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Rent Subsidies

Section 8 changed : Housing Choice Voucher Program

Premise: HUD has determined that tenants should pay no more than 30% of their household income for total housing expense. They believe that any housing costs over that amount should be subsidized by the federal government.

The Republican Congress has required substantial changes to the Section 8 Certificate and Voucher rent subsidy programs. Some of them are apparently designed to demand more accountability from recipients and others to reduce the costs of the programs. Changes in the Federal certificate and voucher programs, along with the new HUD regulations were published in the July 3, 1995 Federal Register.

The new regulations are being implemented in three phases. The first two phases have, or are now being implemented and the third phase on the new conforming rule for the Section 8 programs should be implemented within the next few months. The following are a few of the program changes:

Housing assistance payments contracts were automatically terminated one year after the date of the last housing assistance payment to the owner. Under the new regulations, contracts will be terminated 180 days after the last housing assistance payment to the owner.

Previously, under the certificate program, maximum security deposit payments was the greater of $50 or the family's total tenant payment. In the voucher program the Housing Authority had discretion to determine the maximum security deposit, as long as it did not exceed one month or was so high it prevented program participation. Under the new regulation there will be no security deposit limit, and the lease determines the security deposit amount. The Housing Authority will be able to prohibit security deposits that exceed private market practice or are in excess of amounts charged by the owner to unassisted tenants.

If the security deposit was insufficient to cover unpaid rent, damages or other amounts the family owed under the lease, the owner could claim reimbursement from the Housing Authority, depending on the subsidy type the family was receiving.. Now if the security deposit is insufficient to cover unpaid rent, damages or other amounts the family may owe under the lease, the owner may collect the balance from the family. The owner will not be able to claim reimbursement from the Housing Authority, and the Housing Authority no longer has to determine whether the damages are tenant caused.

The owner was previously responsible for all Housing Quality Standards violations, and the Housing Authority had to either abate housing assistance payments or terminate contracts for uncorrected violations. Under new regulations, the family is responsible for violations caused by family failure to pay for tenant supplied utilities, failure to provide and maintain tenant supplied appliances, damage caused by the family or their guests, and the Housing Authority may terminate assistance for these violations. There is an opportunity for appeal on the family's part, and the Housing Authority may not stop Housing Assistance payments to the owner or terminate contracts because of the family caused violations. Additional new family obligations:

  • Provide evidence of citizenship or eligible immigration status.
  • Violations relating to tenant/guest damages or tenant supplied utilities and appliances
  • Not commit any serious or repeated lease violation
  • Notify the owner before vacating a unit and give the Housing Authority a copy of the lease termination notice when notice is given to the owner, and promptly give the Housing Authority a copy of any eviction notice.
  • Families also must use the assisted unit as the family's only residence.
  • Family members may engage in legal profit-making activities in the unit if the activities are incidental to primary use of the residence and if the lease does not require owner approval for any business use.
  • Families must notify the HA of any changes in their household size, including: a member moving out, birth, death or adoption, and request HA approval to add any other family member. Comply with requirements for a foster child or live-in aid, comply with HA requests for verification of the family's living status, not commit bribery or any corrupt or criminal act in connection with the Certificate and Voucher Programs.

The changes were to be implemented after October 2, 1995. Finally, owners were previously require to send termination notice to the tenant, HA and HUD 90 days before terminating a contract because of an opt-out termination for "other good cause" HUD reviewed the notice for legality of the termination and correctness of rent, then the owner could be offered a new contract for execution. The new policy is the same as the old policy, except a 90 day owner termination notice is triggered when the Housing Assistance Payment automatically expires, because no subsidy is paid for past 180 days (not one year), and the owner is offered the opportunity to execute a new contract limited to opt-outs. The Housing Commission also must tell all owners that tenant screening is an owner responsibility and that the Housing Commission has not screened the family for tenant suitability. If asked, most Housing Commissions will now give prospective landlords the family's current address and if known, the name and address of the owner at the family's current and prior addresses.

Government Programs | Section 8 Program | Public Housing | Projects

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