The WHA welcomes you to the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher Tenant-based Assistance Program (HCV). The purpose of the HCV Program is to provide rental assistance to eligible low-income families. The HCV Program is a three-way partnership between the WHA, the tenant family, and the owner/landlord.
Through outreach to owners/landlords with rental properties anywhere in the Beaufort County, NC area (see attached listed for areas covered by WHA), the HCV Program offers mobility to families as they search for suitable housing. We encourage families to look for housing in neighborhoods that do not have high concentrations of poverty. To ensure that WHA clients have maximum housing choices, WHA has cooperative agreements with other Housing Authorities. These cooperative agreements make units available outside of traditional WHA areas of operation.
The rules and regulations for the HCV Program are determined by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). The WHA has a set of internal policies that govern the day-to-day operations of the HCV Program. These policies are found in the Section 8 Administrative Plan and are available per request.
The Section 8 Department is organized to ensure that you consistently receive quality customer service from any staff member employed. Each staff member has a Supervisor, each Supervisor reports to the Section 8 Department Assistant Director, and the Assistant Director Reports to the Director.
This handbook was created with owners/landlords in mind. If you have any additional questions or concerns, please contact us.
Section 8 Overview
Section 8 is a rental assistance program funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). It is designed to assist low-income families to rent housing in the private market. Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) families have the same rights and responsibilities as unassisted families. Property owners have all the rights and responsibilities of landlords renting to unassisted families.
WHA issues Housing Choice Vouchers to families who meet income guidelines established by HUD. Utilizing the HCV, the family pays approximately 30% to 40% of their income toward rent and utilities. WHA pays the difference.
Rents are approved based on rents paid for comparable unassisted units in the private market in the neighborhood where the unit is located. All approved rents meet rent reasonable guidelines.
Tenant screening and selection are up to the landlord the WHA does not screen for suitability.
Property owners are required to provide WHA with a lease agreement between you and your tenant. The lease must be in accordance with the Landlord Tenant Law for the State of North Carolina. HCV participants must comply with the terms of the lease. The initial term of any unit leased with an HCV must be 12 months. The landlord may choose to renew or not renew the lease at the end of the initial one-year term or any term thereafter.
Benefits to Landlords:
- Guaranteed monthly rent payments as long as both parties are in compliance
- Rental payment safety net if the family experiences financial hardship
- Direct deposit
- Good residents- it's your choice
- Annual inspections by WHA at no cost to you
- Ability to charge security deposits up to the State allowed amount
- Use of your own rental lease
- Monthly landlord newsletters
How Tenants are Qualified for Section 8
After application, families are placed on the Section 8 waiting list by the date and time of their application. As voucher assistance becomes available, families are selected in chronological order. Working, elderly, and disabled families receive preference for available voucher assistance.
If the family is approved to participate, they are invited to a Section 8 Program Briefing Session and issued a voucher. A family will not receive voucher assistance until they have participated in the briefing session.
At the end of the briefing session, each family will receive a HCV based on their family composition and the occupancy standards. The WHA will approve a bedroom size that will ensure the family can live comfortably without crowding. The WHA will only subsidize the family's rent based upon the approved HCV voucher size or unit size, whichever is smaller.
Should the client select a unit with a larger bedroom size than that approved by WHA, the amount of rent that WHA will pay towards that family's rent will still be based on the amount of rent applicable to the WHA-approved bedroom size. Owners are not allowed to collect rent above the amounts agreed upon. For example, if you have a three-bedroom unit, but the family qualifies for a two-bedroom voucher, the applicant can rent the unit if it meets all the qualifications, but WHA will not pay more than the two-bedroom rent.
