Top 7 things that every tenant should know
1. Thorough research of the locality and the rented property:
The first task in the renting process is to check the safety quotient of the locality and its neighbouring areas. You can do so by speaking to residents of the locality. If the exercise seems tedious to you then you can log in to www.advice.magicbricks.com and find out locality information under ‘Locality Reviews’. Also, check what safety measures the prospective landlord is providing. It is advisable to get all information incorporated in your lease document.
2. Be prepared with documents:
Accumulate all required documents such as identification, proof of employment and income, etc. before meeting the landlord. Having all documents handy can help in closing the deal fast. Usually, this helps when the prospective landlord has other tenant parties to choose from.
3. A written lease:
A written document is a proof of what you and your landlord mutually agree upon. A verbal agreement does not offer much protection to a tenant and landlord. Words cannot be used as proof in future but a documented can.
4. Know what your lease says:
Understanding the lease is very important for a tenant. It is wise to take the advice of an expert once all the points and clauses are documented. Make sure you check the lease and local tenant privacy laws. It helps you understand how and when your landlord can enter your property. If a landlord starts entering your apartment without notice, you’ll know what your rights are. Apart from this, a tenant should know how to end the tenancy and what can happen if you don’t follow the rules. Understanding the lease documents also helps you know the rules about the return of the security deposit.
5. Maintenance and fixes:
A tenant should know which repairs your landlord is responsible for and which fixes he/she need to pay for. A landlord is required to provide a habitable environment, which means that the property that you are renting should be such where one can shift and live immediately. Adequate air ventilation, heat, water and electricity, and a safe structure are certain basic requirements. Landlords should also replace or repair things such as the walls, loose floor tiles that can trip residents before handing over the keys to the tenant. However, once tenant takes over, he will have pay for any breakage and repair.
6. Keep communicating:
It is good to be in touch with your landlord once a while. Keep communicating your concerns about the home like about the faulty wiring or no water issues so that it can be handled properly. Apart from this, a regular communication can help you build a bond/relationship with your landlord. If you have that, a landlord will understand you when sometimes you get late in paying the monthly rent.
7. Know when to fight an eviction notice and when you should move out:
There is no point fighting an eviction if you have not followed the rules mentioned in your rent agreement and your landlord has asked you to move out. You can attempt to set things right with your landlord, but if you can’t, it is time to move on. If you are legally in the right, a lawsuit still may not be your best bet. But you still have a chance to deal with your landlord.
What is Section 8?
The Housing Choice Vouchers Program (often referred to as “Section 8”) is the federal government’s primary program to provide housing for Americans who are living in poverty, as well as the elderly and disabled. It provides qualifying families with assistance in paying the monthly rental fee for homes and apartments that are located anywhere, not just in subsidized housing projects. In every major market in the country it is administered locally by municipal public housing agencies, which certify the tenants and residences for participation in the program.
GoSection8.com works with landlords and public housing agencies to maintain the largest and most accurate listing of voucher program rentals that are currently available in every market in the U.S. We never charge tenants whatsoever for the listings, which are available to them online, via e-mail alerts, by calling our toll-free number or from their local housing authority. Our goal is to connect landlords with tenants and assist the public housing agencies by maintaining the most accurate and comprehensive listing of certified rentals in their market.
Information about the Housing Choice Vouchers Program, including eligibility requirements for both tenants and landlords’ residences, can be found from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development by clicking HERE
The “Section 8” Housing Choice Vouchers Program offers affordable housing choices for very low-income households by allowing families to select from privately owned residences that are being made available for rent by their owner. Local municipal public housing authorities (PHA) generally pay the landlord the difference between 30 percent of household income and the PHA-determined payment standard – which is approximately 80 to 100 percent of the fair market rent (FMR).
For landlords and their units to participate in the program, the rent must be reasonable. The tenants may choose a home with a higher rent than the FMR, in which case they would pay the landlord the difference themselves, or they may choose a lower cost rental and keep the difference. GoSection8.com helps tenants by providing free access to all of our listings information via our online database as well as by calling us toll free at 1-866-466-SEC8 (7328).
