HOUSING SEARCH Q&A
WHERE TO LOOK FOR A PLACE TO RENT:
- See our Affordable Housing page and use online resources to search for apartments
- Read rental ads in the newspaper every day.
- Contact property management companies that have many places for rent.
- Visit neighborhoods where you would like to live and look for “For Rent” signs
HOW DO I BEGIN MY HOUSING SEARCH?
Your search for a place to rent is as important as a job search. You will get more information at the Briefing when you get a voucher, but here are some things to consider:
- Start early and search every day. It takes a focused effort to find a place to rent.
- Gather landlord and job references to present to a landlord you’d like to rent from.
- Present yourself well. Dress neatly when you go to look at a rental, and show the landlord that you would make a good tenant by paying the rent on time and taking care of the place.
- Bring the landlord information packet we gave you to show to the landlord or property manager.
- Use our Family Contact List to document every rental you look at, and the outcome of your application in case you need to request a voucher extension.
HOW MUCH TIME DO I HAVE TO FIND A PLACE?
You usually have 60-180 days to find a unit (the expiration date is listed on your voucher). Do not make any commitment to rent until you have received your voucher and understand the terms and conditions. Remember that if funding is cut, if you are searching for a rental your voucher could be frozen for months or longer. Please do not wait until the expiration date to find a place to live!
WHAT IF I WANT TO MOVE OUT OF THE AREA?
If you have moved without notifying us, your voucher may be canceled. If you notified us before you moved out, you will only have a certain number of days from your move-out date to find a new place to rent and turn in a Request for Tenancy Approval (RTA.)
If you cannot find a place within that time limit, you can request an extension, but extensions may not be granted. If funding is cut while you are searching, your voucher could be frozen for weeks or months.
CAN I JUST STAY WHERE I AM/ CAN I STAY BEYOND MY NOTICE DATE?
Already have rented with the voucher: Absolutely! Please rescind your Notice in writing to your landlord and forward a copy to the Housing Authority. If you only wish extend the notice date (it’s taking you longer than you expected to move), forward a completed Agreement to Extend Lease to Date Form to the Housing Authority. Failure to do so, will result in Housing Assistance Payments stopping on the day of the original move out notice.
Received a voucher for the first time: Absolutely! If you have just received a voucher, we encourage you to consider “leasing in place,” or using your voucher to rent the home you already live in. You still have the option of moving later. Start the process of renting with your voucher right away. If your landlord is not interested, or if your home does not pass inspection, you will need time to search for another place to rent. If you already have a voucher and are interested in moving, read our Transfer Q&A for more details.
WHAT SHOULD I DO WHEN I FIND A PLACE TO RENT
When you find a place to rent, you and the landlord must complete the Request for Tenancy Approval (RTA) and return it to us. If the landlord has any questions about the program, he/she can visit the Landlord section of our website or call your Housing Assistant.
We will review the RTA and, if needed, negotiate the total rent with the landlord. We will also schedule an inspection. The unit must be vacant, and the power must be on, for us to inspect it. See our Inspection Q&A for more information.
The landlord may conduct his/her own screening, charge you a market-rate security deposit, and use his/her own lease. The Housing Authority does not provide security deposit assistance.
We recommend that you do not move in until the unit passes inspection, the lease is signed, and the Housing Assistance Payments (HAP) contract is approved, or you could be responsible for the full rent amount.
WHAT HAPPENS IF I DON’T FIND A PLACE TO RENT?
You have a limited time, usually 60-180 days, to find a place to rent. If you cannot find a rental, you may request an extension in writing. Otherwise, your voucher will expire and be issued to another family.
Do not wait until your voucher has expired to request an extension! You must make your request in writing at least 7 days before the voucher expires. There is no guarantee that your request for an extension will be approved. Our policy for extensions may change at any time. However, in general, extensions may be approved if:
- You have conducted a housing search and have a list of rentals you contacted to document your search, or:
- You are a person with disabilities and your doctor verifies that your disability prevented you from searching for housing or arranging help to find housing.