Skip to Main Content
Newberry Housing Authority Logo

Questions and Answers

What Is the Housing Choice Voucher Program?

The Housing Choice Voucher Program is a rental assistance program that is funded through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). The Newberry Housing Authority (NHA) is a public housing authority that administers the program in Rurtherford County for the federal government. 

The purpose of the Program is to enable eligible families or individuals to have decent, safe, and sanitary housing by paying a portion of rental costs, which includes utilities (does not include phone or cable). The Program is a rental assistance program.

What Is the Rent Payment Based On?

In the Housing Choice Voucher Program, the rent payment is based on the lesser of the Payment Standard or the gross rent of the unit (rent and utilities). The Payment Standard is an amount between 90 and 110% of the Fair Market Rent. The family may rent a unit that rents for more than the Payment Standard and pay a greater portion of their income for rent and utilities. If, however, the family selects a unit where the gross rent (rent and utilities) exceeds the payment Standard, their family contribution for rent may not exceed 40% of their monthly-adjusted income. Rent increases are not limited by an Annual Adjustment Factor, but must be reasonable in comparison with area market rents.

Who Is Eligible for Assistance?

Both families and individuals are eligible to receive HCV assistance. The applicant must have an income below either the very low-income limit (50% of area median) or the extremely low-income limit (30% of area median) to qualify. HUD establishes the HCV income limits each year. In addition, the applicant must not have an outstanding debt to any public housing agency nor have been evicted from public housing in the past three years. The applicant must be a U.S. citizen or eligible non-citizen.

How Does an Owner Determine If a Family Is an HCV Participant?

A participant is issued a Housing Choice Voucher before they begin their search for a housing unit. The participant will have a Request for Tenancy Approval form which must be completed (see "Required Forms"). An owner should always contact the NHA staff before signing a lease with an HCV family. The unit must pass a Housing Quality Standards (HQS) inspection, and a Housing Assistance Payments (hap) Contract must be signed by the owner and NHA before a rental subsidy may begin. NHA assumes no responsibility for any portion  of the rent payment Prior To The Effective Date Of The HAP Contract.

What Type of Units Qualify?

Eligible unit types include houses, duplexes, apartments, and mobile homes. The unit must be privately owned. The family receiving assistance cannot have any financial interest in the unit. A person or persons owning a unit may not receive rental assistance for the unit that they own. The owner of the unit may not be related to any member of the participant's household, unless the family includes a member with a disability and NHA has approved the unit as a reasonable accommodation for the disability. 

  • There are no designated HCV units. Each family is free to choose the unit they wish to rent. However, the unit chosen must meet the following conditions:
  • The owner must be willing to participate in the program.
  • The owner must be willing to sign a one-year lease with the family, and sign a housing assistance payments contract with NHA.
  • The unit must pass an inspection.
  • The rent requested by the owner must be reasonable in comparison to other nonsubsidized rents for comparable units in the area.
  • The unit must not be owner occupied, or any portion used by the owner (such as for storage).
  • The unit must be the right size for the family according to program guidelines.
  • The owner's proposed lease must be acceptable.
  • The final acceptability of a unit is the decision of the Housing Choice Voucher Program staff.

How Much Paperwork?

The owner is expected to sign several documents. First, the family is given a copy of the Request For Tenancy Approval (see "required forms"). This form must be signed by the owner and family when the family locates a unit that they desire to lease, and the family has been approved to rent the unit. After NHA staff receives the form, they must determine that the rent is reasonable according to local market conditions (see below, "How much may I charge for rent?").

Second, a lease must be signed between the family and the owner, and NHA must maintain a copy in the tenant file. The lease must specify all of the following: name of the owner; name of the family; unit rented (address, apartment number, and any other information needed to identify the unit); the initial term of the lease and provision for renewal terms; amount of the monthly rent to owner; utilities and appliances that are to be supplied by the owner; and utilities and appliances that are to be supplied by the family. The lease should include the amount of the security deposit. The lease should also address the notice period for termination of tenancy and rent increases after the initial term.

Third, a Housing Assistance Payments Contract must be signed between NHA and the owner (see "Required Forms").

Fourth, NHA must receive a completed W-9 (see "Required Forms"), copy of the Social Security Card or Federal Tax ID number, picture id, and proof of ownership for the property (such as tax bill or closing statement) for each owner to establish an owner account payable record (if not already established). Bank information, including a voided check, is required for direct deposit.

Who Makes the Rental Payment, and When May an Owner Expect to Receive the Payment?

Each month NHA makes a housing assistance payment directly to the owner. The amount due to the owner is directly deposited into the owner's account no later than the 5th of each month. The family is responsible for paying their portion of the rent directly to the owner according to the terms of the lease. The owner is responsible for collecting the tenant's portion of the rent.

How Much Rent Is the Family Expected to Pay?

The family contribution toward rent is based on income. Housing Choice Voucher families typically pay 30% of their monthly adjusted income toward rent and utilities. If the gross rent (rent and utilities) exceeds the Payment Standard, however, the family may have to pay a greater amount of their income toward rent and utilities.

How Much May I Charge for Rent?