The administering PHA or governmental agency for the Section 8 voucher program inspects the housing units to make sure they comply with HUD quality standards. The housing authority issues the voucher to income-qualified households, and the tenant is then responsible for finding and selecting a residence to rent. If the home or apartment meets the quality standards for eligibility and participation in the program, the PHA will then pay the landlord the amount equal to the difference between 30 percent of the tenant’s adjusted income (or 10 percent of the gross income or the portion of welfare assistance designated for housing) and the PHA-determined payment standard for the area. The monthly rental rate must be reasonable compared with similar unassisted units in the general market.
The PHA calculates the maximum amount of housing assistance allowable for each voucher recipient. The maximum housing assistance is generally the lesser of the payment standard minus 30% of the family’s monthly adjusted income or the gross rent for the unit minus 30% of monthly adjusted income.
Who is Eligible:
Eligibility for a housing voucher under the Section 8 program is determined by the local PHA administering the program. Tenant eligibility is based on the total annual gross income and family size, and it is limited to US citizens and specified categories of non-citizens who have eligible immigration status. In general, the HCV program family’s income may not exceed 50 percent of the median income for the county or metropolitan area in which the family chooses to live. By law, a PHA must provide 75 percent of its vouchers to applicants whose incomes do not exceed 30 percent of the median income for the area, which is published by HUD and vary by location. The PHA serving your community can provide you with the income limits for your area and family size.
If the PHA determines that your family is eligible, you will be added to a waiting list, which varies in length and wait-time according to the local market conditions. In addition, PHAs may establish its own preferences for selecting voucher program applicants from its waiting list, and they may close the list when they have more families than they will be able to assist in the near future.
How it works:
The housing choice voucher program offers the individual family that is participating in the program the ability to research and select from the available rentals that best suit their specific needs. The housing voucher holder is advised of the size of the residence that they may rent under the program based on their family size and composition.
The residence selected by the family must meet the minimum required standards for health and safety so that the PHA can approve the unit for rental under the program. Once a voucher tenant reaches an agreement with the landlord over the lease terms for the unit that they wish to rent under the program, the PHA must first inspect the dwelling and determine that the requested monthly rental rate is reasonable. Every PHA determines their payment standards based on the amount that is generally needed to rent a moderately-priced residence in the local housing market. It uses the local market rental rate to calculate the amount of housing assistance a family will receive, but the local payment standard does not limit the amount of rent a landlord may charge or the family may pay.
Under the requirements of the program, housing voucher families must pay 30% of their monthly adjusted gross income for rent and utilities. If the unit rent is greater than the payment standard for the local market, the family is required to pay the additional amount. By law, whenever a family moves to a new unit where the rent exceeds the payment standard, the family may not pay more than 40 percent of its adjusted monthly income for rent.
Because a family’s housing needs adjust over time with changes in family size, job locations and other reasons, the program is designed to allow families to move without the loss of rental assistance. The family must notify the PHA ahead of time, terminate its existing lease within the lease provisions, and find acceptable alternate housing.
Under the program, new voucher recipients may select a unit anywhere in the United States, as long as the family lived in the jurisdiction of the PHA issuing the voucher when the family applied for assistance. Families that plan to move to another PHA’s jurisdiction must consult with the PHA that currently administers their voucher to verify the moving procedures.
When a voucher family selects a residence and it is approved for leasing under the program by the PHA, the family signs a lease with the landlord for at least one year. Under the terms of the lease, the tenant may be required to pay a security deposit, and the landlord may initiate a new lease or allow the family to remain in the unit under a month-to-month lease after the first year elapses.
Tenants are expected to comply with the lease and the program requirements, pay their share of the rent on time, maintain the unit in good condition, and notify the PHA of any changes in income or family composition.
