HCV Landlord Q&A

A Refresher for Landlords in the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) Program

About the HCV Program:

  • The rent the landlord can collect is not based on Fair Market Rents or Payment Standards, but on the Housing Authority’s rental market surveys.
  • You may not rent to a relative except under very limited situations for persons with disabilities,with advance approval from the Housing Authority.
  • See our New Landlord Q&A, with more information for landlords just joining the program.

What is the relationship between the tenant, the landlord, and the Housing Authority?

The HCV program provides rental assistance to families who can then choose a unit to rent on the private market.

The Housing Authority has a direct relationship with the tenant in that we provide them housing assistance. The voucher we issue the tenant spells out the terms of our relationship with the tenant.

The Housing Authority also has a direct relationship with landlords in that we pay rental assistance to landlords on behalf of the HCV tenant they have selected. The Housing Assistance Payment Contract (HAP) spells out the terms of our relationship with the landlord.

The landlord and tenant have a relationship that the Housing Authority is not a party to. That is the tenant-landlord relationship. The lease or rental agreement spells out the terms of that relationship. The HCV program requires that you use the HUD Lease Addendum with your lease.

What kinds of actions or changes does a landlord need to notify the Housing Authority of?

The landlord must notify the Housing Authority of all changes to the lease or tenancy, including:

  • Raising the rent. All rent increases must be agreed to in advance by the Housing Authority.
  • Making a change to the lease regarding who pays for utilities.
  • The landlord taking any lease enforcement action, including warnings, late rent notices, or eviction.
  • The family moving out.
  • The unit being sold or changing ownership.
  • The landlord’s change of address or change of property manager. (See our website for change of address forms)
  • A change regarding what property the tenant is leasing (garages, common areas, etc.)

What if I Have a Problem with a HCV Tenant?

Remember that this is your tenant, like any other tenant. You can take any action, up to and including eviction, in accordance with the law and your lease. The length of notice depends on state law and may range from three to 90 days.

Please consult an attorney or apartment association before taking action, and copy us on any notices of lease violation or other action.

We can terminate a family’s assistance for repeated lease violations, some criminal acts, or program fraud. See our Program Fraud Q&A for more information.

Will the Housing Authority pay for tenant-caused damages to the unit?

No. You are responsible for collecting a security deposit, screening tenants, and conducting move-in and move-out inspections as you would with any other tenant.

The Housing Authority does not conduct a move-out inspection. You are welcome to attend the Housing Authority’s annual inspection of the unit to assess the condition of the property.

How Are Rent Changes Handled?

You must notify us and the tenant in writing at least 60 days before a rent increase is to take effect.

We will review the new proposed rent and make sure it is “reasonable,” using our market studies.

Also, you must not charge a HCV tenant a higher rent than you would any other tenant.

In some cases, the tenant’s portion of the rent will change. If approved, we will send rent change notices to both you and the tenant with the new rent amount. It is your responsibility to collect the correct rent from the tenant. You may not charge the tenant any additional amount beyond what we approve.

Housing Authority rents are paid on the first of the month. We offer fast, convenient direct deposit of our rent checks. We will mail you a statement if you choose direct deposit.

If the tenant’s income changes, we may adjust their portion of the rent. In some cases, we may issue a retroactive check to you and you may need to reimburse the tenant. See our “Reporting Changes Q&A.”

What happens if family members move in or out?

You may determine whether you will allow someone else to move in. HVC families must notify us when someone moves in or moves out. We determine the rent the family pays to the landlord based on the total income of everyone living in the unit, not just the number of people living there. See our Reporting Changes Q&A.

What happens when the whole family vacates?

You must notify us immediately of a HCV family’s move-out date. The Landlord will receive a prorated amount of the last month’s rent, based on move-out date. If you receive any rent after that month from us, you may owe us back rent.

New Landlord Q&A

We offer many landlord-friendly services:

  • Direct deposit of Housing Authority rent checks.
  • Prompt and consistent Housing Authority payments.
  • Market-comparable rent levels.
  • Flexible lease terms.

How does the program work?

The Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) program provides rental assistance to low income individuals and families, who select their own rentals from units on the private market. We do not assist the unit, we assist the family who rents the unit.

The family pays about a third of their income in rent to the landlord, and we pay the rest, up to a certain limit, directly to the landlord.