- Not only must the applicant qualify for participation in the Section 8 Program, but the property owner must as well. The WHA may not approve rental property if it learns through HUD or any other reliable source that the owner of the property can be included in any or one of the categories listed below:
- The Federal Government has instituted an administrative or judicial action against the owner for violations of the Fair Housing Act or other Federal Equal Opportunity requirements, and such action is pending;
- A court or administrative agency has determined that the owner violated the Fair Housing Act or other Federal Opportunity requirements;
- The owner has violated obligations under a housing assistance payment program under Section 8 The owner has committed fraud, bribery, or any other corrupt or criminal act in connection with the Federal Housing Program;
- The owner has engaged in drug trafficking;
- The owner had a history or practice of non-compliance with the Housing Quality Standards;
- The owner has a history of renting units that fail to meet state or local housing codes;
- The owner has not paid state or local real estate taxes, fines, or assessments
How the Process Begins
Owners/landlords interested in renting their property on the Section 8 program must first solicit a Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher holder. There are various means for advertising your properties:
- Local Newspaper
- Community billboards
- Church or Grocery store billboards
- "For Rent" sign in your yard
Also, you can list your property on SocialServe.com, in addition to posting your property for rent there are valuable links that can be accessed in reference to Section 8 information.
Selecting a Suitable Renter
Look before you lease. You can reduce damage to your property, improve long-term occupancy, decrease late payments, avoid costly evictions, lose rental income, and eliminate criminal activity in your properties by thoroughly screening prospective renters. Applicants interested in renting your property will present a Request for Tenancy Approval for your review and completion. Prior to completing the booklet, you should consider the following:
- Personally interview the family and make sure that all adult members of the household have been identified
- Accept a formal application
- Collect three or more years of residence and employment information. Interview not just the tenants current landlord, but the previous landlord
- Review the rental application with the applicant
- Ask to see photo ID
- Ask for your applicant to sign a release authorizing income verification
- Generate credit reports and compare addresses to those reported on the rental address
- Check public records for prior evictions
Note: WHA does not screen voucher recipients. We are only responsible for determining their eligibility to receive Section 8 voucher assistance.
As you begin to screen your prospective renter, remember Fair Housing Laws. When you make decisions, be consistent and do not discriminate against age, sex, race, or any other protected class. For additional information regarding the Fair Housing law, please click here.
Miscellaneous Fees and Charges
In order to offset costs associated with screening a prospective renter, many owners collect an Application Fee. The fee amounts that you collect must be in line with industry standards.
Security deposit fees are often collected after a renter has been selected. This fee is the families' responsibility. WHA may prohibit security deposits in excess of private market practice. North Carolina State Law allows an owner to charge up to two months' contract rent for a security deposit.
Note: The WHA is not responsible for paying or collecting security deposits.
Completion of the Request for Tenancy Approval (RFTA)
Once you have selected your renter, you and the family must complete the RFTA, which is provided to the tenant when they receive their voucher.
You will need to complete the following sections of the RFTA:
- Management company information is applicable
- Complete the RFTA Approval Page Sections
- 2-unit address
- 3-beginning date of the lease
- 4-number of bedrooms
- 5-year constructed
- 6-proposed rent
- 7- security deposit
- 8-date unit available for inspection
- 9-type of house/apartment
- 10- Only if the unit is subsidized
- 11- utilities and allowances
- Every item that applies must be checked under fuel type
- Every column must be completed under Provided by and Paid by
- Complete the owner information on the 2nd page
- Complete the W9 Complete the authorization for direct deposit
- Complete the disclosure for Lead Base Paint (LBP)
- Rent Comparable Page
Note: Make sure the unit is ready for inspection and residency prior to completing the RFTA. Our voucher recipients are only allowed a limited amount of time for their housing search. It is imperative that they locate a unit ready before their voucher expires.
A Program Specialist will review the requested rent amount to make sure that it is within the Payment Standard. An affordability review is conducted. This is based on the family's reposted household income, payment standard, utility allowance, and your requested rent amount. The family will pay at least 30% of the household-adjusted monthly income for rent. At initial lease-up or unit transfers, a family is not allowed to pay more than 40% of the adjusted monthly income for rent. You and the family will be notified if it has been determined that the household income will not support the requested rent. The options at this point are:
- owner agrees to lower their rent
- tenant may have to find another unit within their affordability range
Note: The process described above is merely an affordability review and does not mean that the rent amount you requested is not reasonable. The criteria for determining whether the 7-- Revised 11/5/2009 requested rent is referred to as "Rent Reasonableness". This process is conducted by the Inspections Department and is performed before the inspection.
Note: A family may experience changes throughout the initial process that may affect their ability to be approved for the rent, such as household income changes and changes in family size. If this should happen, you and the family will be notified immediately.
Proof of Ownership
Before the unit is considered for inspection, you must provide Proof of Ownership.
