What is the Housing Voucher Program?
HUD Housing Choice Voucher (Section 8) Rental Assistance Program is the federal government’s major program for assisting very low-income individuals, families, the elderly, and the disabled to rent decent, safe, and sanitary housing in the private market.
Who funds the Housing Voucher Program?
This program is financed through federal funds received from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and is available to anyone living in or wishing to live in Dodge County, Wisconsin that meets the program requirements.
How does a Landlord benefit from the Housing Voucher Program?
A contracted monthly assistance payment is on time and guaranteed. There is minimal paperwork to be done and Landlords and they can use their own screening process and lease.
If the tenant’s income changes and is less, their portion of the rent can be lowered and the Housing Authority’s payment to the landlord may increase. This would mean the entire amount of rent may be subsidized.
There is little paperwork involved and the landlords can use their own leases and screening process.
Since inspections are required, it helps you maintain your property. Keeping the property well maintained helps ensure its resale value and makes it easier to rent it again if the tenant would decide to vacate.
The voucher program is a popular program. By accepting tenants with the voucher, your rental property becomes viable to a wider pool of tenants, which improves marketability.
How does the process work?
The Dodge County Housing Authority certifies that the household is income eligible for the program. A voucher participant is contacted via mail. A voucher participant is interviewed to determine eligibility. Dodge County Housing Authority also verifies qualification on the basis of citizenship or the eligible immigrant status of family members, validation of social security cards/number information for all family members as required by HUD. Once the voucher holder is considered eligible and as funding allows, the voucher holder will attend a group presentation where they will have the program rules and processes explained to them. The tenant will be supplied with many documents. They receive a copy of the voucher provided by the housing Authority and a form called Request for Tenancy. You should use the same screening methods that you use for all your prospective tenants. It is important to remember the voucher participant has only been screened on eligibility criteria and has not been screened for suitability.
To determine if the prospective tenant has a voucher issued by the Dodge County Housing Authority; the tenant should supply a copy of the valid voucher.
If the voucher holder/tenant passes the screening to determine suitability, a landlord must complete forms to get the process started: A form called, Request for Tenancy Approval should be supplied by the prospective tenant and the Landlord must complete this form. The Request for Tenancy Approval form must be completed and returned to either the tenant or our office as soon as possible. This form helps the Housing Authority determine if the apartment is affordable to the tenant. If you have questions on how to properly complete the proper paper work, please contact the office.
The landlord and the voucher holder must complete and return the forms to the Dodge County Housing Authority for review. The Housing Authority will examine the rent amount suggested by the landlord to determine that the rent is comparable to rents for other similar units in the area. The tenant cannot pay more than 40% of the adjusted monthly household income or the unit will not qualify for the program. If the Housing Authority determines that all the criteria are met, the information will be forwarded to and inspector. An inspector will schedule and inspection.
All inspections are based the Housing Quality Standards (HQS). An HQS inspection is not a code compliant inspection. As the owner you should maintain the unit in accordance with HQS. The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) establishes criteria for acceptable housing quality. The HQS inspection is required before assistance can be administered.
If the unit passes inspection the Dodge County Housing Authority will be able to administer assistance after the proper paperwork is completed by the tenant and landlord.
If the unit does not pass HQS inspection, you will receive an inspection repair letter. If you agree to make the repairs, a follow up inspection will be scheduled within 30 days to ensure the repairs have been made.
If you are unwilling or unable to make the repairs, the property will fail the HQS inspection and be ineligible for the program.
The Housing Authority is required to inspect the unit at least once a year. The unit must pass the inspection prior to the annual renewal date of the contract to continue to be eligible for program assistance. You may increase the rent annually, but the Housing Authority still needs to review the increase to make sure it is comparable to fair market rentals.
You have the same rights and responsibilities with a Housing Choice Voucher participant/tenant as you do when renting to a non assisted tenant.
What are the HQS standards? What are we looking for?
The unit needs to have appropriate and working sanitary facilities, cooking and food preparation areas, heating system, lights and electrical systems, and water supply.
The inspector needs to have access to all areas of the unit including the mechanicals. If the water heater, furnace or electrical panels are located outside of the apartment, we need to have access to those areas during the inspection.
Common problems that are found at HQS inspections are, missing or non functioning smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors, inoperable bathroom fans or no ventilation, lack of or non- securely supported handrails installed for stairways with 4 or more risers. Handrails must be the length or the stairways. Railings are required for porches, decks and steps that are over 30 inches from the ground.