Each rental unit must pass an initial and annual inspection.

The landlord uses his/her own lease with our addendum. Month-to-month leases are acceptable.

Rent increases are permitted as long as the total rent is no more than our reasonable rent standard.

The landlord can leave the program at the end of any lease term. The HCV program does not require notice to the tenant, however, state law may require it.

The landlord can charge a market-rate security deposit in accordance with his/her practices and state law.

Can I get my current tenant on the program?

We assist people who are already on our waiting list. You can encourage tenants to apply by submitting a pre-application, but there will be a lengthy wait, typically years. If one of your tenants is issued a voucher, he/she has the option of remaining in your unit if you would like to participate in the program.

Does the Housing Authority screen the tenants?

The Housing Authority screens for program eligibility. We do not screen to see if they will be a good tenant. We check income eligibility and legal immigration status. We conduct registered sex offender checks and may deny certain violent or drug-related criminals if the information is disclosed to us. However, these are minimal standards. We encourage landlords to screen tenants as they would do with their non-subsidized tenants. Remember, this is your tenant. Screen them as you would any other tenant.

A Housing Choice Voucher tenant has applied to rent my unit. What next?

The tenant will give you a Request for Tenancy Approval (RTA) to complete. We will review the RTA, negotiate the rent with you, and schedule an inspection. See our Inspection Q&A.

After the unit passes inspection, the RTA is approved, and the contract is signed, the tenant is authorized to move in. Your first rent check will arrive after all paperwork is processed. If the tenant moves in early, we will not start paying our portion of the rent until these steps are complete. The tenant would be responsible for the entire rent amount.

What if I Have a Problem with a HCV Tenant?

This is your tenant, like any other tenant. You can take any action, up to and including eviction, in accordance with the law and the terms of your lease. Please consult an attorney or apartment association before taking action, and copy us on any notices of lease violation.

How Much Rent Can I Collect?

The rent that you can collect under the HCV program is based upon:

  • The “reasonable rent” for your area and your unit type. We base this rent on our own market studies. Landlords can submit their own comparable rents for us to consider in determining the reasonable rent.
  • The rent the landlord charges for comparable unassisted units. In other words, you cannot collect more from the HCV program than you would from any other renter.
  • Our staff will work with you to determine the allowable rent for your unit.
  • You are responsible for collecting the tenant’s portion of the rent, which is based on the family’s income. The tenant pays between 30-40% of his/her income in rent. After the initial lease term, the tenant may pay more than 40% with Housing Authority approval. We must approve the total rent you collect, including rent increases.

Can I list my vacant units with the Housing Authority?

Yes! We provide free rental listings on our website and in printed listings that we give to voucher holders who are searching for a place to rent. To list a unit, go here or call our Info Line. Also, you can state in your own rental ads that you will accept Housing Choice Vouchers.

Si desea una traducción en español, por favor llame al (831) 454-9455.

Inspection Q&A

Tips for getting ready for your inspection:

  • For move-in inspections, make sure the power is on and the unit is vacant.
  • For annual inspections, make sure that an adult is present.
  • We recommend that both the landlord and the tenant attend the inspection.
  • Review our HQS Inspection Checklist and try to make repairs before the inspection to avoid delays.

What is the purpose of the inspection?

The purpose of the inspection is to ensure that units we assist are “decent, safe, and sanitary.” These standards are called Housing Quality Standards, or HQS, and are not the same as building codes.

We encourage review of our HQS Inspection Checklist in detail before the inspector arrives. If minor repairs can be taken care of before the inspection, there is a better chance that the unit will pass right away. Only one re-inspection is allowed, and only if the voucher has not expired or is not about to expire.

It is the landlord’s responsibility to correct inspection violations. The landlord may follow state law in charging the tenant for tenant-caused damages. We encourage tenants to keep their homes in good condition and report maintenance problems to the landlord promptly. Tenant-caused damage, beyond normal wear-and-tear, can result in termination from the program.

When must a unit be inspected?

The federal government requires the Housing Authority to inspect all units assisted through the Housing Choice Voucher program, as well as most other programs it administers. A unit must be inspected before move-in and annually thereafter.

What if the unit fails inspection?