Landlords who would like to take part section8.com rental program can easily do so by listing their property on the GoSectio8.com website. GoSection8 in turn provides property rental listing services directly to Public Housing Authorities. Our listings are passed out to thousands of “walk-in” tenants seeking Section 8 rental housing daily.
Additionally, through the GoSection8.com website, a landlord’s exposure to potential Section8 tenants is maximized by allowing properties to be viewed online.
Further exposure is achieved via our proprietary GO8 QuikMatch system that notifies tenants seeking housing of new rental listings via computer email, text message or by phone whenever a GoSection8.com Insider lists a property on GoSection8.com. Prospective tenants do not need a computer to view listings posted on GoSection8.com! They can simply call our toll free number and we will input their search criteria into our national database and when a landlord’s property matches their criteria they will receive a phone call.
Prior to GoSection8.com, landlords had to list with Housing Authority offices directly to expose their properties to Section 8 tenants. Due to overlapping geographical territories, in some cases, a landlord would have to list with multiple different local Housing Authorities to achieve maximum local exposure! Furthermore, all Housing Authorities maintained their property lists differently which made the process of adding, updating, and verifying rental listings time consuming and unreliable.
GoSection8.com is more than just a rental property listing website. Our database is becoming the primary source of information for Public Housing Authority rental lists throughout the country. Listing properties with local Housing Authorities has always been the best way to expose your rental property to section 8 tenants.
Housing Authority Obligations:
The PHAs enter into a contract with the landlord to provide housing assistance payments. If the landlord fails to meet their obligations under the lease, the PHA may terminate assistance payments. PHAs must review and update the family’s income and composition at least annually, and they must inspect each unit at least annually to ensure that it meets the minimum housing quality standards for participation in the program.
HUD provides funds to allow PHAs to make housing assistance payments on behalf of the participating families. The agency monitors the PHA’s administration of the program to ensure that the rules and regulations are properly followed.
HOUSING CHOICE VOUCHER PROGRAM
Administered By: Community Development Corporation of Long Island
2100 Middle Country Road
Centereach, NY 11720-3576
For more information, visit our website www.cdcli.org
Phone: (631) 471-1215 Fax: (631) 471-2167
Guidebook for Owners 2 TABLE OF CONTENTS
1. What is the Housing Choice Voucher Program?………………………………………..
How the program helps Owners………………………………………………….
2. Roles and Responsibilities of Key Housing Choice Voucher Program Players Role of HUD………………………………………………………………………
Role of CDCLI..………………………………………………………………….
Role of Owner…………………………………………………………………….
Role of Family…………………………………….……………………………….
3. Housing Choice Voucher Participation…………………………………………
4. Eligible Housing………………………………………………………………….
5. Tenant Selection………………………………………………………………….
6. Leasing the Units…………………………………………………………………
7. Security Deposits…………………………….………………………………….
8. The HAP Contract………………………….…………………………………….
9. When The HAP Contract Terminates…………………………………………
10. Rent Subsidy Payments………………………………………………………….
11. Families Portion of Rent…………………………………………………………
12. Annual Inspection………………………………………………………………..
13. Annual Rent Adjustments……………………………………………………….
15. Non-Discrimination In Housing…………………………………………………
16. Outreach to Owners………………………………………………………………
17. Frequently Asked Questions About Electronic Payments……………………
18. ACH Direct Deposit form………..…………………………………………..…
What is the Housing Choice Voucher Program?
The Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) Program, formally known as Section 8, is a federally funded program. This program provides housing assistance to eligible lowincome families and enables families to obtain decent, safe, and sanitary housing by subsidizing a portion of each Family’s monthly rent based on their income. The subsidy is paid directly to the property Owners or managers. Single Family dwellings, apartment buildings, legal accessory apartments, townhouses, and condominiums are eligible. Paperwork is minimal and the Owner retains normal management rights and responsibilities including Tenant selection, rent collection, property maintenance, and lease termination. How the program helps Owners:
