Housing Choice Voucher Program - Landlord Issues and Concerns

Rent Issues:

Q: Why does KMHA pay all the rent form some families and very little on others?
A: Amount paid depends on the income and composition of the family, applicable income deductions, and rent / utility amounts.

Q: How do I know what rent to ask?
A: You would ask the same rent as you would if the unit were unassisted. It is against HUD regulations to inflate the rent because the owner is putting the unit “on Metro.” If, as a landlord you are unsure of what rent to ask, check other similar units in the area, and ask a comparable rent that is reasonable.

Q: Why did KMHA ask me to lower a rent?
A: If we ask you to lower a rent, most often the reason is that the rent is too high for the selected family. At lease-up HUD prohibits us from leasing a unit where the family will pay more than 40% of their income toward rent and utilities. This is called the 40% Tenant Rent Burden Rule. Rather than rejecting your unit outright, the occupancy person handling your unit will always see if you are willing to lower the rent a certain amount. As a landlord you have the option to accept or reject. We want you to have that decision.

Q: What happens to the family if I won’t lower the rent?
A: The unit in question is voided for that family, and you have the option to select another. The rejected family can search for another unit, if they have search time on their voucher.

Q: If we can’t agree on a rent, can’t I as landlord just charge the tenant more “on the side”?
A: NO. HUD has strict regulations on this issue, and is explicit in telling the housing authority that we should terminate the HAP Contract where this practice is going on. If KMHA and the landlord cannot negotiate a rent that works for all parties, we will have to agree that the unit in question cannot work on the Section 8 program.
In some cases, HUD does allow side payments for other-than-rent situations, for example, a monthly charge for a washer and dryer a landlord may provide. Check with KMHA on the particular case, and be sure to keep such payments separate from the rent, so there is no confusion.

Q: Are some rents too high the Section 8 program?
A. They can be. Rents on the Section 8 program are affected by the Payment Standard, a figure that represents average rent for a unit in our area. We use the Payment Standard to calculate the maximum subsidy for a family. If the unit rent is significantly over the Payment Standard, the family will have to pay that “overage,” and the unit will be too expensive for them even with our help. The Section 8 program is designed to work with average rent units.

Q: Suppose I want to increase the rent?
A: Rent can be increased after the first year of the lease. The lease is binding for tenant and landlord for the first year, and once set, the rent cannot be changed during that year. After that time, however, the owner can increase the rent a reasonable amount in line with comparable units. The tenant must have a 60-day notice of the increase.

Q: In the event of the increase, can I make sure that KMHA, and not the tenant, covers it?
A: The rent calculation that we do dictates who (KMHA, tenant, or both) will cover the increase. This depends on a number of factors.

Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) Issues:

Q: Once a unit is on the program, how soon will I receive my HAP check?
A: As soon as the leases and HAP Contract are signed by all parties, a check for the Housing Assistance Payment is cut, and sent to you. Generally, you will receive the check in three to six days after signing is complete.

Q: Why would the amount of the HAP check change?
A: Changes to the family’s income or composition could cause a recalculation of assistance to be done. KMHA calls this an interim change. Annually KMHA is required to re-verify the family’s income and composition and to re-inspect the unit even if there have been no interim changes. This process is called recertification. At this time the HAP amount may change because of family income or composition changes, payment standard changes, or rent / utility adjustments. Any time there is a change in the amount of HAP, both the family and owner are notified of the old and new amounts, and the effective date of the change.

Lease Issues:

Q: What about security deposits?
A: You may collect a security deposit in the same manner and amount as you would for an unassisted tenant. Unfortunately, we DO NOT have funds to help families with security deposits, and sometimes families have trouble coming up with the money. In some cases, we know landlords have allowed a family to make payments on the deposit after move-in, but that is strictly up to the landlord. At move-out the security deposit is subject to provisions or Ohio Tenant-Landlord law, just as with an unassisted tenant.

Q: What happens if a tenant damages a unit?
A: While a family is under lease, they are responsible for keeping the unit in good condition, understanding that any unit will show some normal wear & tear. Landlords are NOT responsible for tenant-caused damage that causes a unit to fail HQS inspection, and this includes shut-off utilities that are tenant responsibility. At move-out, damage beyond normal wear & tear is treated in the same way as an unassisted unit; that is, the security deposit is applied to the damages. If damages exceed the deposit, the tenant owes the landlord. If KMHA is moving the tenant to another assisted unit, we will decline to lease the tenant up at another unit, if there are undisputed damage amounts owed to the landlord of the original unit.

Q: When is the lease terminated?
A: The two lease documents, Resident Lease and HUD Lease Addendum, are documents between the tenant family and owner. The lease is binding for the first year, unless landlord and tenant voluntarily agree to sign a “mutual rescission” of the lease. After the first year, the lease continues on a month-to-month basis, and either party can end the lease with a 30-day notice to the other. Of course, the landlord always has the right to evict for lease violations.

