it work?
A: The Housing Choice Voucher Program is a housing assistance program designed to help low-income families, the elderly or disabled. It is funded through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) but operated at the local level through Public Housing Authorities (PHAs).
-Families are provided with vouchers that help pay for rent on a home and are free to choose where they live.
-The Housing Choice Voucher Program is often incorrectly referred to as the Section 8 program. The Section 8 program was established in 1974 and later changed to the Housing Choice Voucher Program in 1998 when Congress merged the certificate and voucher components.
-The Housing Authority makes monthly payments to the owner of the property on behalf of the family, but the family is responsible for paying the remaining monthly balance on its own.
-Rental properties must meet HUD Housing Quality Standards and pass the inspection before it can qualify for the program.
-The family/voucher participant is responsible for finding a property and negotiating the terms.
-If the property passes the inspection and meets quality standards, the Housing Authority will then form a contract with the property owner.
Q: What type of housing units can participate in the Housing Choice Voucher Program?
A: The Housing Choice Voucher Program provides rental assistance for apartments, town-homes, detached homes, condos and duplexes.
Q: Are restrictions placed on where program participants may seek housing?
A: Each Housing Authority works within a certain geographic location. Program participants are restricted to finding housing within the geographic location that is serviced by a particular Housing Authority.
Q: What type of criteria is the housing required to meet?
A: The housing must be decent, safe and sanitary while also meeting the Housing Quality Standards.
Q: Are there limitations placed on rental amounts?
A: The Housing Authority is responsible for determining rent limitations. Most Housing Authorities perform rent reasonableness surveys in order to determine a reasonable rate for the area and to ensure the rent is comparable to that being paid by those who are not involved in the program. Furthermore, the Housing Authority will not approve a unit if the rental cost is more than 40% of the tenant's income.
Q: Are property owners required to lease to people who have Housing Authority vouchers?
A: No, a property owner has the freedom to rent to whoever you like, so long as you are not discriminating against potential tenants based on color, race, religion, sex, familial status or national origin.
-The Housing Authority does not require property owners to house families involved in the program, nor does it screen families. Rather, the Housing Authority only determines program eligibility and leaves the responsibility of screening families up to the property owner. So long as you require all potential tenants to complete an application and screening process, you are fully within your rights as a landlord.
Q: Are property owners expected to treat program participants differently from those who are not receiving assistance?
A: No, program participants are expected to abide by the same regulations as unassisted tenants.
Q: How many people can live in a unit through the Housing Choice Voucher Program?
A: The Housing Authority places its own restrictions on unit size, which is based on the size of the family.
-The Housing Authority will issue a voucher to the family, which will indicate the unit bedroom size that is required through the program.
-As a property owner, it is essential for you to make certain the bedroom size of your rental property is in compliance with the voucher.
Q: Are property owners required to accept pets through the Housing Choice Voucher Program?
A: No, you are not required to accepts pets.
Q: Who pays the security deposit?
A: Tenants are required to pay their own security deposits, though you are restricted from charging a security deposit that is greater than what you charge unassisted tenants.
Q: Is the property owner required to pay for the utilities?
A: No, the property owner is not responsible for paying the tenant's utilities, though the tenant must have an electric, gas and water meter that is separate from other tenants and if the tenant is responsible for paying the utilities, the utilities must be transferred to the tenant's name.
Q: Are program participants allowed to rent furnished apartments?
A: Yes, though the Housing Authority may only subsidize for the rental unit. However, in this case, the tenant may need to contract the furnishings separately.
Q: What kind of paperwork is involved with the program?
A: Once you have reached an agreement with a potential candidate, you will need to complete a Request for Tenancy Approval form. This form requests basic information, such as the address of the unit, the monthly rental fee and the utilities the tenant will be required to pay. You will also be required to negotiate a lease agreement with the potential client.
-After your unit has passed inspection, you will be required to sign a contract with the Housing Authority.
-Every year, you will be required to go through a recertification process.
-Your lease will not be binding until after the unit has passed inspection and you have signed a contract with the Housing Authority.
Q: How involved is the Housing Authority with the tenant/landlord relationship?
A: The Housing Authority encourages landlords and tenants to resolve issues on their own, but will provide assistance if the landlord or the tenant are experiencing problems.
Q: When does the landlord receive rental payments from the Housing Authority?
A: The first payment may take up to two weeks to arrive.
-Thereafter, the Housing Authority makes every effort to get payments to the landlord by the first of each month.
-All payments are sent via first class mail.
Q: Am I able to evict a tenant if necessary?
A. Yes, you may evict a tenant who is participating in the Housing Choice Voucher Program, so long as you provide proper legal notice, abide by all local and state eviction laws and provide the Housing Authority with a copy of the initial eviction notice once the process has been started.
- A few legal reasons for eviction include failure to pay rent, causing damage beyond normal wear and tear and illegal use of the unit.
Q: What are the responsibilities of the property owner through the Housing Choice Voucher Program?
A: As the property owner/landlord, you will be responsible for screening your tenants and for selecting the family.
-You will also be responsible for performing all management and renting functions as well as performing all necessary maintenance. If you are supplying utilities to the unit, you will also be responsible for the payment of these facilities.
-In addition, you are responsible for complying with the Housing Assistance Payment Voucher Contract as well as with the lease you have with your tenant.
Q: What are the responsibilities of the tenant through the Housing Choice Voucher Program?
A: Families participating in the Housing Choice Voucher Program are responsible for finding suitable housing and for providing the Housing Authority with the income and family information needed to verify and certify program eligibility.
-This information must be provided at least on an annual basis in order to maintain eligibility.
-Families participating in the program are also responsible for repairing any damage that they cause to the unit and must allow the Housing Authority to inspect the unit.
-Finally, families must abide by the obligations as defined by the Housing Choice Voucher, which abiding by the lease.
Q: What are the responsibilities of the Housing Authority through the Housing Choice Voucher Program?
A: The Housing Authority is responsible for determining whether or not the client is eligible to participate in the Housing Choice Voucher Program.
-Once eligibility is established, the Housing Authority is responsible for processing the certification and re-certification application, for inspecting the unit, for approving the lease and for executing the Housing Assistance Payment Contract.
-The Housing Authority is also responsible for determining the amount of assistance to be provided and for making payments to the landlord on behalf of the tenant.
-Finally, the Housing Authority is responsible for monitoring the program and making certain everyone involved is in compliance with Federal, State and Local regulations.
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