1. Allows Owners/Landlords to fill vacancies with qualified applicants screened by the Owner or Landlord.
2. Allows for annual rent adjustments due to inflation and increased cost, such as real property taxes and utilities.
3. Guarantees payment of the subsidy portion of the rent under the terms and conditions of the Housing Assistance Payments (HAP) contract. Role of U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) HUD’s responsibilities:
- Developing policy, regulations, handbooks, notices, and guidelines to implement housing legislation
- Allocating housing assistance funds
- Providing technical assistance
- Compliance monitoring to ensure program requirements and performance goals are met Role of CDCLI CDCLI’s responsibilities:
- Establishing local policies
- Determining Family eligibility and annual reexamination of Family income Maintaining the waiting list and selecting families for admission
- Calculating Family/housing assistance cost-share amounts
- Establishing utility allowances
- Conducting outreach to Owners with special attention to those in units outside of areas of poverty or minority concentration
- Assisting persons with disabilities in finding satisfactory housing
- Approving units, including ensuring compliance with federal Housing Quality Standards (HQS) and determining the reasonableness of rent
- Making Housing Assistance Payments to Owners
- Conducting informal reviews and hearings
- Administering the Family Self Sufficiency program
- Complying with fair housing and equal opportunity requirements; HUD regulations and requirements; the consolidation of HUD’s Annual Contributions Contract; HUD-approved applications for program funding; CDCLI’s administrative plan; and federal, state, and local laws. Role of the Owner Owner’s responsibilities: Screening, selecting, and entering into leases with Tenants
- Complying with the Housing Assistance Payments contract, leases, and tenancy addendum
- Carrying out normal Owner functions during the lease term, such as enforcing the lease, performing maintenance, collecting Family costshare of rent, and charging Tenants for any damage to the unit.
- Maintaining HQS compliance
- Complying with fair housing and equal opportunity requirements
- Paying for utilities, maintenance, and services (unless paid for by the Family under the lease) Role of the Family Family’s responsibilities:
- Supplying any information that CDCLI or HUD determines necessary in the administration of the program, including evidence of citizenship or eligible immigration status; information as requested for regular or interim reexaminations of all Family income; Social Security numbers and signed consent forms for obtaining and verifying information
- Fixing any breach of HQS caused by the Family or their guests
- Allowing CDCLI to inspect the unit at reasonable times and after reasonable notice
- Not committing any serious or repeated violation of the lease
- Not engaging in or allowing their guests to engage in drug-related criminal activity or violent criminal activity
- Notifying CDCLI and the Owner before moving or terminating the lease
- Promptly giving CDCLI a copy of an eviction notice from the Owner
- Using the assisted unit as a residence only and as the only residence of the Family. Members of the household may engage in legal profitmaking activities within the unit, but only if those activities are incidental to the primary use of the unit as a residence. The members of the Family also may not receive another housing subsidy in the same unit or a different unit.
- Promptly informing CDCLI of any changes in household composition and obtaining CDCLI approval to add a Family member by any means other than birth, adoption, or court-awarded custody of a child
- Notifying CDCLI of any absence from the unit and complying with CDCLI’s policies governing absence from the unit Not subletting the unit, assigning the lease, or having any interest in the unit
- Not committing fraud, bribery, or any other corrupt or criminal act in connection with any assisted housing programs. Family obligations are stated on the Housing Voucher (form HUD-52646), in the lease, and in the program regulations at 24 CFR, Part 982 for Housing Choice Voucher holders. Housing Choice Voucher participation When CDCLI determines that a Family is eligible for a Housing Choice Voucher, they will be issued one. The voucher is the Family’s identification as a participant in the Housing Choice Voucher program. The initial term of the voucher will be 60 days and the dates will be noted on the voucher. CDCLI may extend the expiration date of the voucher an additional 30 days if requested by the Family. If the Family has not leased up within this time frame, the voucher will terminate. Eligible Housing The program requires that units meet Housing Quality Standards for decent, safe and sanitary housing. In addition to meeting Housing Quality Standards, the rent must be reasonable. Tenant Selection CDCLI does not make any representation to you about any particular Family’s expected behavior as a Tenant or the Family’s suitability for tenancy. It