Housing Choice Voucher Program for Landlords
The United States Department of Housing and Urban Development gives funds to the Maywood Housing Authority to provide rent subsidies to a limited number of eligible low and very-low-income families. Families include single persons, elderly and households with disabilities. The subsidies are provided to families on the MHA waiting list and all persons may apply to the waiting list when it is open. Currently, the MHA waiting list is closed.
The MHA selects families from its waiting list in sequential order and invites the families selected to submit an application for a Housing Choice Voucher. The MHA verifies the information provided in the families’ applications and determines whether the families who apply meet HUD’s eligibility guidelines, which are based upon the family’s income and family size. The MHA requires families to provide accurate information. The MHA’s eligibility determination does not include whether a family is suitable to rent a dwelling unit and the MHA does not screen applicants for their suitability to rent an apartment. After the MHA eligibility determination is made, it issues vouchers to eligible households who are required to undertake a housing search. After receiving a voucher, eligible families generally pay 30% of their incomes for rent (tenant’s share) and the MHA provides a subsidy that generally represents the difference between the tenant’s share and the gross contract rent (includes utilities). The subsidy that the MHA will pay is called a “Housing Assistance Payment (HAP)” and this payment is subject to limitations imposed by the MHA’s Payment Standards. Payment Standards are based upon Fair Market Rents (FMRs) established by HUD.
Owners Screens and Selects Voucher Tenants: Property owners should subject voucher holders to their established screening process. This screening may include obtaining landlord references, verifying income, reviewing credit history and verifying employment. The owner may select the voucher holder of his/her choice but may not rent to an immediate family member. The MHA does not screen landlords or pre-qualify landlords for participation in the voucher program.
Owners Complete A Request For Tenancy Approval: When a voucher holder comes to view your apartment, he/she will have a “Request For Tenancy Approval (RFTA)” form with him/her. The owner must complete the form and may give it to the voucher holder who will submit it to the MHA. Upon receipt of the completed form, the MHA will contact the owner to schedule an inspection of the owner’s rental unit. A voucher holder may rent an apartment, townhome, condominium or detached single family home.
MHA Contacts Owners and Schedules the Unit Inspection: When the MHA receives the “Request For Tenancy Approval (RFTA)” the MHA will contact the landlord and make arrangements to inspect the rental unit. Prior to the inspection, the landlord must ensure that the unit is clean, in good repair, has working utilities and generally ready for inspection. Any appliances the landlord intends to provide must be in the unit and functioning. The owner should attend the inspection to learn whether the unit contains any violations of HUD’s Housing Quality Standards so that he/she can make repairs quickly.
Owner and MHA Agree To Fair Rent and Sign Contract Documents: A fair and reasonable rent is a rent that is not greater than rents the Owner charges to non-subsidized tenants in the same building/development for similar rental units and is not greater than the rent charged to non-subsidized tenants in the rental area. The MHA and the Owner will agree upon a rent that is reasonable and considering the location, quality, size, unit type, age, amenities, housing services, maintenance and utilities provided to the rental unit. After the MHA completes its “Rent Reasonableness Determination,” the MHA and the Owner will sign the Housing Assistance Payments (HAP) Contract, which sets forth the terms and conditions under which the Owner will receive the HAP subsidy, the Owner will complete a Payment Voucher designing to whom and where the MHA should submit monthly payments and a federal W-9. The tenant and the Owner must sign the landlord’s Apartment Lease. The MHA is not a party to lease between the landlord and the tenant. A copy of HUD’s Tenancy Addendum must be attached to the lease.
Rent Subsidy Begins and Continues Throughout Lease Term: The MHA will begin the rent subsidy when it received the signed contract documents. The MHA will pay its share of the rent directly to the Owner and the Owner must collect the tenant’s share of the rent from the tenant. The MHA pays rent to Owners in advance on the 1st of each month. In addition, the MHA makes rent payments on or about the 15th of each month to landlords who did not receive a rent payment on the 1st of the month for any reason of any nature.
Owner Maintains Unit, Enforces Lease, Request Annual Fair Rent Increase: Property Owners are required to consistently maintain their rental units in compliance with HUD’s Housing Quality Standards (HQS). Property Owners must also enforce the lease in the same manner in which the owner enforces the lease for non-subsidized rental units. Voucher families are required to abide by the lease and understand that if they fail to abide by the lease, (including not paying the tenant’s share of the rent, except for normal wear and tear, damaging the rental unit, violating the lease in any respect whatsoever), the Owner can evict the voucher holder. Owners may request a rent increase not more frequently than once annually. The Owner must notify the tenant of the request for a rent increase 60 days in advance of the request. Approval of the Owner’s request is subject Rent Reasonableness requirements.
Roles and Responsibilities: In the voucher program, the family, the owner and the MHA have responsibilities to meet. The family must provide true and complete information about its income and the number of persons that are in the family. The family must pay the family’s share of the rent directly to the landlord each month and according to the terms of the lease. Except for normal wear and tear, the family must not damage the dwelling unit and must also abide by the lease in all other respects. The landlord may evict the family for unpaid rent and/or the family’s failure to comply with the lease. The MHA may terminate the family from the HCV program for providing false information and/or for failure to comply with program rules and regulations.
The property owner must screen the family prior to agreeing to rent to the family. The owner must provide a rental unit that is decent, safe and sanitary and must maintain the unit in compliance with HUD’s Housing Quality Standards. The owner must also enforce the lease and may evict the family for lease violations, just as the owner may evict a family that does not receive a rental subsidy. The owner must also charge a fair rent and may not charge voucher holders more that the owner charges other non-subsidized families in the same building or for similar rental units.
The MHA must make initial determinations of eligibility of all families and must re-determine a family’s income and family size each year. The family’s rent share is based upon the annual re-determination of income and family size. The MHA must also inspect all subsidized rental units in its voucher program to determine whether they are decent, safe and sanitary. Finally, the MHA is responsible for making rent payments to property owners and ensuring that owners and tenants abide the rules of the program.