Housing Choice Voucher Program Guidelines
HOW DOES IT WORK?
The Voucher program provides rent subsidy so families who are eligible can afford rent for decent, affordable, safe and sanitary housing.
You will have 60 days to find a unit! The dwelling unit that you select must pass a housing quality standard inspection (HQS), and the rent must be approved by the agency. The Housing Authority will not approve a lease unless the rent is reasonable.
WHAT SHOULD I THINK ABOUT WHEN SELECTING A UNIT?
When selecting a unit there are a number of things you should consider. Here is a list of things to think about:
- The condition of the unit: Will it pass a Housing Quality Standard inspection.
- Is the rent a reasonable amount?
- Did I call the police department and ask about the crime rate?
- Did I talk to people living in the same area about the neighborhood?
- Is the neighborhood well kept? Are the surrounding homes in good repair and well kept yards? Is there a lot of graffiti?
- Is the dwelling unit close to bus lines, schools, where I work, and grocery stores?
- Is the dwelling unit in area with good schools and economic opportunities?
WHAT SIZE UNIT WILL I BE ABLE TO RENT?
The bedroom size that you receive is the smallest number of bedrooms needed to house your family without overcrowding. Generally, we grant one bedroom for each two persons, considering the relationship and gender of the family members. The Housing Authority may grant a reasonable accommodation if it is determined that an exception to this policy is required for a disabled person.
You can rent a larger size unit as long as the unit complies with minimum housing quality standards and is within the rent limitation of your voucher.
CAN I RENT FROM A MEMBER OF MY FAMILY? HUD prohibits you from renting from a relative. In addition, you may not have a financial interest in the unit (i.e., listed on the title, a beneficiary in the event of the death of the owner or receiving management fees.)
WILL I BE REQUIRED TO SIGN A LEASE? You will be required to sign a lease for ONE YEAR If you violate any of the sections of the lease, you can be evicted from the unit and terminated from the housing program. After the first year, you have the choice of signing another one year lease or extending your present lease.
If you decide to move, you must give a thirty (30) day written notice to the landlord and the Housing Authority. You must also obtain a clearance letter from your landlord.
WILL I BE REQUIRED TO PAY A SECURITY DEPOSIT? Your landlord can charge you the same deposit amount as charged to other tenants. You are responsible for paying this security deposit. Your landlord can use this security deposit for unpaid rent due by you, any damages to the unit or for other amounts you might owe under the lease. When you move, your landlord must give you a list of all items charged against the security deposit. If the security deposit is not sufficient to cover amounts that you might owe under the lease, your landlord may collect the balance from you. If you fail to pay any balance owed to a prior owner, you may be terminated from the program.
WHEN DOES YOUR RENT ASSISTANCE START? Your rent subsidy does not start until the first day after the UNIT PASSES INSPECTION and you have signed a lease with your landlord.
If your unit fails the first inspection, the failed items must be repaired or replaced. THE HOUSING INSPECTOR MUST BE NOTIFIED BEFORE A RE-INSPECTION WILL BE COMPLETED.
If you lease the unit prior to the date the unit passes inspection you will be responsible for the rent.
WHAT DOES “Rent Reasonableness” MEAN? We are required to certify to HUD that the rent being approved for the unit is reasonable for the type, size, age, location and amenities offered in the unit. In other words, we will not approve “top” rent for a unit not in the best condition and not in the more desirable part of town. When you look for a unit, check out other units in the area. What are they renting for? If they are less, we will probably not approve the rent.
WHAT ARE MY FAMILY OBLIGATIONS UNDER THIS PROGRAM?
- Notify the agency of any change in income or family composition in writing within fifteen days of the change. Requests to add a family member (not by birth) must be received and approved by both the agency and the owner prior to the member being allowed to reside in the dwelling unit.
- Any person who resides in the unit for more than 14 days in one year is not a guest.
- You must notify the agency in writing regarding an absence of any family member from the unit of more than 14 days.
- Supply any information that OHA determines necessary or required to verify eligibility, preferences, income, family composition or lease requirements, including but not limited to reporting all sources of income, income verifications, social security numbers, authorizations to release information, and documents to verify citizenship or eligible immigration status.
- All information that you supply to us must be true and complete.
- All adult members of the household are required to provide social security numbers and to sign all pertinent documents (Income disclosures, Authorizations to Release Information, Leases, etc.).