is the Owner’s responsibility to screen the Family as per their normal screening process. The Owner determines whether to select the Family as a Tenant. Leasing the unit When the Owner has agreed to lease the unit to a Family they must complete a Request for Tenancy form HUD-52517. The request for tenancy form must be returned to CDCLI 6 with a copy of the Owner’s deed, a copy of a current tax bill, and a copy of the Owner’s rental permit (where applicable). Owners must certify the most recent amount of rent charged for the unit and provide an explanation for any difference between the prior rent and the proposed rent. Owners must also certify that they are not the parent, child, grandparent, grandchild, sister, or brother of any member of the Family, unless the housing authority has granted a request for reasonable accommodation for a person with disabilities who is a member of the Tenant household. Finally, for units constructed before 1978, Owners must
1) certify that the unit, common areas, and exterior have been found to be free of lead-based paint by a certified inspection; or
2) attach a lead-based paint disclosure statement. Security Deposits You may collect a security deposit for the Housing Choice Voucher Program in conformance with private market practice and in accordance with the security deposits you collect from your non-subsidized Tenants. CDCLI does not offer assistance to participants for security funds. The HAP Contract The Housing Assistance Payment contract is a legal agreement between you and the Local Administrator, CDCLI. It outlines your rights and responsibilities as an Owner/Manager in the Housing Choice Voucher Program. The HAP contract only applies to the household and contract unit specified in Part A of the contract. During the HAP contract term, CDCLI will pay housing assistance payments to the Owner in accordance with the contract. The term of the HAP contract begins the first day of the initial term of the lease, and terminates on the last day of the term of the lease (including the initial lease term and any extensions). HAP Contract Termination
- The HAP contract terminates automatically if the lease is terminated by the Owner or the Tenant.
- CDCLI may terminate program assistance for the Family for any grounds authorized in accordance with HUD requirements. If CDCLI terminates program assistance for the Family, the HAP contract terminates automatically.
- If the Family moves from the contract unit, the HAP contract terminates automatically.
- The HAP contract terminates automatically 180 calendar days after the last housing assistance payment to the Owner.
- CDCLI may terminate the HAP contract if CDCLI determines, in accordance with HUD requirements, that available program funding is not sufficient to support continued assistance for families in the program.
- The HAP contract terminates automatically upon the death of a single member household, including single member households with a live-in-aide.
- CDCLI may terminate the HAP contract if it is determined that the contract unit does not provide adequate space in accordance with the Housing Quality Standards (HQS) because of an increase in Family size or a change in Family composition.
- If a Family breaks up, CDCLI may continue housing assistance payments on behalf of Family members who remain in the contract unit.
- CDCLI may terminate the HAP contract if CDCLI determines that the unit does not meet all requirements of the HQS, or determines that the Owner has otherwise breached the HAP contract. Rent Subsidy Payments Beginning in late summer or early fall of 2010, all Housing Choice Voucher payments made by the New York State Housing Trust Fund Corporation will be made electronically via the Automated Clearing House (ACH) process. Payments will be made directly to a checking account designated by the Owner/Landlord. See the last two pages of this booklet for Frequently Asked Questions regarding electronic payments and a Direct Deposit Authorization Form. Family’s Portion of Rent The Family is solely responsible for payment of their portion of the rent to you. You should notify the Tenant and CDCLI in writing when there are rent arrears. Annual Inspections CDCLI’s inspection department will inspect each unit at least annually to ensure that it continues to meet Housing Quality Standards (HQS). An Owner that has a unit that does not pass the HQS inspection will be given sufficient time to make the necessary repairs. If an Owner does not make the necessary repairs within the time frame allowed by the inspector, the rent will be abated. If there are extenuating circumstances that prevent you from making the repairs within the time frame allowed, you must request an extension in writing. CDCLI will make a case by case determination as to whether or not an extension will be granted. The Family is not responsible for the payment of the Housing Agency’s portion of rent to you covered by the HAP contract. You may not terminate the Family’s tenancy for non-payment of the Housing Agency’s portion. 