The process for providing ownership is as follows:
- Owners are required to provide ownership documentation for properties being placed on the HCV program.
- Warranty Deed
- Paid Tax Receipt
- Original W9
- Direct Deposit Form
- Voided Check
- Photo Id
- If owners are processing their properties under a business name, LLC, Corporation, or partnership the articles of organization documents must be provided. The documents must list all the members of the organization.
- All owners must complete a W-9, which must include a Social Security number or Tax Identification Number for the owner's name listed on the warranty deed.
Proof of ownership must be provided on every Request for Tenancy Approval Submitted. Once the proof of ownership has been reviewed and approved, you will be assigned an owner reference account number.
Inspections are conducted to ensure that all units meet Housing Quality Standards (HQS). These standards ensure the unit selected is decent, safe, and sanitary. The initial inspection must be conducted within fifteen (15) days from the date the RFTA is turned in, as long as the unit passes the affordability and rent reasonable review. The scheduling specialist will contact you within 3 to 5 days from the receipt of the RFTA. If the unit is not ready for inspections within 10 days of being submitted to WHA the RFTA will be voided, and the tenant will be contacted to find a new unit.
If the unit does not pass inspection:
- A deficiency letter is generated and sent to both the landlord and tenant.
- When the cited deficiencies are corrected, the owner is responsible for contacting the Scheduling Coordinator to reschedule another inspection
- If the unit fails two (2) inspections in 30 days the RFTA will be voided
- Two (2) inconclusive inspections will be treated the same as two (2) failed inspections
If the unit passes inspection:
- The inspections department forwards the inspection booklet to the program specialist.
- The program specialist will
- Make a final review of the file to determine that it is complete
- Make sure all Owner Files are set-up
- Calculate tenant rent
- Mail the contract to the landlord to sign and returned to the office with a copy of the executed lease.
Refer to the attached list for the most common reasons for failing inspections
The Section 8 Inspector will look for deteriorated paint. If your property was built before 1978, the paint is likely to have lead-based. Lead from paint, paint chips, and dust can pose health hazards if not properly taken care of. Lead exposure is especially harmful to young children and pregnant women. Before renting pre-1978 housing, landlords must disclose the presence of known lead-based paint hazards in the dwelling. The Housing Authority distributes Lead Based Paint pamphlets to all families.
Lead-Based Paint Requirements
What happens if the HQS Inspector finds deteriorated paint?
- If the decorticated paint surface is less than 2 square feet (below the de minimus) in any one room inside of the unit and/or less than 20 square feet (below de minimus) on the exterior of the unit, the owner must employ safe work practices to correct the defective paint, but does not have to obtain a clearance examination report.
- If the deteriorated paint surface is above the de minimus, safe work practices must be employed to correct the defective paint surface, and a clearance report must be obtained.
- If the unit was built after 1960, the new regulations are effective September 15, 2001. The deteriorated surfaces for children under six must still be corrected using safe work practices.
- If the unit has been certified lead-free, a copy of this certification must be given to the HQS Inspector
What happens if the HQS inspection finds deteriorated paint above the de minimum?
- The owner will be notified of the deficiency and the requirement to employ safe work practices. The deficiency must be corrected within 30 days, and the owner must obtain a clearance examination report.
- The owner can choose to have the deteriorated paint surface tested. If the surface tests negative for lead-based paint, the deteriorated paint must be corrected; but safe work practices do not have to be employed. The owner must provide a copy of the test results to the HQS Inspector
What is Rent Reasonable?
In addition to the HQS inspection, the inspector records the information required to determine the rent. Reasonable rent is when the landlord's requested rent is within the accepted Section 8 guidelines. Before each initial inspection, a rent reasonable evaluation is conducted. The rent reasonable evaluation is based on the condition, location, and type of the unit, the amenities, the number of bedrooms, and the utilities furnished by the owner. The rent is compared to the rents of similar private section units in the same area.
The rent you charge Section 8 tenants cannot be higher than the rent you charge non-Section 8 tenants for comparable properties. For example, if you are renting two-bedroom apartments in the same complex to non-assisted tenants for $400, you cannot charge $475 for a unit rented to Section 8 clients.
Owner Provided Leases
Owners/landlords must provide their own lease agreements. The WHA does not provide a lease agreement.
A rental agreement between the landlord and tenant sets the terms applicable to the tenant's tenancy. A lease outlines the terms and conditions for which the tenant must follow while residing in the dwelling. The rules change only if the tenant is given proper notice.
You can obtain a standard lease agreement from any local office supply store or create your own. Should you create your own lease, please make sure you don't add illegal provisions
The WHA will need a copy of the signed lease agreement between you and the tenant for our records. The lease agreement must match the contract in the following aspects:
- The start and end date
- Rent amount
- Who is responsible for what utilities
- Who is responsible for providing what appliances
- The occupants
- The address
- The term of the lease
Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) Contract Execution
Once the unit has passed inspection and the rent requested is approved, the inspection booklet is returned to the program specialist. If the requested rent is not approved, the HAP contract cannot be executed, and the family will be contacted to pick up another RFTA.
When the requested rent amount is approved, the program specialist will complete the final calculation of rent. Once the final rent calculation has been established, no additional or under-the-table monies can be accepted from the tenant. The rent amount that has been established by WHA is within the requirements of the HCV Program. The tenant and Housing Authority's portion of rent cannot exceed the approved rent amount. If, after the calculation, it is determined that the family cannot accept the unit, you and the family will be contacted. At this point, you will have the option of lowering the original rent amount. If you chose not to lower the rent, the family will be contacted to come to pick up a new RFTA and find a new unit.
The program specialist will prepare the following documents for the HAP Contract Execution:
- The HAP contract
- Drug-Free Housing Addendum
- Tenancy Addendum
The WHA will not intervene in landlord-tenant security deposit disputes.
Annual Inspection and Tenant Re-examination Process
The primary purpose of the reexamination is to determine participants' continued eligibility for housing subsidy.
This is done by:
- Updating family income information and recalculating the rent to reflect changes
- Reassessing the family composition
- Conducting a HQS inspection
The scheduling specialist assigns an Inspector and schedules the date and time of the inspection. Notices of annual inspections are sent to both the landlord and the tenant.
The landlord, tenant, or adult 18 years of age with a picture ID, must be present for the annual inspection. Although it is not mandatory, we strongly encourage both parties to be present for the inspection.
During the annual inspection, the inspector will determine which party is responsible for each deficiency identified. Please note the inspections department refers to the owner's responsibility as (O) and the tenant's responsibility as (T). Copies of the deficiency lists are sent to both the owner and the tenant.
If the unit fails the first annual inspection, the scheduling specialist will schedule a re-inspection within 30 days.
If the unit fails the re-inspection because of the owner's deficiencies:
- Unit is placed in abatement, which is a process of suspending HAP for non-compliance.
- The owner is notified in writing of the following: a. Termination of assistance for the unit b. Stop HAP assistance
- The tenant is notified that the unit did not pass the re-inspection, and they will be contacted by the program specialist to be issued an HCV voucher to move.
- Should the tenant remain in the landlord's unit after the termination effective date, they will be responsible for the full rent amount.
If a HAP check was already paid for the month and the re-inspection occurred mid-month, payments will be stopped at the end of the month the unit failed.
If a re-inspection fails due to tenants' deficiencies:
- Program specialist will send a letter of termination of assistance to the tenant. The tenant will also be notified that if they remain in the unit after the termination effective date, they are responsible for all rent due. Tenants that are terminated from the HCV program are granted the right to request a hearing.
- The landlord will be notified of the tenant's termination.
If the re-inspection fails due to both landlord and tenant deficiencies, please refer to the above processes.
Upon re-inspection, if the inspector finds additional deficiencies, the inspector is required to generate an additional deficiency inspection booklet. If additional deficiencies are found on an annual inspection, additional time will be given to correct them depending on the severity of the deficiency found
Owner Request for Rent Increases
Owners may not request rent adjustments during the first initial term of the contract. The Housing Authority must receive a written copy of the increase that has been signed and acknowledged by both parties. This increase must be submitted 60 days prior to the effective date. WHA will approve or deny the requested amount, based on the rent's reasonable determination. It is possible the tenant's share of the rent will increase.
If the dwelling unit passes the annual HQS inspection, the owner is otherwise in compliance with the terms of the lease and the contract. If the owner is in compliance and the rent was determined as reasonable, the contract rent will be adjusted sixty (60) after the original request was submitted. Increases go into effect on the 1st of the month.
Tenant Annual Re-examination Process
It is the responsibility of WHA to conduct re-examinations every year on all participants being assisted under the HCV program. The tenants are sent notices for an individual re-examination interview.
During the interview process, the family does the following:
- Completes a personal declaration form
- Provides updated household income information
- Provides any changes in the family income
All of the information brought in by the tenant is reviewed and verified. Adjustments are made to the tenant file should there be any increases or decreases in family size and/or income. If it is determined that the family is no longer eligible for the voucher size they currently have, the family will be reissued the correct size voucher.
If the owner decides to renew the family's lease under its existing terms and conditions, a copy will need to be provided to WHA. If the owner decides to renew the lease for a term other than month to month or conditions of the lease change, then the owner must notify the Housing Authority. A change in the terms or conditions may result in a new Housing Assistant Payment Contract being executed. Changes in the owner's lease without the Housing Authority's knowledge automatically void the Housing Assistance Payment Contract.
Other Types of Inspections
- Complaint inspection- a complaint inspection is generated by the participant, owner, neighbors WHA, the City, etc. The complaint must be made in writing. If the complaint is of a legal or life-threatening nature, it will be referred to law enforcement officials.
- Once a complaint is received, it is forwarded to the inspection scheduling specialist
- You and the participant will be notified by phone. If you are unable to be reached by phone, you will be notified in writing. The inspection date and time will be made within three (3) business days of receipt of the complaint if an inspection is warranted.
If the complaint is valid:
- The unit fails HQS inspection
- A deficiency letter is mailed to the owner and the tenant listing all of the deficiencies found during the inspection. The letter will also include the amount of time given to both parties to make the necessary repairs and the date and time of the re-inspection.
- The re-inspection must take place within 30 days unless one of the deficiencies is determined critical.
- A critical deficiency must be corrected within 24 hours; a longer time will be allowed if not life-threatening.
- The inspection scheduling specialist will schedule a re-inspection within 24 to 48 hours and will make every effort, by phone, to notify the owner and the tenant of the scheduled inspection. The inspection will automatically fail if no one is present.
- If the owner is responsible for the deficiencies and has not made the necessary corrections within the time allotted, WHA will initiate the abatement process of the HAP. Upon instituting the abatement, the tenant will be given a new HCV to move.
- If the unit fails and the deficiencies are the fault of the tenant, the program specialist will send the tenant a notice of assistance termination and notify the owner of the termination.
- Occupancy inspections-there may be occasions that warrant an occupancy inspection, normally, this type of inspection is conducted when the Housing Authority has been notified that there may be unauthorized guests residing in Section 8 approved property.
- Special Unit Inspections- special unit inspections include Quality Control, Internal Audit, and the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) audit. The following briefly describes each special unit inspection.
- WHA will, on a random basis, conduct inspections to ensure the quality and compliance of each inspector's performance. This is known as quality control inspections
- WHA conducts internal audits to determine departmental compliance and performance
- To determine WHA compliance and performance, HUD will conduct random audits
Termination of Tenancy by Owners
You can terminate tenancy during the term of the lease because of:
- Serious or repeated lease violations of the lease agreement. When issuing lease violations, you must do so in writing to the tenant and WHA. In the notice, you will need to include the lease violation
- Violation of Federal, State, or Local laws regarding the use or occupancy of the building and surrounding area
- Criminal activity or alcohol abuse see paragraph 8c of the HAP contract HUD 52641
- Other good cause see paragraph 8c of the HAP contract HUD 52641
You may evict a tenant only by instituting court action. At the same time, you must notify the WHA that you are filing the eviction action and send a copy of that notice to the tenant.
If you file an eviction, make sure you do it correctly according to the laws. Please keep in mind that the tenant may seek legal representation and request to see all documentation. Always refer to the North Carolina Landlord Tenant Law for guidelines.
Tenant Move Out without Proper Notice
If the family vacates the unit without notice, it is considered a violation of the Family Obligations, and the family's assistance will be terminated, and no additional HAP will be paid. Should you recognize that your unit is vacated, you must notify WHA immediately. Failure to do so will result in payments deducted from future assistance and possible legal action.
Termination of Assistance by WHA
The WHA has the responsibility to administer the Section 8 Program by HUD regulations. WHA may deny or terminate assistance for an action or failure to act by any participant and owner. The WHA may deny or terminate assistance for any of the following:
- Violation of any of the Family Obligations under the Section 8 Program, including violations by family members on the lease
- Violation of any of the Owner Obligations under the Section 8 Program
Change of Ownership
Change of ownership could take up to 30 days for processing. The WHA will process a change of ownership upon receipt of the written request and after ownership verification has been completed. The following information must be submitted:
- Warranty Deed
- Paid Tax Receipt
- Original W9
- Direct Deposit Form
- Voided Check
- Photo ID
The WHA will send Form 1099-MISC notices each year.
The owner/landlord has the following major responsibilities:
- Tenant Selection and leasing.
- Housing Authority must inform the owner that Housing Authority has not screened the family's behavior or suitability for tenancy; it is the owner's responsibility.
- Owners are permitted to screen based on a family's tenancy history.
- Owner may consider a family's background regarding factors such as:
- Payment of rent and utility bills
- Caring for a unit/premises
- Respecting other's rights for peaceful enjoyment of their housing
- Drug-related criminal activity or other criminal activity that is a threat to the life, safety, or property of others
- Compliance with other essential conditions of tenancy
- Compliance with the Voucher Subsidy Contract and/or Housing Assistance Payments (HAP) Contract.
- Normal landlord functions during the lease term (i.e. maintenance, rent collection, issuing of lease violations, and evictions.)
- Compliance with program lease.
- Owner responsibilities are defined in the HAP Contract or Subsidy Contract, the Lease, Federal Regulations, and State and local City Law (Mo. Landlord/Tenant law).
- The owner must maintain the unit to Housing Quality Standards. If the owner fails to do so, the Housing Authority may terminate, suspend, or reduce housing assistance payments and terminate the HAP Contract.
- The owner is not responsible for a breach of the HQS for which the family is responsible.
- The owner must adhere to provisions on modifications for reasonable accommodations to a dwelling unit occupied or to be occupied by a disabled person in accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1992.
Roles - the tenant, the landlord, the housing agency, and HUD: Once a PHA approves an eligible family's housing unit, the family and the landlord sign a lease and, at the same time, the landlord and the PHA sign a housing assistance payments contract that runs for the same term as the lease. This means that everyone -- tenant, landlord, and PHA -- has obligations and responsibilities under the voucher program.
Tenant's Obligations: When a family selects a housing unit, and the PHA approves the unit and lease, the family signs a lease with the landlord for at least one year. The tenant may be required to pay a security deposit to the landlord. After the first year, the landlord may initiate a new lease or allow the family to remain in the unit on a month-to-month lease.
When the family is settled in a new home, the family is expected to comply with the lease and the program requirements, pay its share of rent on time, maintain the unit in good condition and notify the PHA of any changes in income or family composition.
Landlord's Obligations: The role of the landlord in the voucher program is to provide decent, safe, and sanitary housing to a tenant at a reasonable rent. The dwelling unit must pass the program's housing quality standards and be maintained up to those standards as long as the owner receives housing assistance payments. In addition, the landlord is expected to provide the services agreed to as part of the lease signed with the tenant and the contract signed with the PHA.
Housing Authority's Obligations: The PHA administers the voucher program locally. The PHA provides a family with housing assistance that enables the family to seek out suitable housing, and the PHA enters into a contract with the landlord to provide housing assistance payments on behalf of the family. If the landlord fails to meet the owner's obligations under the lease, the PHA has the right to terminate assistance payments. The PHA must reexamine the family's income and composition at least annually and must inspect each unit at least annually to ensure that it meets minimum housing quality standards.
HUD's Role: To cover the cost of the program, HUD provides funds to allow PHAs to make housing assistance payments on behalf of the families. HUD also pays the PHA a fee for the costs of administering the program. When additional funds become available to assist new families, HUD invites PHAs to submit applications for funds for additional housing vouchers. Applications are then reviewed, and funds are awarded to the selected PHAs on a competitive basis. HUD monitors the PHA administration of the program to ensure program rules are properly followed.