Frequently Asked Questions
WHAT IS THE HOUSING CHOICE VOUCHER PROGRAM (SECTION 8)?
The Housing Choice Voucher Program (Section 8) assists low-income families in the private rental market through Housing Assistance Payments (HAP). This assistance makes market rate housing affordable. Program participants typically pay no more than 40% of monthly-adjusted income towards rent and utilities. The Housing Authority pays the balance of the rent to the property owner.
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS TO A LANDLORD?
- Having a contracted monthly assistance payment deposited directly into your bank account
- Less chance of tenants defaulting on their rent. If the tenant’s income decreases, the HAP may increase
- Minimal paperwork is required to get set up and landlords use their own lease and screening process
- Inspections done by the Housing Authority will help you be aware of maintenance issues at your property
WHAT IS REQUIRED TO BE AN HCV ELIGIBLE LANDLORD?
- Verification of property ownership
- Property taxes must be current
- You may not have unpaid debt to the Housing Authority
- Bank Account Information for Electric Funds Transfer (EFT) to receive HAP
- A valid property management agreement if you are an agent for an owner
HOW DO I BECOME A LANDLORD WITH THE HOUSING CHOICE VOUCHER PROGRAM?
When an applicant with a voucher applies for your unit, you are responsible for following your standard application screening process to determine suitability. Once you have approved the applicants to rent the unit, you will complete the request for tenancy approval packet (RFTA) provided by the applicant and return it to the Housing Authority with a copy of your unexecuted lease. If you are a contracted property management firm, you will also need to provide a copy of your management agreement with the property owner. Once your paperwork has been received, our Landlord Liaison will create a vendor record for your property and will send you instructions for setting up direct deposit (EFT) through our online landlord portal, Rent Café.
Once the RFTA has been processed and initial determination of rent reasonableness has been conducted, one of our inspectors will contact you to schedule the physical inspection of the unit. The physical inspection is followed by a final review of rent reasonableness. If your unit passes inspection and is determined rent reasonable, you will be notified by the applicant’s Certification Specialist to proceed with signing a lease. If your unit does not pass the inspection, you will receive written notice of failed items and a follow up inspection will be scheduled.
Please refer to "What is required for Housing Quality Standards?" below for more information on inspections.
Once the unit has been approved and the lease has been signed, the tenant’s Certification Specialist will email you the HAP contract for signing.
HAVE THE TENANTS BEEN SCREENED BY EHA TO ENSURE THEY ARE RELIABLE?
Owners have the responsibility to screen the tenants, check references, and take all steps necessary to be sure that a prospective tenant is acceptable. EHA can provide you with the name of the current landlord, the previous landlord, and the tenant’s current address (if known).
CAN A SECURITY DEPOSIT BE REQUIRED?
Landlords are permitted to collect a security deposit. However, the Housing Agency prohibits security deposits in excess of private practice, or in excess of amounts charged to unassisted units.
WHAT TYPE OF LEASE SHOULD BE USED? WHAT ABOUT ANY SPECIAL CLAUSES WHICH NEED TO BE ADDED TO THE LEASE?
At initial lease up EHA requires a 12-month lease. The owner will be responsible for preparing the lease with the tenant and for sending a copy of the lease to EHA. As part of the basic HUD requirements, the Tenancy Addendum is to be attached to the lease.
DO I COLLECT LAST MONTH'S RENT?
Landlords do not need to collect last month's rent at the initial lease up because our HAP Contract guarantees that we will pay our portion through the last month of the tenancy under the HAP contract.
LEASE - WHAT TYPE OF LEASE SHOULD BE USED? WHAT ABOUT ANY SPECIAL CLAUSES WHICH NEED TO BE ADDED TO THE LEASE?
At initial lease up, EHA requires a 12-month lease. The owner will be responsible for preparing the lease with the tenant and for sending a copy of the lease to EHA. As part of the basic HUD requirements, the Tenancy Addendum is to be attached to the lease.
HOW WILL I RECEIVE RENT FOR MY HOUSING CHOICE VOUCHER (SECTION 8) TENANT?
The Housing Authority Payment (HAP) is made by direct deposit. The tenants are responsible for paying their rental portion directly to you. You will receive a letter which details how much rent the Housing Authority will pay and how much the tenant is responsible for. Landlords should collect the tenant portion of the rent in accordance with the terms of their lease.