For initial move-in inspections, the results are usually available by phone on the afternoon of the day following the inspection. If the unit fails, we will send the landlord a letter listing the corrections that need to be made. Once the landlord has made the repairs, he or she must call us to schedule a second inspection. If the unit fails again, we advise the tenant to look for another unit.

For annual inspections, landlords are given a deadline to complete repairs and reschedule an inspection. If repairs are not completed by the deadline, the Housing Authority will stop payments to the Landlord.

Can the tenant move in before a unit passes inspection?

The tenant will have to pay the full rent if he/she moves in before the unit passes inspection, a lease is signed, and the Housing Authority contract is signed. The rent is not retroactive. Housing Authority rent begins the day the unit passes inspection, or the effective day of the lease, whichever is later, provided paperwork is complete.

If the landlord does not make the necessary repairs, or changes his/her mind about signing the contract, the tenant would have to find another place to live. For this reason, tenants should ensure that they have enough time on their vouchers to look for other units.

Can you inspect a unit before the landlord has found a tenant to see if it will pass?

We cannot inspect a unit until a tenant turns in an RTA. You can use our HQS Inspection Checklist to identify failed items.

What does the inspection cover?

Please see our HQS Inspection Checklist for a more detailed description of what the inspection covers. In general, the inspector will be looking for:

    • A working smoke detector on each floor.
    • A clean and working stove and refrigerator. (Tenants can provide their own appliances.)
    • A safe and adequate heating system.
    • A working water heater with a proper discharge line on relief valves.
    • Exterior doors that lock and provide a weather-tight fit.
    • Hot and cold running water with no leaks.
    • No evidence of roach or vermin infestation.
    • No peeling paint or mold.
    • Proper ventilation in bathrooms
    • No electrical hazards, including missing or broken cover plates.

This is only a partial list, and standards may change over time.

Remember that utilities must be on, and the unit must be move-in ready, at inspection time.

Si desea una traducción en español, por favor llame al (831) 454-9455.

Housing Programs Q&A

Quick Facts about the Housing Authority:

  • We are an independent local public agency.
  • We serve over 4,000 families per year through rental and homeowner-ship programs.
  • We are not part of HUD (Department of Housing and Urban Development). However, many of our programs are funded through HUD.

What Kind of Assistance Does the Housing Authority Offer?

The Housing Authority assists thousands of families through the Housing Choice Voucher (Section 8) rental assistance program. We also own several apartment complexes for low-income families through our affiliated nonprofit organization New Horizons Affordable Housing and Development. In addition, we administer a number of special programs for renters and homeowners.

I’m a landlord. How do I get involved in Housing Authority programs?

The Housing Authority has specially-trained staff who can assist landlords who wish to participate in our rental programs. We offer direct deposit and a number of other landlord-friendly services. To get acquainted visit our landlord section.

What if I need help now?

The Housing Authority does not have any programs that can help people with emergency housing needs. All of our programs require some kind of application process, and many have long waiting lists. If you have immediate housing needs, please visit our Links page for more housing resources.

I am not a Housing Authority client, but I am a renter or a homeowner having a problem related to housing. Can you help me?

We are unable to help with most tenant-landlord disputes.

How do you help renters?

The Housing Authority has a number of programs for low-income renters, including:

  • The Housing Choice Voucher (Section 8) program allows you to select a unit to rent. With this program, renters pay about 30% of their income in rent and the Housing Authority pays the rest, within certain limits.
  • The Housing Authority owns several apartment complexes, including public housing and farmworker housing that we rent to low-income families at affordable rent levels.

The Security Deposit program makes a limited amount of assistance available in certain locations to qualified renters who just need help with move-in costs.

Our rental programs do have waiting lists. To find out more, go here.

I’d like to buy a home. What special programs do you have?

The Housing Authority’s first time homebuyer programs include:

First time homebuyer downpayment loans for low to moderate income families. The amount and type of assistance varies by city.

Mortgage Credit Certification (MCC) program, which offers a tax credit to first time homebuyers to help make the costs of homeownership more affordable.

The Housing Choice Voucher program has a homeownership option that allows participants to use their voucher to purchase a home.

What programs are available to higher income families?

If you are not low-income, you may still be eligible for assistance through our Security Deposit program as well as some of our homeownership programs. See our income limits here.

Si desea una traducción en español, por favor llame al (831) 454-9455.