Q. What are some of the benefits for Section 8 participation?
A. One of the reasons for the program’s success is that owners like you have taken time to learn the rules and have recognized some of the benefits of becoming a participating landlord. Over the years, many owners and property managers have come to appreciate the advantages of having a contracted monthly assistance payment as well as minimum inspection standards. Keeping your property consistently well maintained helps ensure both its resale value and its appeal to prospective tenants when a family moves out.
The Section 8 Program has also introduced many novice property owners to key property management principles regarding tenant selection and lease enforcement, and it has helped others develop better building maintenance skills.
Q. How are UMHA and tenant portions of rent determined?
A. UMHA calculates the maximum amount of housing assistance allowable. 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.
Q. Who makes the rental payment and when may an owner expect to receive the payment?
A. If you decide to participate in the program be prepared to furnish proof of legal ownership of the unit. This is one of HUD’s requirements for the program.
We will begin making payments to you after the tenancy has been approved and the Housing Assistance Contract has been signed. We will mail a payment on or about the first of each month and will continue to make payments as long as the following conditions are met:
- The unit meets Housing Quality Standards
- The tenant is eligible for assistance
- The tenant resides in the unit
- The owner is in compliance with the contract
Family Payments to Owner
The family is responsible for paying the difference between the housing authority’s payment amount and the total rent to owner for the unit. It is the owner’s responsibility to collect any portion of the rent payable by the family.
Q. How much may be charged for rent?
A. Section 8 Caseworkers evaluate rent reasonableness of the housing unit. The proposed rent will be compared to the rent for other units on the market of similar size, features, and amenities.
Although there are no HUD “ceilings” on the rents charged in the voucher program, rents must still be reasonable and comparable to those charged for similar unassisted units. The housing authority bases the determination of reasonableness and comparability on rental market information.
Q. Are rent increases allowed?
A. After the initial term of the lease, the owner may increase the rent with 60-day notice to the family and the housing authority. The proposed increase must be reasonable. Remember, your lease must allow for rent increases after the initial term. Any increase cannot make the rent greater than that charged for comparable unassisted units.
Q. May landlords collect a security deposit?
A. The owner may collect a security deposit. The Housing Authority has the discretion to prohibit security deposits that are in excess of either private market practice or the security deposits for the owner’s unassisted units.
Q. Who selects and screens the tenants?
A. Even though a family is determined by the housing authority to be eligible for the program, the owner must approve the tenant as a suitable renter. The housing authority knows that the owner has approved a family when a Request for Tenancy Approval form is submitted.
It is the owner’s responsibility to screen families who are interested in renting their units.
- Consider a family’s background regarding factors such as:
- Paying rent and utility bills
- Caring for property
- Respecting the rights of others to peaceful enjoyment of their residences
- Engaging in drug-related criminal activity or other criminal activity that is a threat to life, safety, or the property of others
- Compliance with other essential conditions of tenancy
Screen the family
When you are contacted by a prospective renter, evaluate him or her as you would any other renter.
Make sure that your tenant selection standards are based on objective, business-related considerations, such as previous history of nonpayment, damage to property, or disturbance of neighbors.
Owners must apply the same standards of tenant selection to any family that applies, whether the family is a prospective Section 8 renter or not. Tenant selection must not be based upon race, color, age, religion, sex, familial status, disability, or any other discriminatory factors.
The housing authority does not screen families for their suitability as renters. That is the job of the owner.
Q. May landlords evict a Section 8 tenant?
A. During the term of the lease, the owner may terminate tenancy only for:
- Serious or repeated violations of the terms and conditions of the lease, including, but not limited to, failure to pay rent or other amounts due under the lease.
- Violations of federal, state, or local law that impose obligation on the tenant in connection with the use or occupancy of the unit or premises.
Other good causes, such as the following:
- Failure by the family to accept the offer of a new or revised lease.
- Family history of disturbances of neighbors, destruction of property, or living or house keeping habits resulting in damage to the unit or premises.
The owner’s desire to use the unit for personal or family use or for non-residential purposes. Business or economic reasons, such as sale of the property, renovation of the unit, or a desire to lease the unit at a higher rent.
The owner may not terminate for “good cause” during the initial term of the lease unless the cause is something that the family did or failed to do. At the end of the initial term or at the end of any successive definite term, the owner may terminate the lease without cause.
Q. Who is responsible for unpaid tenant rent and damages?
A. You should treat your tenants as you would any other renter, and enforce your lease. Your cooperation is essential to the housing authority being able to serve you and any family you may select as a renter. Please notify us if the tenant is violated their lease and make sure to give us a copy of any notification you give to the tenant or any notices given to you by the court.
Q. May an owner sell a property occupied by a Section 8 tenant?
A. As a provision in the HAP contract, the owner may not assign the contract to a new owner without the prior written consent of the housing authority. Therefore you must notify us if you put the property on the market for sale.
Your housing authority representative will provide you with a form to complete if the ownership or management of a property changes. Be prepared to provide all pertinent information requested to document the change.
Q. What terms should I know?
A. Family Rent to Owner: The amount payable monthly by a family as rent to an owner in a Section 8 program.
Gross Rent: The sum of the rent to owner plus any utility allowance. If there are no tenant-paid utilities the gross rent equals the rent to owner.
Head of Household: The person who assumes legal and financial responsibility for a household and is listed on the housing application as its head.
Housing Assistance Payment (HAP): The monthly assistance payment by the housing authority.
Housing Assistance Payments (HAP) Contract: A written agreement between a housing authority and an owner for the purpose of providing housing assistance payments to the owner on behalf of an eligible family.
Housing Quality Standards (HQS): The HUD minimum quality standards for housing assisted under the Section 8 program.
Premises: The building or complex in which a unit is located, including common areas and grounds.
Reasonable Rent: A rent to owner that is not more than either:
- The rent charged for comparable units in the private unassisted market or
- The rent charged by the owner for a comparable unassisted unit in the building or on the premises.
Rent to Owner: The monthly rent payable to the owner under the lease. Rent to owner includes payment for any services, maintenance, and utilities to be provided by the owner in accordance with the lease.