The Vancouver Housing Authority partners closely with local private landlords in serving low-income families, elderly people, and people with disabilities. Particularly; through the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher program, local landlords play an integral role in the VHA's mission.
Understanding the Process
From Certification to Assistance Under the Section 8 Voucher Program
- The applicant is interviewed to determine eligibility.
- If determined eligible, the applicant is issued a voucher.
- The voucher holder (applicant) is given 60 days to find appropriate housing. Two 30 day extensions are available under certain circumstances, such as a reasonable accommodation to accommodate a person’s disability.
- The voucher holder is provided a copy of the voucher and a Request for Tenancy Approval (RFTA) with a cover letter for prospective landlords and a worksheet telling them how their rent was calculated and the maximum contract rent they can afford.
- Tenant selection is an important part of the process for the landlord. The selected voucher holder provides the cover letter and RFTA to a prospective landlord. The prospective landlord and the tenant complete the RFTA, providing the following information:
- The address of the unit
- The landlord's name
- The landlord's phone number
- The rent amount
- A list of the utilities the tenant must pay in addition to rent
- Completed lease, but not dated or signed
- Direct deposit form and W-9 Form. The landlord may provide these directly to the VHA if they do not wish to give the information to the tenant.
- The tenant's voucher specialist contacts the landlord for any additional information or if the rent is not reasonable or affordable to the tenant.
- The Housing Inspector calls and sets an appointment to inspect the unit.
- If the unit passes Housing Quality Standards, the Inspector reports to the voucher specialist. If the unit fails inspection, the landlord is notified of the Required Maintenance. The landlord can:
- Make repairs required to bring the unit up to standards, or,
- Not repair the unit (not participate in the program). If the landlord chooses not to participate, the voucher holder still has the remainder of the 60 days to find another unit.
- Assistance will not begin until the unit passes inspection.
- The final documents (lease and HAP Contract) are signed by the landlord and tenant.
- The first payment is made on the next VHA payment date.
Before an applicant can be assisted in a unit, the unit must pass a Housing Quality Standards inspection. A unit must be decent, safe, and sanitary. The following is a list of items that frequently cause a unit to fail on an inspection for the Section 8 program.
- Rotten or soft sub-floor around tub, toilet, sinks, or laundry area
- Heavy mold on windows, sills, shower, or tub areas
- Peeling chipping paint on the inside and/or the outside of the unit
- Missing, cracked or broken electrical outlets or switch plates
- Cracked or broken windows and/or poor door weather-stripping
- A hot water tank with an improper relief valve or a valve without a vent pipe
- Windows or access doors that do not have working locks
- Broken heaters and/or no thermostat control knobs
- Ripped or loose carpet or vinyl that is a tripping hazard
- Signs of leaks in walls or ceilings
- Trash or garbage around the unit
- Lack of refrigerator or working oven/range
- No covered garbage can
- Three or more steps with no handrail
- Unsafe and/or falling down fences
- No power or water to unit
- Each unit must include at least one smoke detector, in proper working condition, on each level of the unit
- Looped strings/chains on window drapes/blinds
In addition to the initial inspection, the VHA will inspect units at least every two years. We recommend that you protect your investment by inspecting the unit in years when the VHA does not. We will also, upon request by the tenant or landlord, complete special inspections.
Lead Based Paint
The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has implemented new regulations regarding lead based paint in units built prior to 1978 where children under 6 years old reside or may reside in the future. Inspectors are required to inspect for deteriorated paint (where surfaces are peeling, cracking, chipping or chalking) in these units. If deteriorated paint is found, then the unit can not pass inspection until the owner obtains a Clearance Report from a Certified Lead Inspector. Because obtaining the report can be time consuming and expensive, owners are strongly advised to inspect their property and take care of any deteriorated paint prior to the inspection. You can obtain more information about lead based paint hazards and safe work practices from HUD.
The amount of security deposit a landlord can collect from the tenant is determined by the landlord. The security deposit for assisted tenants may not exceed security deposits for non-assisted tenants, or what is common practice in the private rental market. The security deposit is paid by the tenant and is 100% refundable unless there are itemized charges for unpaid rent, damages and/or cleaning beyond normal wear and tear.
A reasonable pet deposit or fee may be collected in addition to the security deposit. The pet fee need not be refundable.
Contract Rent is the maximum amount the owner can collect from the VHA and the tenant. A landlord cannot collect any money other than that specified in the lease and lease amendments.
Three factors determine Contract Rent:
- Federal regulations require that the housing authority certify that the rent amount is reasonable. To determine reasonableness, the unit will be compared to non-assisted units with similar location, amenities, size, age, services, etc.
- The tenant’s rent must be affordable according to his income, the VHA may also disapprove a lease if it is determined that the tenant would be paying more than 50% of their monthly income for rent.
- The owner must notify the VHA of any changes in the amount of the rent to the owner at least sixty days before any such changes go into effect, and the amount of rent to owner following any such agreed change may not exceed the reasonable rent for the unit as most recently determined or re-determined by the VHA in accordance with HUD requirements.
The VHA Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) is paid directly to the landlord. Payment is made the first of every month. The first payment is issued only after signatures have been obtained.
The tenant payment is collected by the landlord.
Landlord Information Packet
A Section 8 landlord uses the lease of their choice. The lease must not conflict with the Tenancy Addendum which becomes a part of the lease. The landlord also enters into a HAP Contract with the Housing Authority. Sample documents are below.
The Housing Authority has partnered with www.Gosection8.com, which provides an enhanced program to list rental properties on line. Listings are available to potential Housing Choice Voucher tenants seeking apartment units, duplexes, single-family homes or townhomes in the private market. If you have any questions regarding registering, creating or viewing property listings, please contact the GoSection8 toll free help line at 1-866-466-7328.
It is recommended that Landlords add photos to their listing for better advertising and faster lease up!
All new HAP contracts will be paid through electronic payments.