Housing Choice Voucher Program (Section 8)
Property Owner's Frequently Asked Questions

 

Property Owners and Managers, you can be a part of the solution to affordable housing in Berkeley by participating in the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher Program.  


FAQs

 


What are the responsibilities of an owner in the voucher program?
Answer: Property owners maintain the same rights and responsibilities in the voucher program as they would with an open-market tenancy, including:
 

  • Performing all management and rental functions, including tenant screening.  

  • Ensuring that the property meets basic health and safety standards, including paying for any owner-supplied utilities 

  • Collecting a security deposit, tenant monthly rent portion, and charges for damages caused by the tenant

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What can I expect from a voucher tenant?
Answer: Voucher holders have the same responsibilities as any other tenant. They are obligated to fulfill the terms and conditions in their lease, including:

  • Paying the security deposit 

  • Paying rent on time 

  • Maintaining the property, including paying utilities in their name 

  • Allowing the owner and Housing Authority reasonable access for inspections 

  • Paying for any tenant-caused damage to the property 

  • Using the residence solely as a residence for approved household members 

  • Giving proper written notice (30 days) when choosing to vacate

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If I rent to one voucher holder, do all my units have to be Section 8?
Answer: No. Just because you rent to one Section 8 tenant does not mean you have to rent only to Section 8 tenants. Property owners retain the right to screen prospective tenants and select the best tenant for their property, whether they are a voucher holder or not.

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What information does the Housing Authority require from owners?
Answer: A property owner new to the Housing Choice Voucher Program will need to complete a "Request for Tax ID Number" (a form supplied by the Housing Authority) and may need to show proof of ownership if the property has been newly purchased.

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What Legal Documents are used in the Housing Choice Voucher Program?
Answer: Only two, a Lease Agreement and Housing Assistance Payments Contract (HAPC).  After the rental unit passes an initial inspection, a HAPC is prepared and mailed to the property owner along with a courtesy Lease Agreement. An owner may chose to use his or her own Lease but must attach the Section 8 program Tenancy Addendum that addresses the family's and owner's responsibilities.

When the signed Housing Assistance Contract (HAPC) and Lease Agreement are returned, the Housing Authority begins payments on behalf of the tenant.

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If I choose to rent to a voucher holder, what is the process involved?
Answer: A summary of the steps, which are described in more detail in other questions is listed below:

  • The prospective tenant submits the completed Request for Tenancy Approval (RTA)  

  • You will be contacted by a Housing Specialist or Inspector to schedule an inspection of the unit to be rented.  

  • Once the unit is approved, lease and HAPC are signed, and the tenant pays the security deposit and their portion of the rent the tenant moves in.  

  • Shortly thereafter, you will receive your first payment from the housing authority.

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Does the housing authority screen tenants?
Answer: The Housing Authority does screening as to income eligibility for the program and criminal background screening in limited circumstances. Screening for tenant suitability remains the landlord's responsibility.

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If I sign the Request for Tenancy Approval (RTA) form am I committed to renting to the family?
Answer: No. The Request for Tenancy Approval form is simply your intention to rent to the tenant and sets the terms for the tenancy. Either party may withdraw from the process before a lease or contract is executed. Your lease is the binding agreement with your tenant.

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After I sign the RTA and the family submits it to the Housing Authority, how long before an inspection is scheduled?
Answer: The Housing Authority's goal is to contact the property owner within three business days of the RTA's submission to our office. An inspection is then scheduled at the property owner's convenience.  Before Housing Authority staff contacts the owner, the family's share of rent is calculated and the preliminary screening for rent comparability is completed for discussion with the owner.

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What do inspectors look for when inspecting my rental property?
Answer:
HUD requires all required repairs be completed before the Housing Authority starts a Section 8 contract. Additionally, while your unit is under contract, the Housing Authority will inspect your property at least annually.

Following is a list of commonly found required repair items:

  • Electrical cover plates are cracked, broken or missing.

  • Smoke detectors are missing or not working (e.g., batteries removed). A working smoke detector is required for each level of a dwelling.

  • Gas, electric, and water service is not turned on. All appliances, including the heater, will be tested and inspected.

  • Stove & Refrigerator are not in the unit and in working condition at the time of inspection. (If the tenant is required to furnish appliances, these will be re-inspected once they are installed in the unit.)

  • Carpeting has seams pulling apart or other tripping hazards.

  • Water Leaks

  • Windows are badly cracked or broken.

  • Water heater doesn't have a temperature pressure release valve with a drain line.

  • Bathroom fan is not present or plugged in and in working condition. (If the bathroom has a window, a fan is not required.)

  • Debris is not removed from the interior and/or exterior of the unit.

Note: The Berkeley Housing Authority is required to assure HUD the unit is decent, safe and sanitary. BHA  does not perform building code enforcement.

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How do I ?
Answer: In most cases the owner will receive the first payment from the Housing Authority within 14 days after the contract paperwork is returned. Subsequent payments will arrive on the first of each month.  The tenant pays their portion of rent directly to the property owner.

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What about security deposits?
Answer: Property owners are entitled to collect a security deposit from Housing Choice Voucher participants.  The security deposit cannot exceed amounts collected from non-Section 8 tenants and must be in line with California law.

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Who takes care of tenant-caused damages during the tenancy?
Answer: As in all tenancies, repairs for tenant-caused damages are the responsibility of the tenant.  Failure to make repairs may be grounds to terminate the lease and participation in the Section 8 program. The security deposit may also be used for reimbursement costs.

How do I terminate the tenancy of a Housing Choice Voucher tenant?
Answer: If a tenant falls behind in the rent or violates any of their lease obligations, you should use the remedy defined in your lease agreement (such as a 3 or 30-day notice).

If you have decided to end the tenancy without cause at the end of the lease term, newly passed state legislation (SB1098) has been interpreted by some housing advocates as requiring ninety days notice to subsidized families. You should consult your attorney for guidance on this issue.

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May I rent my property under the Housing Choice Voucher Program to a relative?
Answer: Federal regulations do not allow the Housing Authority to subsidize the rent of any participant if the property owner is the parent, child, grandparent, grandchild, sister or brother of any member of the participant's household unless as a reasonable accommodation for a family member with disabilities.

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I am interested in the voucher program but still have questions. Who do I contact?
Answer: Call the Housing Authority at (510) 981-5470. Explain that you are interested in renting your property through the voucher program and that you would like to speak to the Housing Specialist who would handle your unit. Housing Specialists are assigned specific neighborhoods of specific cities. Have the city and street name of the unit you want to rent available so that we can direct you to the correct Housing Specialist.

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