CAN THE HAP PORTION CHANGE?
Yes. If the tenant’s income changes, both the rent payments from the tenant and EHA can be adjusted, but the total rent the owner receives remains the same until a new contract rent has been approved by EHA.
WHO IS RESPONSIBLE FOR ENSURING THAT THE TENANT PAYS THE RENT ON TIME?
The tenant is responsible for paying the rent and the owner is responsible for enforcing the lease if the tenant fails to do so. Any notices issued for non-payment or non-compliance must also be sent to the Housing Authority.
WHEN WILL I RECEIVE THE HOUSING AUTHORITY PAYMENT?
EHA issues payments once a month and in time for the coming month so that electronic funds will be in your account on the third business day of the month.
If a new lease begins in the middle of the month, EHA will prorate the rent based on a 30-day month. The prorated amount will be received with your first full month’s rent.
Please note, EHA cannot issue the first HAP payment for a tenant until the signed HAP contract and lease have been received. The landlord will receive payment at the beginning of the month following the month in which the signed lease and HAP contract are received. Per the HAP contract, EHA has up to two months to issue the first HAP payment. However, rent will be paid from the HAP contract start date. After this initial payment, landlords will receive regular monthly payments by the third business day.
MAY I INCREASE THE RENT I CHARGE MY HOUSING CHOICE VOUCHER (SECTION 8) TENANT?
Yes, after the initial 12-month lease term has ended you may change the rent and the terms of the lease. To do so, you must submit written notification to the Everett Housing Authority at least 60 days before the proposed effective date of the increase. The request must be completed using our approved rent increase request form. (EXAMPLE: If you wish to increase the tenant's rent on January 1, your written notice must be received by EHA no later than November 1). You can access the increase request form through the Rent Café portal. Instructions for returning the form are provided at the top.
If your rent increase is approved, you will receive an updated rent letter from the Housing Authority at least 30-days prior to the effective date of the increase.
If your rent increase is denied, the Housing Authority will provide you with written notice and advise you of the maximum increase that can be approved for your unit. You will then have the option of accepting the lower amount or issuing a notice to terminate tenancy to the tenants in accordance with state and local tenancy laws. The tenant also has the option of removing themselves from the program and paying 100% of the rent if they prefer to remain in the unit.
HOW MUCH RENT MAY I CHARGE A TENANT WITH A HOUSING CHOICE VOUCHER?
The rent charged must be reasonable. The HUD definition of a reasonable rent is one that does not exceed the rent charged for comparable, unassisted units in the same market area. HUD also requires that owners not charge more for assisted units than for comparable units on the premises. The only exception to this rule is for units assisted under the LIHTC (Low Income Housing Tax Credit) program.
Additionally, at move-in the tenant's portion of the rent may not exceed 40% of their adjusted monthly income. The Housing Choice Voucher program pays the difference between 30% of a client's adjusted monthly income and the payment standard. Any rent charged that is above the payment standard is paid solely by the tenant. HUD regulations allow tenants to spend up to 40% of their adjusted monthly income on rent at move-in. Anything higher than 40% is considered unaffordable and cannot be approved by the Housing Authority. After the initial 12-month lease term, this affordability rule no longer applies, and the Housing Authority can approve any rent that the Housing Authority determines is reasonable.
HOW DOES EHA DETERMINE WHETHER OR NOT RENT IS REASONABLE?
In making the rent reasonableness determination, EHA takes into account the following, HUD-prescribed variables:
- Location and age of the unit
- Unit size including the square footage and number of bedrooms
- The type of unit (structure type)
- The quality of the unit including original construction, maintenance and improvements made
- Amenities, services and utilities included in the rent
EHA utilizes Go Section 8 to conduct rent reasonableness. As a property owner, you can utilize their service to advertise an available unit. A link to their website is here: https://www.gosection8.com/.
A RENT INCREASE I REQUESTED WAS DENIED, WHAT ARE MY OPTIONS?
- The owner may accept the amount of rent that was deemed reasonable by EHA
- The owner may submit information about other comparable units in the market area within 5 business days of the determination. EHA will confirm the accuracy of the information and may consider it when making a final rent determination.
- The owner may refuse to accept the reasonable rent as determined by the Housing Authority and give the tenant appropriate legal notice to vacate the premises.
- Under the terms of the HAP contract the owner may not charge the tenant for the additional rent.