Doors and windows must be weather-tight so there are no gaps that let air in. Windows must be free of cracks or breaks. Windows that are designed to open must have the ability to do so. Doors and windows must lock securely.
Another very important issue is chipping and peeling paint in a property built before 1979 where a child under 6 resides. ANY chipping or peeling paint will cause the property to fail.
The painted area needs to be stabilized. If the damaged areas is a small component and it exceeds 10% of the surface/ or an exterior area of more than 20 square feet, lead safe work practices must be used and clearance testing must be done. If you need more information about these issues you may obtain them by contacting us or by using the EPA website at www.epa.gov.
More specific information regarding HUD based requirements for an HQS inspection please review the inspection form that is used at the inspections:
For more information regarding frequently asked questions about the Housing Quality Standard, please see the following link.
What types of dwellings are accepted on the Voucher Program (Section 8)?
Acceptable dwellings are considered single-family homes, condominiums, duplexes, apartments, mobile, manufactured and town homes. A room in someone’s house or a boarding home are not acceptable.
Who do I collect a security deposit from?
The tenant is responsible for the full amount of the security deposit. At no time is the Dodge County Housing Authority responsible for the security deposit. The tenant may receive assistance from other sources such as charitable and non profit organizations.
How much of a security deposit can I charge?
You may charge the same amount that you would normally charge for a non subsidized tenant.
Where can voucher participants rent?
For a landlord to receive the rental assistance payment from the Dodge County Housing Authority, the dwelling must be within Dodge County, WI. Eligible voucher participants that desire to lease outside of Dodge County, WI would have to contact the Dodge County Housing Authority to see if they can be “ported” or transferred to the Housing Authority in the County they are interested in renting from.
When does a landlord receive the assistance payment?
The Dodge County Housing Authority processes payments to landlords on the 1st business day of the month. Landlords can not charge the Housing Authority or the tenant late fees if the payment is not received in a timely manner. The Dodge County Housing Authority prefers to have the Housing Assistance Payments (HAP) directly deposited into your bank account. This is a safe convenient way to receive payments.
If I give the voucher participant a written notice do I have to give the Housing Authority one too?
If you give the tenant a written notice, if should also be forwarded to our office. When the Dodge County Housing Authority receives a written notice, we will promptly follow up with your tenant. Any evictable offense is also a violation of the Section 8 program. We want your renter to be successful in your property. Please keep the Dodge County Housing Authority aware of any issues.
Can I request a rent increase?
If you are requesting an increase, the Dodge County Housing Authority must receive written notice reflecting that increase in our office at least 60 days before the effective date. You can provide us with the same notice that you provided the tenants. You may email, fax, mail or hand deliver the notice to our office. Late requests will not be processed. You cannot charge the tenant the new rent amount until our office approves it.
What is Tenant and Project Based Assistance?
Tenant Based Assistance – This type of assistance is based on funding that helps subside rent paid to a landlord. The HUD Housing Choice Voucher program is an example of tenant based assistance. This assistance can move with you from one property to another and can be used in a variety of rental properties including apartment complexes, duplexes, townhouses, single family homes, etc.
Project Based Assistance – This type of assistance is based on a particular address. The apartment complex has a contract with a government agency to provide rental assistance in some or all of their apartments. In order to use this assistance you have to reside in that particular apartment complex. These apartment complexes are independently owned and operated and the type of assistance provided may vary. If you have questions about vacancies or rental assistance, you need to contact the owner or manager for the complex.
What do I do if there is an issue with a tenant?
The Dodge County Housing Authority often receives phone calls regarding problems between landlords and tenants. To avoid problems, it is important that you know what these rights and responsibilities are.
The Dodge County Housing Authority can not give advice regarding these issues. A lease is a legal and binding document between the landlord and tenant. The landlord should resolve the issue as if they were renting to a non voucher holder. If you have a legal question, you need to contact and attorney.
If you are looking for basic information, we recommend you contact the Department of Consumer Protection. You may also reference the following link that may be helpful and outlines topic subjects such as: Things you should know before renting, responsibilities of the landlord and the tenant, terminating a tenancy, eviction, tenant rights. https://datcp.wi.gov/Pages/Publications/LandlordTenantGuide.aspx
There are many misconceptions when it comes to the rights and responsibilities of landlords and tenants. It is important for you to have accurate information when making decisions and it is worth the time and effort to be an informed landlord or tenant. To see a list of tenant rights please see the following document: