Property Owners Frequently Asked Questions

1) What is the section 8 program?

The section 8 program is a federally funded rent subsidy for low and moderately low-income families. The arlington housing authority administers the section 8 rental assistance program called the housing choice voucher program.

2) What is the housing choice voucher program?

The housing choice voucher program requires that each family pay at least 30% of their adjusted gross income but no higher than 40% toward their rent and utilities for the first year in this program. However, after the first year the family can pay above the 40% of their adjusted gross income.

3) Who can participate in the program?

Families must apply to the housing authority. Presently we have the centralized waiting list that people can apply for. Their income must be below the level set by hud for the community. The housing authority will also check their criminal history for drug and /or violent criminal activity.

4) Who selects the units leased under the program?

The families themselves select the apartment. They are free to move anywhere in the country. No owner is required to rent to a particular family and no family is required to live in a particular unit.

5) What units are acceptable to the program?

All apartments that are in decent, safe, and sanitary condition after a housing authority inspection and that have rents with the program guidelines as published by hud are eligible.

6) How are rents determined?

Hud publishes the fair market rents each year. The fair market rent's are based on bedroom sizes and reflects the community. The housing authority must approve the actual rent based on the size of the family, the location, the amenities provided by the landlord as well as the rents for non-subsidized units in the area.

7) How does a landlord participate in the program?

If a participating family wants to rent an apartment, both the owner and the family must complete and sign a request for tenancy approval.

8) Can a landlord screen a tenant?

Yes, and we highly recommend it. The housing authority only verifies the tenant's eligibility for the section 8 program. It does not screen them for suitability. A prospective landlord should always check the tenant's references. Remember, a portion of the tenant's rent will be subsidized now, so if they were late in paying their rent prior to the program, the subsidy could resolve that issue.

9) If the apartment does not pass the inspection, is the owner still obligated to the tenant?

No, if the owner cannot make the necessary repairs they should tell the tenant as soon as possible so they can look for another apartment. He should also notify the housing authority.

10) What do you look for in an inspection? How often is there an inspection?

The apartment must meet the minimum requirements. The inspector uses the massachusetts state sanitary code, chapter ii: hud's housing quality standards and any local codes. The inspections are done annually.

11) Is the housing authority responsible for the tenant' share of the rent or the security deposit?

No the tenant is responsible to pay the rent in accordance with the lease and pay a security deposit if the landlord requests one. The program does not allow the owner to collect the last months rent. He can only collect the tenant's portion of the first months rent along with a security deposit (if requested).

12) Can a tenant work and still be on the program?

Yes, section 8 is for low and moderate income families. Many tenants work, for example, a family of four can have a household income of approximately $48,150.00

13) Does the housing authority pay the landlord or the tenant?

The housing authority pays their portion of the rent directly to the landlord and the tenant pays their portion directly to the landlord. The housing authority checks are mailed out on or about the first of the month.

14) If a tenant moves out do I have to take another section 8 tenant?

No, you have the same rights with a section 8 tenant as you do with any other tenant.

15) Do I have to sign a lease?

Yes, hud requires a lease between the tenant and the owner and a contract between the owner and the housing authority. Landlords are required to supply their own leases with the tenant. If you already have leases with other tenants (subsidized or not) you must use the same lease as theirs. Lease's can be purchased at any stationary store or the housing authority can supply you with one.

16) Who is responsible to maintain the apartment?

The landlord is always responsible for the general maintenance of the unit, however the tenant is responsible for any tenant caused damage.

17) Can the amount of the rent ever change?

Yes, each year when the tenant comes up for recertification the landlord may request a rent increase. Whether or not an increase would be honored is determined on hud's budget at the time of the request.

18) Can the owner evict tenants?

Yes, the owner can evict any tenant who violates the lease agreement in accordance with the terms of the lease.

19) What happens if the tenant looses their job?

The tenant simply reports the change to the housing authority and their rent will be adjusted downward accordingly. The housing authority will simply pay a greater portion of the total rent for the apartment.

20) Is the section 8 program a good program for a landlord to be involved in?

We think so and so do approximately 400 landlords in arlington. Most of them request a new section tenant when a family moves from their apartment.

21) How do i find out about the section 8 program or list my apartment?

Great Question!!!! Just call the Arlington Housing Authority, Section 8 Department @ 781-646-3400 @ x 18 or 19.