8 The Family will be responsible for HQS violations that are a result of Tenant damages, or are caused by the Tenant’s guest. The Tenant will be required to make these repairs. Rent will not be abated to the Owner if the Tenant fails to make these repairs. If the Tenant fails to make these repairs, their assistance may be terminated. A letter will be sent to you and your Tenant which will itemize the Tenant and Landlord repairs to be made to the unit so that each will have a clear idea of which repairs they are responsible for. Annual Rent Adjustments Under the Housing Choice Voucher Program, you must give the Tenant and CDCLI 60 days written notice of any annual rent increase. CDCLI will determine if the resulting rent is reasonable in comparison to similar non-subsidized rents. Foreclosures In the case of any foreclosure, the immediate successor in interest in the property pursuant to the foreclosure shall assume such interest subject to the lease between the prior Owner and the Tenant and to the HAP contract between the prior Owner and CDCLI for the occupied unit. This provision does not affect any state or local law that provides longer time periods or other additional protections for Tenants. Non-Discrimination in Housing In the selection of Tenant and provision of services, federal law states that an Owner may not discriminate against any person because of race, color, religion, sex, disability, familial status, or national origin. Additionally, state and local statutes may prohibit discrimination on broader grounds. Program participants are instructed to report all cases of discrimination to CDCLI and to the local Human Rights Commission. Outreach to Owners CDCLI is always seeking decent, safe, and sanitary housing for our program participants. You are encouraged to list any units you may have for rent by calling CDCLI. We publish a resource guide that is updated several times per month. This guide is available to applicants and participants in our office as well as on our website. There is no charge for this service. CDCLI also welcomes Owners to list units that are handicapped accessible. Frequently Asked Questions Electronic Payments – Housing Choice Voucher Program How Do I arrange for electronic payment deposits with my financial institution? 9 You must complete the Direct Deposit Authorization Form and return a copy to your Local Administrator. A copy of a voided check must accompany submission of this Form to your Local Administrator. We recommend that you contact your financial institution and ask about their policies and procedures for Automatic Clearing House (ACH) payments and remittance notifications. What are the benefits of Electronic Payments? It’s easy – Receiving your payments electronically eliminates check handling and manual deposits. The money is credited directly to your account, ready for you to use. There are no additional steps for handling the payment (like mail rooms, the post office, etc.) where checks can be misdirected or lost. It’s fast – With electronic payments, payments go directly into your account. It’s more secure than checks – electronic payments use the ACH network – the same system your bank uses to handle certain transactions with other banks. When electronic payments are credited to your bank account, the funds are immediately available. When will the Housing Trust Fund Corporation (HTFC) begin making my electronic payments by direct deposit to my bank account? Beginning with your first payment. Will all of my payments be electronic payments? Yes, once the electronic payment process is implemented by the HTFC, all future Voucher Program assistance payments will be made via electronic payment. How long does the electronic payment direct deposit authorization process take? Depending on when the Direct Deposit Authorization Form is received by our office, electronic payments may commence as early as the next regular payment cycle. If received too late in the payment cycle, payment will be made by check until the electronic payment information is registered. What information will accompany an electronic payment? How do I receive the information? Electronic payments and individual Tenant remittance information will be electronically posted to your bank account. As necessary, you should discuss remittance and notification questions with your financial institution. 10 What do I need to do if I wish to change the bank or account where funds are to be deposited? If you plan to change the bank or account where funds are deposited, you must complete a new Direct Deposit Authorization Form, allowing sufficient time for the change. It must be completed in the same manner as when payments were initially set up. You are responsible for ensuring that your bank/account information is accurate. What if I don’t currently have a bank account or do not want an electronic payment to my bank account? If you do not have a bank account, you may be interested in requesting information about various account options being made available by Bank of America, HTFC’s banking partner for HCV payment processing. Alternatively, you may wish to discuss other options with your local banking institution