- Be present for and allow inspections of their dwelling unit when scheduled. On initial inspections, no rental subsidy will be authorized until the unit passes inspection. On renewals, subsidy may be stopped if the owner fails to correct deficiencies or you fail to correct damage. You must maintain the unit in clean and safe standards and repair or reimburse the owner for all damages within a reasonable time.
- Abide by the terms of the lease, including maintenance of utilities and payment of rent timely.
- You must report any eviction action against you to the agency within 3 days. If you are evicted, YOU WILL LOSE YOUR ASSISTANCE. If any member of your family has ever been evicted from Public Housing, a Federally Subsidized Unit or your assistance was terminated on either a certificate or voucher program, you may be denied assistance.
- You may not lease, sublease, assign or transfer the unit to any other person; you may not own or have any interest in the unit.
- You must notify both the agency and the landlord in writing at least 30 days prior to a move or in compliance with the lease notification terms.
- ONE STRIKE POLICY – No involvement in drug or violent criminal activity. If any family member is involved in a drug or violent criminal act while the family is residing on the program, the family will be terminated. If a drug related or violent crime occurs on your premises and either a family member or guest is involved, the family will be terminated.
- If you, any member of your household or guests commit any serious or repeated violations of your lease, YOU WILL LOSE YOUR ASSISTANCE.
- If you or any member of your household commit fraud, bribery or any other criminal act, you will be terminated.
- If you or any member of your family engage in or threaten abusive or violent behavior toward Housing Authority personnel, another tenant or an owner, YOU WILL LOSE YOUR ASSISTANCE.
MAINTENANCE PROBLEMS: If you have any maintenance problems with your unit, you need to notify your LANDLORD at once, preferably in writing, and SEND A COPY to the agency. Please give your landlord reasonable time to correct the problem. If your landlord does not respond to your request, in a reasonable amount of time, please notify the agency and we will take further action. Remember, the tenant is responsible for tenant damage.
PLEASE REMEMBER: You are responsible for keeping your unit free of maintenance and for repairing any damages that may be your fault. If your guests cause damages, you are responsible! We are not your landlord nor are we responsible for repairs of any kind.
CAN I HAVE VISITORS? CAN I LET PEOPLE MOVE INTO MY UNIT? You can have visitors. However, you should always check with your Housing Officer and your owner FIRST before having anyone stay in your unit for any length of time (Usually not over 14 days, but check the terms of your lease).
If you are planning on adding someone to your household, you MUST OBTAIN APPROVAL FROM BOTH THE AGENCY AND THE OWNER BEFORE YOU MOVE THAT PERSON INTO YOUR UNIT.
THINGS TO REMEMBER! Report to the agency ANY CHANGES that happen in your household (increase or decrease of income, family size, etc.) If you fail to report income changes and you owe the Housing Authority money....it is payable in full within 5 working days.
- If you no longer need our assistance you need to report this to us immediately. This needs to be IN WRITING to your landlord and to the Housing Authority.
- Pay your rent on time. Late charges can be costly!
- Make an appointment to see your worker. We do not see walk-ins.
- Take care of your dwelling unit.
- If you send anything or drop anything off...remember to put your name or social security number on the paper and ask the receptionist to give you a date stamped copy.
- DO NOT WAIT UNTIL THE LAST MINUTE, to provide us with any items that have been requested. THIS WILL DELAY YOUR RENT SUBSIDY PAYMENT.
- If you move from your unit without notifying the Housing Authority you will lose your assistance.
- REMEMBER ANY CHANGES ARE DUE WITHIN FIFTEEN (15) DAYS OF WHEN THE CHANGE BECAME EFFECTIVE. DECREASES MUST BE REPORTED IN WRITING BY THE 25TH OF ANY MONTH FOR THE NEXT MONTH’S RENT TO BE REDUCED.
- If you need legal advice, you need to contact Legal Services at (801) 394-9431. We do not give you legal advice.
WHAT IS THE FAMILY SELF SUFFICIENCY PROGRAM? The Family Self Sufficiency program (FSS) is designed for YOU. The FSS Program offers housing residents support and guidance as they work towards home ownership and freedom from all government assistance. You can receive financial counseling, clean up your credit, learn budgeting, discover community resources, GED or high school diploma, home ownership classes, job readiness workshops, job leads and resume writing. For more information, contact our FSS Coordinator at Extension 118.