What is the Housing Choice Voucher Program?
The Housing Choice Voucher Program (sometimes referred to as “Section 8”) is the largest federal low-income housing assistance program. Families are awarded vouchers to help pay the cost of renting housing on the open market. Because vouchers are provided to particular tenants to live where they choose, they are often referred to as “tenant-based” assistance. The voucher program is funded at the federal level by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). At the local level, the program is operated by Public Housing Authorities. The Section 8 program was established in 1974. In 1998, Congress merged the two components of the tenant-based Section 8 program – certificates and vouchers – into a single housing program (Housing Choice Voucher Program). There are thousands of housing authorities across the United States and its territories and each administer different geographical jurisdictions. Huntsville Housing Authority’s jurisdiction is Madison County. Families can pay up to 40% of their annual adjusted income toward the rental of the unit to the owner. The Housing Authority makes monthly payments directly to the owner on behalf of the family. The “Housing Assistance Payment” is the difference between the tenant’s portion and the actual rent. The family negotiates directly with the landlord to secure rental accommodations that best suits their need. The unit must meet HUD Housing Quality Standards and pass inspection before a contract is executed between the Housing Authority.
What are the procedures to place my rental unit under HHA’s HCV Program?
The first step is to list your unit on www.gosection8.com Landlords will need to create a user name and password, and safeguard the information for future use. The following basic information on the property is required:
(1) contact information of the landlord or manager, (2) property location, property information (i.e., rent, deposit, square footage, year built, bedrooms…etc.) and (3) amenities and accessibility.
Also, for gosection8.com, a hard copy of the form is available at our main office at 200 Washington Street, for you to complete and fax or mail the form to GoSection8
at 561-416-9848 or mailed to P. O. Box 2345, Boca Raton, FL 33427.
What information must be provided to HHA in order to participate?
The following must be on file in the Assisted Housing Department before an inspection will be scheduled or a contract completed:
Proof of Ownership
(i.e., deed, mortgage papers, or current property tax receipt; the verification must show the owner’s name and the property’s address)
W-9 Form completed and signed by actual owner (only one name per SSN or EIN)
Direct Deposit Authorization Form completed and signed; please attach a voided check
Management Agreement, if applicable a file will be maintained in the Assisted Housing Department for each active owner containing this information.
Forms are available by clicking the “Related Documents” tab at left.
Does HHA screen residents for suitability and know if they will make a good resident?
No. It is the owner’s/landlord’s responsibility to screen and select their resident. Obtain references from individuals and perform any other necessary background checks the same as a private market unassisted resident. HHA screens applicants for eligibility to participate in the HCV Program. We do conduct criminal background checks with the local police department. Approved participants have been issued a Housing Choice Voucher. You may
ask to see their Voucher as verification of their eligibility.
What are the requirements for rental unit inspections and how do I get an inspection?
The unit must meet Housing Quality Standards (HQS) as defined by the U. S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), and the City of Huntsville’s housing code ordinance. A pre-inspection checklist is available in the “Related Documents” area. The HCV Program participant will have a “Request for Tenancy Approval” form for you to complete. The participant is responsible for submitting the completed form. When HHA receives the form, the affordability rule will be applied and rent reasonableness performed. Upon passing both tests, an inspection will be scheduled. Units will also be inspected at least annually or biennially to ensure program compliance.
When can the family move into my unit?
HHA does not recommend or encourage allowing a family to physically move into a unit
prior to the unit passing the inspection. If the family moves into a unit prior to the unit
passing an inspection, the family is responsible for 100% of the rent until the unit passes
inspection and has obtained utility service in their name.
After the unit passes inspection, when will the contract be ready and when will I receive it?
When the unit passes an inspection and HHA receives a utility verification from
the resident, the contract can be completed and you will be notified. Based on time of month the contract is signed you should receive payment, by direct deposit, no later than the 3rd business day of the following month.
Can the owner collect an application fee and/or a security deposit?
Yes, it is the families’ responsibility to pay any application fee and/or security deposit. HHA is not responsible for any fees, deposits, or for damages incurred by the resident family. It is prohibited to collect security deposits that are in excess of one (1) month’s rent, or in excess of security deposits for the owner’s unassisted units.
How much rent can I charge?
The rent must be reasonable compared to other rental property in the same area and rent for assisted families must not be more than rent required of unassisted families. Also, the rent must be affordable for the family, which means their portion cannot be more than 40% of their monthly income.
What portion of the rent will be paid by HHA?
The HCV Program subsidizes rent. The resident pays a portion of the rent based upon their family income, generally 30-40% of their monthly-adjusted income. Their portion is paid directly to you and HHA’s portion is made by direct deposit. HHA only pays the portion of the rent stated in the Housing Assistance Payments (HAP) Contract. HHA will notify both the resident and the owner/landlord if the amount due from the resident changes.
What do I do if the resident causes damage to the rental unit or doesn’t pay their portion of the rent? Does HCV Program evict residents from the unit?
Owners/Landlords should follow the same procedure as they would with a private market unassisted resident. The resident is responsible for any unpaid rent and/or damages that exceed the security deposit. The owner/landlord is the only one that can evict a resident and must do so in accordance with state and local laws. The owner/landlord must advise the HHA at the beginning of the eviction process by submitting a copy of the initial notice.
How do I request a rent increase?
A rent increase must be requested by submitting the Rent Increase Request form available on our website at least 60 days prior to the effective date of the increase. Upon receipt of the request, the HQS Inspector will evaluate for approval/rent reasonableness. The owner must also notify the resident, in writing, of the increase being requested. Once approved a new lease must be executed and submitted to HHA.
What is the relationship between the owner/landlord and HCV?
HHA enters into a contract with the owner/landlord, approves leases for HCV participants to provide assistance, certifies and re-certifies residents, approves the unit, issues housing assistance payments to the owner, monitors program performance, and complies with federal and local laws. The owner/landlord selects the resident, enters into a lease agreement with the resident, receives housing assistance payments, collects the resident’s portion of the rent, complies with HUD/HHA requirements, maintains property, and enforces the lease.
If I have more than one unit must I rent them all to HCV participants?
No, as long as you do not discriminate under the Fair Housing Act.
What if I sell the house?
You must notify the resident and the HHA office of the transaction and provide documents that reflect the sale. Also, provide the name and phone number of the new owner. If the contract is within the first year, the new owner must honor the contract until its expiration. If the resident must vacate upon the sale of the unit; a written notice must be given to the resident at least sixty (60) days prior to vacate date, and a copy of the notice must be sent to email@example.com or faxed to 256-539-5982.
So what’s in this for me?
As a landlord, if you rent to someone without a Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) and they lose their source of income, they probably will not be able to pay the rent. If you rent to a HCV family and they lose their income, HHA will pay the rent. We also provide free advertising with GoSection8.com. HHA inspects your unit at least annually or biennially to ensure its safety. And you have the opportunity to make a difference in the life of an elderly, disabled, or low income family by providing decent, safe and affordable housing.