1. What is the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher Program?
The Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher Program is a subsidy program funded through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and administered by the Guam Housing and Urban Renewal Authority. The program provides housing assistance to very-low income families to help them afford a safe and decent rental unit in the private rental market. The program allows families to rent anywhere they choose as long as the unit meets Housing Quality Standards (HQS).
2. How is the Section 8 HCV Program funded?
The Section 8 HCV Program is 100 percent federally funded through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). GHURA is authorized funding for 2,581 vouchers under its current Annual Contributions Contract with HUD.
3. How does the Section 8 Program work?
The Housing Authority helps eligible very-low income families to afford rent in the private rental market by providing subsidy. In most cases, the housing authority pays up to 70 percent of the cost of rent and the family pays 30 percent. The family is issued a voucher, which authorizes the search for a suitable unit. When the family finds the unit they want to rent, the unit is inspected using housing quality standards. After the unit passes inspection, the landlord and the housing authority enters into a Housing Assistance Payment Contract. The housing authority is responsible for making the monthly rent payments to the owner on behalf of the family.
4. What is a Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher?
A voucher is a document issued to afamily, which authorizes the family to search for housing unit. The voucher (form HUD-52646) is issued to the family only after they have been selected off the waiting list and they are deemedpre-eligible for assistance. Receiving a voucher does not guarantee the family housing assistance.It is only after all requirements are met and a contract is executed that the family will begin receiving housing assistance.The voucher document will stipulatethe unit size the family qualifies for, the date of issuance, the expiration date, and the family’s obligation while participating under the Section 8 Program.
5. How can I become a Section 8 landlord?
A property owner may become a landlord for a Section 8 family simply by agreeing to accept the family’s voucher and contacting GHURA to register the unit. The unit must pass the Housing Quality Standards inspection and then the Property Owner and GHURA must enter into a Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) Contract.
6. What are the benefits of becoming a Section 8 landlord?
A Section 8 landlord may enjoy such benefits such as having a monthly rent paid directly to the landlord’s bank account in a timely manner; If the tenant’s income decreases, their portion of the rent may be lowered, while GHURA’s share is increased so the rent does not change; Paperwork is only established during registration of the unit and contract signing; and the inspection performed by GHURA Inspectors will help the landlord in maintaining the property. Keeping the property well maintained will help preserve its resale value and make it easier to lease up again whenever a participant vacates the unit.
7. Is it discriminating if I choose not to rent to a Section 8 family?
No, it is not a discriminating act to refuse to accept Section 8; but it is a discrimination if refusal was based on the family’s race, color, sex, religion, creed, national or ethnic origin, age, familial or marital status, or disability.
8. Who is responsible for screening potential tenants for suitability?
The landlord is responsible for screening the potential tenant for suitability. Screening the tenant should be the first step performed by the landlord. GHURA recommends for all landlords to screen prospective Section 8 renters like they would any other potential renters. Landlords may require references or upon the written consent of the prospective Section 8 renter, GHURA may release rental history information about the tenant.GHURA is only responsible for determining the family’s eligibility to participate under the Section 8 Program and processing the family’s assistance.
9. What is a conflict of interest?
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) prohibits property owners who may or may not have direct or indirect interest to the Section 8 Program to become landlords. HUD defines a covered person considered a “conflict of interest” a person or entity who is a member of any of the following classes:
- Any present or former member or officer of the PHA (except a PHA commissioner who is a participant in the program);
- Any employee of the PHA, or any contractor, sub-contractor or agent of the PHA, who formulates policy or who influences decisions with respect to the program;
- Any public official or member of a governing body, or State or local legislator, who exercises functions or responsibilities with respect to the program; or
- Any member of the Congress of the United States.
A covered individual may not have any direct or indirect interest in the HAP contract or in any benefits or payments under the contract (including the interest of an immediate family member of such covered individual or while such person is a covered individual or during one year thereafter.
10. What is a HAP Contract?
The Housing Assistance Payments Contract (HAP contract) is HUDdocument (form HUD-52641), which is used to provide Section 8 tenant-based assistance under the Housing Choice Voucher Program (voucher program). The PHA and the property owner enters into an agreement using the HAP Contract.
11. What is Housing Quality Standards?
TheHousing Choice Voucher Program’s mission is to provide “decent, safe, and sanitary” housing at an affordable cost to very low-income families. To achieve this goal, PHAs use Housing Quality Standards to ensure all assisted units under the HAP contract meet the minimum criterianecessary to ensure the health and safety of program participants.
12. How can I determine if my unit is eligible for rental under the Section 8 Program?
The rental unit must be in good repair, cleaned, sanitary and free of any deficiencies.
13. How may I prepare for an HQS inspection?
GHURA recommends for property owners to inspect the rental unit prior to the scheduled HQS inspection to ensure the unit is in good repair, clean, sanitary and free of any hazardous threats. Property owners must also supply the unit with a working water heater, full range-stove, and refrigerator.
14. What happens if my rental unit does not pass the HQS inspection?
The unit must pass Housing Quality Standards Inspection. If the unit fails the initial inspection, the landlord will be given a reasonable time to make repairs and the unit will be re-inspected. If the unit fails the re-inspection and the deficiencies are owner’s responsibility, the HAP contract will be terminated and the family will be issued a voucher to find another unit. A third inspection may be approved depending on the type and extend of the deficiency and the owner may be charged a fee to cover the expense of the third inspection.
15. How much rent is GHURA willing to pay for my rental unit?
GHURA will normally pay the going rate for the unit based on size, location, amenities, services, etc.; but not to exceed the maximum approved rate under the current payment standards. A supervisor will perform a rent reasonableness test to ensure the asking rent is reasonable. The rental unit will be compared to other similar units in the area.
16. What is a Payment Standard?
Payment Standards are used to calculate the housing assistance payment that GHURA pays the landlord for rent on behalf of the family leasing the unit. Housing Authorities are given the option to establish a schedule of payment standards by bedroom sizes, consistent with the area’s fair market rent. HUD permits Housing Authorities to set their payment standards between 90 and 110 percent of the fair market rent, in order to adjust to areas’ rental market needs.
17. As a landlord, may I impose an increase in rent during the term of the contract?
Rent increases are not permitted during the first twelve months of the initial term of the contract. Thereafter, a landlord may impose and increase the asking rent, provided the increase is fairly applied to all tenants and not only to Section 8 tenants. If the owner is already receiving the maximum amount approved under the payment standards, the increase will be absorbed by the tenant.
18. How does GHURA determine the family’s level of subsidy?
The family’s level of assistance is determined by calculating the family’s annual household income. As the family’s household income increases, the subsidy decreases.
19. Am I required to have a written lease?
Yes, a written lease agreement is between the Section 8 participant and the property owner. A copy of the lease agreement must be provided during the registration of the unit. The lease agreement must be consistent with the Tenancy Addendum, which outlines the Section 8 Family’s responsibilities while under the program.
20. Am I permitted to evict or terminate the HAP Contract at any time?
The owner may not terminate the HAP contract during the first 12 months of the initial contract, except for cause. The cause to terminate includes the family’s failure to pay their share of the rent, failure to abide by the lease agreement and family obligation, criminal activity, damages caused to the unit, etc.
After the 12-months, the owner may terminate, but only after giving the familya 30-day written notice to vacate the unit. The Tenant may also terminate the lease agreement and they must provide a 30-day written notice to vacate the unit.