A rent limit is not applicable in the Housing Choice Voucher program. The owner establishes the contract rent. NHA may not approve a unit for the Voucher program, however, if the contract rent exceeds rents charged for similar, unsubsidized units in the market area (census tract). NHA conducts ongoing rent surveys to determine rent reasonability. 

In addition, NHA may not approve a unit for the Program if the gross rent for the unit exceeds the Payment Standard and the family's contribution toward rent is greater than 40% of their monthly adjusted income.

Are Rent Increases Allowed?

Yes. An owner may request a rent increase 90 days prior to the renewal date of the lease. Notice must be given to the family and NHA. The owner determines the amount of the increase. HCV staff must determine, however, that the contract rent after the increase is still reasonable compared to other similar, unsubsidized units in the market area. The family must also agree to the rent increase. If the new contract rent is not rent reasonable, the owner must decrease the rent to a reasonable rent, or the Housing Assistance Payments Contract will be terminated with a 30-day notice to the landlord and family. If the family decides they cannot afford the increase in rent, they are eligible to relocate with a proper written notice to the landlord and NHA. If granted, the rent increase is effective on the lease renewal date.

May I Collect a Security Deposit?

Yes. NHA encourages owners to collect a security deposit according to local market practice. The security deposit should not exceed that charged to other unassisted renters and should not exceed one month's contract rent.

Who Selects and Screens The Tenants?

The selection and screening of suitable tenants is the responsibility of the owner. NHA only screens the family for initial eligibility according to program criteria (income, citizenship, previous assisted housing, criminal record). When you are contacted by a prospective renter, evaluate them as you would any other renter. Make sure that your tenant selection standards are based on objective, business-related considerations, such as previous history of non-payment, damages to unit, or disturbance of neighbors. Owners must apply the same standards of tenant selection to any family who applies, whether that family is a prospective HCV renter or not. Tenant selection must not be based upon race, color, age, religion, sex, familial status, disabilities, or any other discriminatory factors. 

If the NHA has previous rental history information for a family, NHA will provide owners with the previous addresses of the family and the name of previous owners for reference checks. HCV staff will also provide the following information based on documentation in its possession if requested: eviction history, damage to rental units, housekeeping, and domestic disturbances.

How Often Is the Unit Inspected?

The unit must pass an HQS inspection (see "HQS Summary") before the HCV family may move into the unit. If the family currently occupies the unit, it must pass an inspection before a housing assistance payment may begin. 

The unit must be inspected at least every 12 months while the unit remains on the Voucher Program. Each family is assigned an "annual recertification" date. The family's eligibility is re-determined 90 to 120 days in advance of the annual recertification date each year. An HQS inspection will be conducted 30 to 60 days in advance of the annual recertification date unless the family is moving to another unit.

What Are the Inspection Criteria?

Before the NHA can make payments to an owner on behalf of a family, the unit must meet HUD's minimum Housing Quality Standards (HQS). These standards have been implemented by HUD nationwide to ensure that all assisted units meet minimum health and safety standards. 

A summary of the housing quality standards inspection criteria is included in this booklet. A detailed HQS inspection form is available upon request.

Who Pays for The Utilities?

The owner and the family decide who is responsible for each utility. Both the lease and HAP contract must stipulate who is responsible for each utility. Regardless of who is responsible to pay each utility, for the unit to pass the HCV housing quality standards inspection, every unit must have electricity, hot and cold running water, an adequate and acceptable permanent heat source, a refrigerator, and a cooking stove.

How Long Is the Family Eligible for Assistance?

A family's eligibility is re-determined every 12 months. Each family has an annual recertification date that is based on the initial move-in date to their current unit in the HCV program. If the family began receiving a rental subsidy for a particular unit on May 15, their annual recertification date is May 1 for the next year. The family's eligibility will be re-determined and an HQS inspection of the unit will be conducted 30 to 60 days in advance of this date. A family continues receiving HCV rental assistance as long as they continue to be eligible, the unit where they reside passes HQS, and the family does not violate any of their family obligations in the program (see "Family Obligations and Responsibilities").

If the family vacates a unit, the payment for the unit stops. The owner is entitled to keep the housing assistance payment only for the month in which the family relocated. Any money received after a family vacates the unit should be returned to the NHA. The owner should always notify the NHA when an HCV tenant vacates the unit.

If the family's assistance is terminated because of a violation of their family obligations, the owner is notified that the Housing Assistance Payments contract is terminated. If the owner agrees, the family may remain in the unit and pay all their rent.

May An Owner Evict a Section 8 Tenant?

An owner may evict an HCV family under the terms of the lease agreement. The owner must follow state and local laws regarding evictions. The owner must give the NHA a written notice of the eviction. In some circumstances, eviction is grounds for termination of the HCV family's rental assistance.

Who Is Responsible for Unpaid Tenant Rent and Damages?

If a family does not pay their portion of the rent or causes damage to the unit, the owner may elect to evict the family. The security deposit may be applied toward unpaid rent and damages.

May An Owner Sell a Property Occupied by An HCV Family?

Yes, the NHA requests that you contact the staff and notify the family as soon as possible. In all cases, the NHA and the family must be given at least a 30-day notice. If the new buyer is willing to honor the HCV HAP Contract, an addendum will be signed.