HCV LANDLORD Q&A
ABOUT THE HCV PROGRAM:
The Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) program provides rental assistance to low income individuals and families, who select their own rentals from units on the private market. We do not assist the unit, we assist the family who rents the unit.
The family pays about a third of their income in rent to the landlord, and we pay the rest, up to a certain limit, directly to the landlord.
Each rental unit must pass an initial and annual inspection.
The landlord uses his/her own lease with our addendum. Month-to-month leases are acceptable.
Rent increases are permitted as long as the total rent is no more than our reasonable rent standard.
The landlord can leave the program at the end of any lease term. The HCV program does not require notice to the tenant, however, state law requires 90 days.
The landlord can charge a market-rate security deposit in accordance with his/her practices and state law.
See the “Owner Lease-up Packet” for additional information.
The rent the landlord can collect is not based on Fair Market Rents or Payment Standards, but on the Housing Authority’s rental market surveys.
You may not rent to a relative except under very limited situations for persons with disabilities, with advance approval from the Housing Authority.
See our New Landlord Q&A, with more information for landlords just joining the program.
WHAT IS THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN THE TENANT, THE LANDLORD, AND THE HOUSING AUTHORITY?
The HCV program provides rental assistance to families who can then choose a unit to rent on the private market.
The Housing Authority has a direct relationship with the tenant in that we provide them housing assistance. The voucher we issue the tenant spells out the terms of our relationship with the tenant.
The Housing Authority also has a direct relationship with landlords in that we pay rental assistance to landlords on behalf of the HCV tenant they have selected. The Housing Assistance Payment Contract (HAP) spells out the terms of our relationship with the landlord.
The landlord and tenant have a relationship that the Housing Authority is not a party to. That is the tenant-landlord relationship. The lease or rental agreement spells out the terms of that relationship. The HCV program requires that you use the HUD Lease Addendum with your lease.
WHAT KINDS OF ACTIONS OR CHANGES DOES A LANDLORD NEED TO NOTIFY THE HOUSING AUTHORITY OF?
The landlord must notify the Housing Authority of all changes to the lease or tenancy, including:
- Raising the rent. All rent increases must be agreed to in advance by the Housing Authority.
- Making a change to the lease regarding who pays for utilities.
- The landlord taking any lease enforcement action, including warnings, late rent notices, or eviction.
- The family moving out.
- The unit being sold or changing ownership.
- The landlord’s change of address or change of property manager. (See our website for change of address forms)
- A change regarding what property the tenant is leasing (garages, common areas, etc.)
WHAT IF I HAVE A PROBLEM WITH A HCV TENANT?
Remember that this is your tenant, like any other tenant. You can take any action, up to and including eviction, in accordance with the law and your lease. The length of notice depends on state law and may range from three to 90 days.
Please consult an attorney or apartment association before taking action, and copy us on any notices of lease violation or other action.
We can terminate a family’s assistance for repeated lease violations, some criminal acts, or program fraud. See our Program Fraud Q&A for more information
WILL THE HOUSING AUTHORITY PAY FOR TENANT-CAUSED DAMAGES TO THE UNIT?
No. You are responsible for collecting a security deposit, screening tenants, and conducting move-in and move-out inspections as you would with any other tenant.
The Housing Authority does not conduct a move-out inspection. You are welcome to attend the Housing Authority’s biennial inspection of the unit to assess the condition of the property.
HOW ARE RENT CHANGES HANDLED?
You must notify us and the tenant in writing at least 60 days before a rent increase is to take effect.
We will review the new proposed rent and make sure it is “reasonable,” using our market studies.
See the “Rent Adjustment Process” one sheet for additional information.
ALSO, YOU MUST NOT CHARGE A HCV TENANT A HIGHER RENT THAN YOU WOULD ANY OTHER TENANT?
When recertifications take place, rent change notices will be sent to both you and the tenant with the new rent amount and HAP payment. It is your responsibility to collect the correct rent from the tenant. You may not charge the tenant any additional amount beyond what we approve.
Housing Authority rents are paid on the first of the month. We offer fast, convenient direct deposit of our rent checks. We will mail you a statement if you choose direct deposit. To update direct deposit information, visit the forms page or the Landlord Portal
If the tenant’s income changes, we may adjust their portion of the rent. In some cases, we may issue a retroactive check to you and you may need to reimburse the tenant. Regardless of any pending changes, the tenant is responsible for paying the entire portion of the family rent listed on the most recent Rent Adjustment Letter.
WHAT HAPPENS IF FAMILY MEMBERS MOVE IN OR OUT?
You may determine whether you will allow someone else to move in. HVC families must notify us when someone moves in or moves out. We determine the rent the family pays to the landlord based on the total income of everyone living in the unit, not just the number of people living there.
WHAT HAPPENS WHEN THE WHOLE FAMILY VACATES?
You must notify us immediately of a HCV family’s move-out date. The Landlord will not receive prorated amount of the last month’s rent, based on move-out date. The landlord is able to keep the entire months Housing Assistance Payment if the tenant occupied the unit during that month. If you receive any rent after that month from us, you may owe us back rent.
WHAT ARE PAYMENT STANDARDS?
This is not the maximum rent that can be charged by landlords. This is the maximum amount a family can receive, but your monthly assistance may be different. The amount of rent a landlord can charge must be “reasonable” when compared to unassisted rental units in the neighborhood with similar amenities. If the cost of the rent plus utilities is greater than the payment standard, the PHA may approve the family to pay the difference if they have sufficient income. The Payment Standards are generally within 5 percent of the Fair Market Rent for the unit size. Visit the HUD website for the most recent Fair Market Rent Chart and our Landlord Forms page for the most recent payment standards chart.
ARE THE PAYMENT STANDARDS THE AMOUNT OF RENT THAT I WILL GET?
Most of the time, no.
The HACCC must examine Rent Reasonableness by comparing your unit to the cost of comparable units in the area. This process is called “Rent Reasonableness”.
HUD’s rent reasonableness standard is designed to ensure that rents being paid are reasonable in relation to rents being charged for comparable unassisted units in the same market. HUD requires the PHA to have a procedure in place to ensure that compliance with rent reasonableness standards is documented prior to a executing the lease for an assisted unit. Under the HCV Program, all units and structures for which rent is paid must be reasonable.
The HACCC must determine rent reasonableness by considering the gross rent of the unit and the location, quality, size, type, and age of the unit, and any amenities, maintenance, and utilities to be provided by the owner. To calculate the gross rent for purposes of determining whether it meets the rent reasonableness standard , consider the entire housing cost: rent plus the cost of any utilities that must, according to the lease, be the responsibility of the tenant. Utility costs may include gas, electric, water, sewer, and trash. However, telephone, cable or satellite television service, and internet service are excluded . The gross rent also does not include pet fees or late fees that the program participant may accrue for failing to pay the rent by the due date established in the lease. Comparable rents are checked by using a market study of rents charged for units of different sizes in different locations or by reviewing advertisements for comparable rental units. For example, a program participant’s case file might include the unit’s rent and description, a printout of three comparable units’ rents, and evidence that these comparison units shared the same features (location, size, amenities, quality, etc.).