Families participating in the Housing Choice Voucher Program are free to choose any rental housing that meets the US Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) Housing Quality Standards (HQS) and rents for an amount the Housing Authority of Franklin County determines is reasonable for the condition and location of the property. Rent for housing units leased under the Voucher program must be comparable to rents for unassisted units of similar condition, size and location. The Housing Authority conducts periodic surveys of unassisted units and maintains this listing in a folder to demonstrate comparable rents.
The family’s share of the rent is calculated by the Housing Authority of Franklin County using HUD prescribed formulas. On the Voucher program the Housing Authority’s portion of rent is pre-set. This amount is based upon the family’s income and the Payment Standard for the family size. The Payment Standard is established by the Housing Authority and is based on the cost of housing and utilities for this area. The difference between the monthly rent and the Housing Authority’s share is paid by the family directly to the landlord on a monthly basis. The family share of rent plus utilities paid by the tenant cannot exceed 40% of the family’s monthly adjusted income.
Steps For Owners Interested In The Section 8 Program
Step 1 - Finding a Tenant
A prospective tenant holding a Voucher may approach you, or your available unit may be listed with the Housing Authority. A family applies to the agency to enroll in the program ("Family" also includes elderly and disabled individuals.)
Step 2 - Screening & Approving Tenant
The Housing Authority determines the family’s eligibility (certifies the family) to participate in the Section 8 program. The Housing Authority does not, however, screen Voucher holders for their suitability as tenants. Owners should do their own screening and follow the same non-discriminatory procedures they would for a non-assisted applicant applying to rent their property. The family has 60 to 120 days from the time that their voucher is issued to choose a place that meets program housing standards and rent reasonable limits. Their present dwelling may qualify too.
If the applicant meets the owner’s screening criteria, the owner and prospective tenant complete and sign the Request for Tenancy Approval (click here) which is given to the tenant by the Housing Authority. This is submitted to the Housing Authority for approval.
Step 3 - Housing Authority Approval of Lease and Unit
The Housing Authority must determine if the unit passes the Housing Quality Standards (HQS) to qualify for the Section 8 program. An inspection of the unit by the Housing Authority Inspector is done. If the unit does not pass the inspection, a reasonable time will be given to make the required repairs.
Because of the limited amount of time, the Housing Authority cannot do pre-inspections. The following is a checklist of items that most frequently cause a unit to fail. This is not the entire inspection, but only a limited checklist for landlords.
- Any flaking and peeling paint must be scraped and repainted.
- Rooms must not leak.
- Mobile homes must be anchored.
- Hazards must be repaired:
- Handrails on steps
- No broken steps
- Any flaking and peeling paint must be scraped and repainted.
- Bathrooms must have an operable exhaust fan or window.
- Operable smoke detector
- Must have good plumbing and electrical wiring
- Broken glass in windows must be repaired.
Step 4 - Signing of Contract & Lease
If the lease and unit meet the program requirements and after the assistance payment is calculated, the Housing Authority will enter into a Housing Assistance Payments (HAP) Contract with the owner and the family will enter into a lease with the owner.
Step 5 - Payment to Owner
After the HAP contract and lease are signed, payment from the Housing Authority to the owner begins and continues as long as the family continues to meet eligibility criteria and the housing unit qualifies under the program. The agency pays you part of the rent each month and the family pays you the balance.
Can an Occupant Stay in His Present Unit and Still Get Assistance?
Yes! If the occupant is eligible, the unit meets minimum standards, and the rent plus utilities to be paid directly by the tenant is at or below Rent Reasonableness limits.
What is Rent Reasonableness?
Rent reasonableness is a test to assure that a fair rent is paid for its units selected for participation in the Section 8 Program and that the program does not have the effect of inflating rents in the community. The Housing Authority must document on a case-by-case basis that the approved rent is reasonable based on current rents for comparable unassisted units. Rent reasonableness determinations must be made before the Housing Authority approves the initial rent to the owner. Total gross rent (contract rent plus utilities paid by tenant) may never exceed reasonable rent.
