Steps to Participate in the Program
Finding a Tenant
Eligible families are issued assistance and will approach you via ads you have put in the paper or rent signs placed in yards. You can also list your available property with the housing authority by completing a standard rental listing form. You will find the forms on the Agency Plans/Forms link at the bottom of the web page. Listing your property does not obligate you to rent to families with vouchers; it simply provides you the opportunity to advertise to them.
Determining Rent Amount
The rent requested must be comparable to similar, unassisted units in the area of the rental property. A rent reasonableness study will be conducted to determine if the requested rent is reasonable as compared to an unassisted unit when considering the location, quality, size, type, age, amenities, housing services, maintenance and utilities to be provided.
Approving a Tenant
Upon receiving calls from assisted families, you are encouraged to screen them on the basis of the family's tenancy history. The families are responsible for paying application fees and deposits. The Housing Authority of the City of Austin's admission of a family to participate in the program is not a representation by HACA about the family's expected behavior or the family's suitability for tenancy. HACA may provide to the owner a future tenant’s current and prior address as shown on HACA records and the name and address, if known, of a past landlord of this tenant. Such requests must be made in writing.
Agreement to Enter Lease
Once you have selected a person or family and collected the appropriate fees and deposits, you will need to complete the owner packet that will be provided by the prospective tenant. The packet includes a Request for Tenancy Approval (RTA), W9 Form, Tax ID Form, Lease Requirement Form, and Lead Based Paint Form. Complete the packet and return it to the housing authority. Once the owner packet is returned to the office, the counselor of the family will determine if the unit is affordable for the family.
If the family is moving into a new unit, they may not pay more than 40 percent of their adjusted monthly income toward rent and utilities. Upon receiving a voucher, each family is given a 40 percent form indicating the maximum contract rent they are able to afford. You can request to see this form from the family to verify their affordability to rent the unit before completing the owner packet.
Initial Inspection of the Unit
If the unit meets the affordability of the family a Housing Quality Standards (HQS) inspection will be requested. The inspection should be completed within five to seven business days after receipt of the completed RTA. An HQS inspector will contact the owner by phone to schedule the inspection. All utilities must be connected and the unit must be vacant before an initial inspection can be conducted. The requested rent amount must be reasonable as compared to other similar unassisted units in the area. The housing authority must approve all rents requested. See the HQS Checklist for more details about the inspection.
Signing the Housing Assistance Payment Contract (HAP) and lease
After the unit passes an HQS inspection and the rent amount is approved, the rent portions will be calculated and the Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) contract will be prepared. It will take an average of five to ten days after the unit passes inspection to prepare this paperwork. A notice will be sent to the owner and tenant. The notice will indicate the approved rent amount, effective date, the family's rent portion and the housing assistance payment amount. Housing Assistance Payments will not begin until the Housing Assistance Payment Contract is signed and a signed lease is received.
The following defines the lease requirements under the HCV Program:
- The lease between tenant and owner must be in a standard form used by the owner and generally used for other unassisted tenants in the premises or locality.
- The terms and conditions of the lease must be consistent with state and local law.
- The lease must specify utilities and appliances supplied by the owner and utilities and appliances supplied by the family.
- The lease must include the HUD required tenancy addendum. (The housing authority will provide.) The terms of the tenancy addendum prevail over any other provisions of the lease.
- The rent requested must be reasonable as compared to similar unassisted units and approved by the housing authority,
The following is the process to complete your lease:
- The lease effective date and approved rent amount must match the Housing Assistance Payment Contract.
- Bring a copy of the signed lease when you come in to sign the Housing Assistance Payments Contract and Tenancy Addendum.
Receiving the Housing Assistance Payment
The effective date of the first Housing Assistance Payment can start the day the unit passes inspection and the tenant moves into the unit. The tenant is responsible for any payments due prior to the contract effective date. The owner can expect to receive the first Housing Assistance Payment 30 to 45 days after the unit passes inspection. Payments thereafter will be mailed the first week of the month.
Other Information Required From Owner/Manager
In order to ensure we are paying the legal owner of any property, we must verify proof of ownership by means of a Recorded Deed. If a professional management firm represents the owner, we require a fully executed management agreement verifying this arrangement. We also need a Tax ID number or Social Security number for tax purposes. No Housing Assistance Payment will be made prior to our receiving these important documents.
Adjustments to Family's Rent Portion
During the term of the lease, if the family has a change in income or family composition they are required to report it within ten days of occurrence. Rent portions will be adjusted according to the family's adjusted income. A Rent Change Notice will be mailed to the family and owner to reflect any changes in rent portions.
Annual Review of Family Income and Composition
Federal regulations require housing authorities to review a family's income and composition annually. The rent portions will be re-calculated and a Rent Change Notice will be mailed to the owner and the family.
Annual Housing Quality Standards Inspections and Complaint Inspections
The housing authority is required to inspect the unit annually. The housing authority may also perform a complaint inspection if it is determined an owner or tenant is not maintaining the unit. Any deficiencies will be noted and a notice mailed indicating a repair deadline. The owner or property manager is required to repair any failed items within 30 days or 24 hours for life-threatening deficiencies. The family is responsible for any tenant-caused damages beyond normal wear and tear.
If the Family Vacates the Unit Before the End of the Lease Term
The property owner or manager must notify the housing authority if the family moves out of the unit before the end of the lease term. Housing Assistance Payments can only be made while the family lives in the unit. Families who leave the unit without notifying the housing authority or owner may be terminated from the Housing Choice Voucher Program.
Procedures to Complete an Owner/Management Change
The current owner/manager needs to provide a letter requesting the housing authority's consent to re-assign the HAP Contract to the new owner/management company. The new owner must provide a letter agreeing to comply with the HAP Contract and complete a W-9 and Tax ID form in order for us to transfer payments.
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