I REQUESTED A RENT THAT IS LOWER THAN THE CURRENT EHA PAYMENT STANDARD, WHY WAS IT DENIED?
The payment standards define the highest amount EHA will pay each month to help a tenant with rent, they are not indicative of the value of a specific housing unit. The payment standards are based on current average market rent rates for a geographic area that includes locations with more expensive housing than EHA's jurisdiction.
The rent that you request for your unit should not be based on the EHA payment standard, it should be based on how much the unit is worth in the current rental market regardless of whether or not the tenant has a Housing Choice Voucher.
HOW DO I ACCESS MY RENT CAFE ACCOUNT?
To access the Rent Café landlord portal, click the link below. Your username will be the email address you used to create your account. If you do not remember your password, click on the blue hyperlink “forgot password?” from the login page. Instructions for resetting your password will be emailed to you. For additional assistance accessing your Rent Café account, please contact our Landlord Liaison at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 425 258-9222.
HOW DO I CONTACT MY TENANT'S CERTIFICATION SPECIALIST?
Log in to your Rent Café account and click on the tab “Caseworker Info.” The name, phone number and email address for each of your EHA tenants’ Certification Specialists will be listed.
I JUST SOLD MY RENTAL UNIT THAT IS UNDER CONTRACT WITH THE HOUSING AUTHORITY, WHAT DO I NEED TO DO?
- Provide written notice to the tenant
- Notify the Landlord Liaison at email@example.com
- Inform the buyer that they need to contact EHA immediately for further instructions
I AM PURCHASING A RENTAL UNIT THAT HAS AN HCV TENANT, WHAT DO I NEED TO DO IF...
I want to occupy the unit:
Under Washington state law, no terms of the lease can be changed except by mutual agreement, and the lease must be honored through the entire term unless the property is foreclosed on during the lease term, and the new owner wishes to occupy the home as their primary residence. In the event of a month-to-month lease, you must provide the tenant with written 20-day notice to terminate tenancy. You must also provide the Housing Authority with a copy of the notice to terminate tenancy.
I want to continue renting the unit:
Contact our Vendor Liaison at firstname.lastname@example.org with the following information:
- Date of sale
- Name of buyer (personal or business name)
- Your email address and phone number
Documents will be sent to you to collect additional information so that we can verify ownership. Please refer to the section “What is required to be an HCV eligible landlord?” above for more information.
WHAT IS THE PURPOSE OF HOUSING QUALITY STANDARDS?
The goal of the Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) program is to provide “decent, safe and sanitary” housing at an affordable cost to low-income families. Housing Quality Standards help HUD and local Public Housing Authorities (PHAs) accomplish that goal by defining “standard housing” and establishing the minimum quality criteria necessary for the health and safety of program participants. All HCV housing units must meet these housing quality standards in order to participate in the HCV program.
WHAT ARE THE 13 KEY ASPECTS OF HOUSING QUALITY COVERED BY PERFORMANCE REQUIREMENTS AND ACCEPTABILITY CRITERIA IN THE HQS?
The 13 key aspects of housing quality covered by the HQS include:
- Sanitary facilities
- Food preparation and refuse disposal
- Space and security
- Thermal environment
- Illumination and electricity
- Structure and materials
- Interior air quality
- Water supply
- Lead-based paint
- Site and neighborhood
- Sanitary condition
- Smoke Detectors
HOW ARE HOUSING QUALITY STANDARDS ENFORCED?
HQS inspections are conducted by PHA staff and contractors to ensure that potential and current HCV housing units meet the minimum performance and acceptability criteria for each of the 13 key housing quality aspects.
WHEN DO HQS INSPECTIONS OCCUR?
HQS inspections come in three different varieties. Initial Inspections occur when a voucher holder indicates to their PHA that they desire to lease a specific housing unit. The unit must pass the initial inspection before the execution of the assisted lease and housing assistance payments (HAP) contract and the initiation of payments. Biannual inspections occur once every two years on housing units that are currently under lease by an HCV participant family. Biannual inspections ensure that HCV housing units continue to meet HQS throughout the tenancy of the HCV participant family. Special inspections may be complaint inspections or quality control inspections. Complaint inspections occur when a tenant, owner, or member of the public complains about the condition of an HCV housing unit. Quality control inspections examine a sample of housing units within a given PHA’s jurisdiction each year to verify the work of the inspectors and occur throughout the year.