What Kind of Housing is Eligible?
Any type of rental housing…including single family dwellings.
How Does the Owner Receive His FUll Rent Payment?
Through Housing Assistance Payments (HAP Payments). The agency pays the difference between the contract rent and what the tenant pays.
How Much Rent Does the Tenant Pay?
Tenant rent share is based on 30% of adjusted income, which takes into account the number of dependents and extraordinary medical expenses and the Payment Standard for the appropriate bedroom size.
How Often Are the HAP Payments Made to the Owner?
Monthly, for the duration of the Housing Assistance Payments Contract, as long as all obligations under the contract are met. A sample of the HAP contract is available upon request.
Can the Contract Rent Be Increased During the Term of the HAP Contract if the Owner’s Expenses Increase?
Yes, on the anniversary date of the lease, the owner may request an annual adjustment. Special adjustments may also be made to reflect increases in expenses from general increases in real property taxes, utilities, or similar costs. Special adjustments are permitted to the extent the owner can demonstrate that the increases have increased operating costs and are not compensated for by the annual adjustments. Because the tenant share is based on a fixed Payment Standard determined by the Housing Authority according to unit bedroom size, the tenant will generally pay the increased amount of rent.
Myths & Facts
The Franklin County Housing Authority strives to work with landlords to make our Section 8 program successful. There are many myths that circulate persistently about the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher Program. Here are the most common and the truths behind the myths:
- Section 8 will only help minority families.
In Franklin County only 23% of our clients are minorities. The remaining 77% are non-minority families.
- If a landlord rents to one voucher holder they are obligated to rent to all voucher holders.
Landlords are not obligated to rent to more than one voucher holder. We encourage landlords to screen our tenants in the same way that they screen other tenants. If they fail your screening, you can refuse to rent to them.
- Section 8 clients destroy property and do not pay their rent.
This can be the case with a small percentage of families, just as it can be the case with non-Section 8 families. The majority of our clients are good tenants. If they fail to pay rent or damage property, they risk losing their rental assistance.
- The Housing Authority tells the landlord what he can and cannot do with his/her property.
As long as the unit passes the Housing Quality Standards inspection, the landlord can do whatever he/she wants with the property.
- All Section 8 clients do not work and are welfare recipients.
This is not true. Here in Franklin County, with the Welfare Reform Act, most of our Section 8 voucher recipients are welfare free.
- Most Section 8 clients are single mothers with children.
Although 49% of all clients are families with children, they are not all single parent families. 51% of our program are elderly and disabled families.
- Section 8 clients are drug users and criminals.
The Housing Authority will not allow persons on the rental assistance program if they are convicted of seriously violent or drug-related criminal activity.
- Section 8 rents are too low in comparison with open market rents, and there is a lot of paperwork and hassle for landlords who accept the program.
Our rent reasonableness surveys help us to make sure our rents are comparable with open market rents. The main obligation of the landlord to the Housing Authority is to be in compliance with the HQS inspection and to sign paperwork for initial lease-up, renewal or interim lease changes.
Property Owners Rental Assistance News & Notes
Recently we have found that our inspectors have had to make 3 or 4 trips before units pass inspection. If your unit fails inspection, please make sure that all requested repairs are completed before contacting the inspector to re-inspect to keep our costs down.
Housing Authority regulations state that all repairs must be completed within 30 days. Failure to do so could jeopardize your Housing Assistance Payment.
436 West Washington Street
Chambersburg, PA 17201
Phone: (717) 263-2021
Facsimile: (717) 263-1329
202 Elder Avenue
Waynesboro, PA 17268
Phone: (717) 762-7117
Facsimile: (717) 762-9655
Section 8 Staff:
Lauren Duvall, Section 8 Coordinator
Barbara Hepburn, Management Aide
Kimberly Scott, Clerk Typist