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Landlords FAQ

1. What is the Section 8 Program?

The Section 8 Program is a form of federal rent subsidy which assists program participants with monthly rental payments to ensure that the families have a safe, decent and sanitary place to live. The HACMB administers funds received from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (U.S. HUD) and distributes them in the form of Section 8 Housing Choice Vouchers to eligible families and individuals.

A Voucher allows participating households (tenants) to rent housing that meets their needs. The tenant pays a portion of the rent directly to the landlord. U.S. HUD pays the landlord the difference between the tenant's portion of the rent and the total rental amount due.

Currently, the Section 8 Program assists over 2,800 households in the HACMB's jurisdiction.

2. How Does the Subsidy Work?

The HACMB reviews the eligibility of the tenant based on their income, criminal record and citizenship status. The tenant with a Voucher has 120 days to find housing. The dwelling unit they choose will have to pass inspection by HACMB staff before subsidy can begin.

3. What Happens Once I've Selected a Tenant?

Once you have selected a tenant you must complete their Request for Tenancy Approval (RFTA) form and submit it to our office along with proof of ownership, three (3) comparables and the rent roll. When the RFTA has been received, we will call you to schedule an inspection of the property. It is important that the tenant be present for this inspection. If the unit passes inspection and the rent is approved, you and the tenant sign the Lease, and you sign a concurrent Housing Assistance Payments Contract with the HACMB.

If the unit does not pass inspection, we will allow up to ten (10) working days for correction of the repair items. A re-check inspection will be necessary to confirm that the corrections have been made. Tenants have only 120 days to find housing before they risk losing their Voucher, so repairs must be made in a timely manner.

4. How is the Initial Contract Rent Determined?

The initial contract rent must be "rent reasonable" and the tenant's total payment cannot exceed more than 40% of their monthly adjusted income for the initial term of the contract.

"Rent reasonable" means that the total rent cannot be more than rent for similar units in the same general area or neighborhood. Criteria used to determine the rent include:
  • Which utilities will be paid by the owner;
  • The overall unit condition;
  • Any improvements made to the unit;
  • Comparison of similar rental units within that general area.
Please note that subsidized rents may not be more than non-subsidized rents for similar units.

5. Can I Collect a Security Deposit?

You are encouraged to collect a security deposit. However, the HACMB will prohibit security deposits that are in excess of private market practice or in excess of amounts you charge to unassisted tenants. Security deposits must be held in compliance with State and local laws regarding interest payments and disposition of deposits. It is the tenant's responsibility to pay the security deposit.

6. When is the Effective Date of Lease/Beginning of Subsidy?

The effective date of the Lease and Contract will be determined after all Housing Quality Standards violations have been corrected and the tenant has terminated any previous Contract and Lease.

If the Tenant is subsidized at another unit in an existing Lease and Contract, the tenant must return the keys to their previous unit to establish a termination date for that Lease and Contract.

If the tenant takes possession of your unit before the authorized start date, the tenant will be responsible for the full market rent until the effective date of the new Lease.

7. How Often Does the Housing Authority Conduct Unit Inspections?

The HACMB will conduct an annual inspection prior to the end of the Lease term to ensure the unit continues to meet Housing Quality Standards (HQS). You and your tenant will receive a letter from the HACMB if the unit does not pass inspection. The letter will list the items requiring repair and will give you a date by which the repairs must be corrected.

If the violations are not corrected within the time limit given, the HACMB will abate the Housing Assistance Payment.

The HACMB will not abate the rent if all of the Housing Quality Standards violations are tenant caused. However, the HACMB may terminate the tenant's assistance if tenant-caused HQS violations are not corrected. A 30-day notice will be provided to you and the tenant for any HACMB termination.

8. Can I Request Rent Increases?

You may request an annual rent increase. Rent increases are not automatic and must be requested in writing. The annual inspection must be current with no outstanding HQS violations. These are the requirements for rent increases:
  • Rent increases must be reasonable and be approved by the HACMB.
  • The tenant pays the increase in rent.
  • A written 60-day Notice must be served to the family and a copy to the HACMB.
When the rent increase has been approved, the HACMB will send you and the tenant a notice of change in rent with the effective date.

9. What Are The Tenant's Responsibilities?

The Lease is the binding agreement between you and the tenant which states the responsibilities of both parties, including the amount of the tenant rent, utility responsibility, and the security deposit.

By signing the Lease, the tenant is agreeing to abide by all of its terms, which include paying rent on time. Depending on the Lease, the tenant may be responsible for paying certain utilities. The tenant is expected to pay their portion of the rent by the first of each month as stated in the Lease.

The tenant family is also responsible for the cost of repairs for damage caused by them, a family member or a guest. The tenant is responsible for a breach of Housing Quality Standards caused by:
  • Failure to pay for utilities they are responsible for under the Lease;
  • Failure to provide and maintain the stove or refrigerator if provided by the tenant under the Lease;
  • Any family member or guest damaging the unit or premises beyond normal wear and tear.
The family's assistance may be terminated if they fail to correct HQS deficiencies they have caused.

The tenant family must also comply with certain "family obligations" with the HACMB in order to remain eligible for rental assistance. These obligations include, but are not limited to, providing current information to the HACMB on their family composition including any changes, and reporting all amounts and sources of income and assets, including any changes.

In addition, the tenant must provide at least a 30-day written notice to you and the HACMB before moving.

10. What Are My (Owner) Responsibilities?

As an owner, you are expected to provide a home that meets Housing Quality Standards. You are responsible for making repairs to the unit in a timely manner. Depending on the Lease, you may be responsible for paying certain utilities.

You are also responsible for collecting the tenant's portion of the rent each month. If the family does not pay rent or gets in the habit of paying late, you may not be doing them a favor by tolerating it. In addition, you could end up losing a lot of money. Act promptly and fairly if this occurs.

The only time you can request money from a tenant, outside of the approved monthly rental payments and security deposit, is for reimbursement for tenant-caused damages. We advise the tenant to call their Housing Specialist if any additional money is requested.

It is your responsibility to enforce your lease. The HACMB cannot do this for you. You have the right to serve a notice for serious violations of the Lease. If eviction is necessary, you must proceed according to state law. A copy of all notices to the tenant must also be sent to the HACMB.

11. What Is The HACMB's Responsibility?

The HACMB screens tenants for program eligibility based on income, citizenship and criminal background. We will instruct the tenant on their obligations under the program including their obligations to the HACMB and their responsibility to comply with their Lease.

The HACMB's portion of the rent will be direct deposited by the 5th day of the month. The HACMB is not responsible for collecting the tenant's portion of the rent or management of the property. This is your responsibility.

The HACMB provides a free unit listing service for owners who wish to make their rental units available to Voucher holders.

12. What If I Have More Questions?

If you have any questions about the Section 8 Program, please call our offices at (305) 532-6401, ext. 3010, between 8:30 A.M. and 5:00 P.M. Monday through Friday. We will be glad to answer your questions and refer you to the appropriate staff member as necessary.