Q: What about pets?
A: This is much the same as an unassisted lease. You reserve the right to decide if your tenant may keep pets.

Q: A tenant on the program wants to move, but owes the landlord back rent. How is this handled?
A: If the tenant family intends to move with assistance and KMHA knows that undisputed rent is owing, we will decline to execute a new lease and contract until the family has paid the owed rent, unless the back rent was incurred before the unit was assisted by KMHA.

Family Eligibility Issues:

Q: What happens if the renting family’s income exceeds the income eligibility level?
A: If a family’s income goes up enough that they are paying all the rent, and KMHA is paying none ($0.00 HAP), the family will remain on the program for six months (according to the HAP Contract). After that, they drop off our program and the HAP Contract automatically ends, but they may continue to live in your unit under lease with you, continuing to pay all the rent. Often families’ income goes up and down, because of lay-offs, etc., so they may pay all the rent for several months, but then have an income drop to where we start paying part of the rent again.

Q: What happens if you kick a tenant off the program?
A: The term is “termination.” We may terminate a family for failure to fulfill their Family Obligations, for fraud, or for crimes involving drugs or violent criminal activity. In cases where we terminate, we forward tenant correspondence to the landlord, so you are informed of the situation. Families have a right to dispute a termination. If successfully terminated, the HAP Contract ends. The owner may continue the lease, or ask the family to move, or may have to evict the family.

Q: Can a tenant decide to quit the program?
A: Yes. The action is called a “no longer desire assistance,” and KMHA asks the family to complete paperwork in our office informing us of the expected date of withdrawal. We can then notify the owner of the date the assistance will end. The owner can continue to rent to that tenant with the tenant paying all the rent. KMHA’s assistance will end.

Q: Is there a “time limit” on the assistance?
A: There is no time limit. Other factors have the effect of ending assistance, such as an increase in the family income to where they can pay all their rent; the family leaving the program voluntarily or moving; or owner or KMHA ending the HAP Contract. Some of our fixed income families have been on our assistance for years, in the same unit. Other families need our assistance for a much shorter time.

Housing Quality Standards (HQS) Issues:

Q: The KMHA inspector has given the owner 30 days to make needed repairs, but I need more time. What to do?
A: An owner can ask the inspector for an extension for legitimate reasons, such as backordered items, or waiting for contracted repairs. It is the discretion of the inspector to grant extensions. If the unit is not yet under contract, the HAP Contract cannot be executed (and HAP Payments started) until the unit passes inspection.

Q: What about exterior paint that is cited for repair in the winter months?
A: The inspector may grant a paint waiver until June 15 of the next spring to complete exterior paintwork. In that case the HAP Contract can be executed with all fail items repaired except exterior paint. The paint must then be repaired by the June 15 date to keep the HAP Contract in force.
****************THIS APPLIES ONLY TO EXISTING UNITS, ANNUAL INSPECTIONS****************

Q: Does KMHA check for lead-based paint?
A: KMHA has some regulations that apply to pre-1978 units. See section on Lead Paint on Section 8 Housing.

Other Owner Issues:

Q: Occasionally I see a newspaper ad that advertises a “Metro-approved unit.” What is this?
A: A misnomer by the advertiser. No unit is “Metro-approved” until we approve it for your chosen tenant. If that tenant moves, KMHA will inspect again for the new tenant. The advertiser probably means that he will accept a KMHA Voucher Holder, and perhaps the unit has passed an inspection in the past, but a better ad term would be “Accepts KMHA Vouchers.”

Q: Does Ohio Tenant-Landlord Law apply to the Section 8 program?
A: Yes, it will apply as it would in a non-program unit. The lease is between you and the tenant, subject to tenant-landlord law provisions, and the litigation actions of court.

Q: Why does KMHA need my Social Security number?
A: We are required to get either a SSN or a Federal Identification Number (FID) in order to make HAP Payments to you. At the end of the year, we will issue a 1099 for the amount of the HAP paid to you, and the IRS requires an SSN or FID for the 1099.

Q: What are the advantages of participating in KMHA’s program?
A: The security of knowing that the KMHA HAP check will arrive every month it is owned and terms of the contract met. Program gives the tenant a more manageable rent that evens out the changes in a family’s income. The binding lease during the first year discourages moves. Program encourages owners to select tenant of their choice. Inspection process certifies the unit as being safe and decent, and provides a structure around which ongoing maintenance can be scheduled. KMHA helps owners fill their vacant units by listing the unit on the “Available” list we provide to our searching Voucher Holders.      

Knox Metropolitan Housing Authority
201A West High Street
Mount Vernon, Ohio 43050

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