How does participation in Section 8 benefit the landlord? Landlords receive timely and direct program payments, are assisted in the screening process, and partner with the local housing agency in the provision of decent safe, and sanitary housing to lower-income families. Many owners experience reduced vacancy and turnover expense due to the potential for long-term stable tenancies.
How does a landlord participate? Landlords become involved by agreeing to rent to a family that has Section 8 assistance. Families contact the landlord directly, or landlords may list available rental properties, free of charge, online at www.mdhousingsearch.org or by calling 1-877-428-8844. From the listing, eligible families contact landlords and landlords screen and select a family. The property is then inspected for compliance with HUD standards. After the unit passes the inspection, a Housing Assistance Payments (HAP) Contract is executed between the landlord and the Housing Authority to begin subsidy payments, and a lease is executed between the landlord and the tenant.
What standards must the property meet? General health and safety standards specified by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), known as Housing Quality Standards (HQS), and portions of the BOCA National Property Maintenance Code. Initial and annual inspections are made of all properties, which may be duplexes, apartments, single family dwellings, or mobile homes.
How does a family apply? A family may complete an application in person at the Housing Authority office, located at 35 West Baltimore Street, or through the mail. Applicant names are placed on a wait list according to date of application and need. The waiting period is for funds to become available to subsidize the next family on the wait list, not for the availability of a unit.
How may a landlord obtain information about the suitability of an applicant? Prior to leasing the unit, the Housing Authority provides landlords with the name and address of the family’s current and prior landlords. Landlords are encouraged to conduct landlord-reference checks and to visit the family’s current residence. Landlords may also wish to contact utility companies and other creditors. Landlords are encouraged to screen families with regard to: 1) payment of rent and utility bills; 2) caring for a unit; and 3) respecting the rights of others to peaceful enjoyment of their housing.
Are there any restrictions in the selection of a family? Yes, owners (including a principal or other interested party) may not rent to a relative, which includes the parent, child, grandparent, grandchild, sister, or brother of any member of the family, unless the Housing Authority has determined (and has notified the owner and the family of such determination) that approving rental of the unit, notwithstanding such relationship, would provide reasonable accommodation for a family member who is a person with disabilities.
What is the term of the assisted tenancy? The term of the assisted tenancy is based on the beginning date of the HAP Contract, which begins when the dwelling passes the inspection and the lease is executed. The initial term of the lease must be for at least one year and must provide for automatic renewal for successive terms (e.g., month-to-month or year-to-year).
May a landlord use a private-market lease? Yes, because the Housing Authority does not provide the lease. The lease must contain terms consistent with federal and state requirements. A “Model” lease may be obtained by contacting the Hagerstown Home Store at 301-797-0900.
May a landlord collect a full security deposit? Yes. Landlords may collect a deposit not to exceed amounts charged to unassisted families and in accordance with Maryland State Law.
How may the lease terminate? After the initial term, the owner and family may terminate without cause. During the initial term the lease may be terminated on grounds of serious and repeated lease violations.
What are the major responsibilities of participating families? 1) comply with the lease and the Family Obligations as specified by HUD regulations; 2) maintain the unit; 3) pay rent portion and utilities when due; 4) report changes in income and family size within 14 days to the Housing Authority; 5) not engage in drug or criminal activity; 6) not allow unauthorized persons to live in the unit.
What are the major responsibilities of the Housing Authority? 1) determine family eligibility and who may live in the unit; 2) approve unit rent to owner and determine subsidy and family portion; 3) make subsidy payment to the landlord each month; 4) conduct required inspections and family certifications; and 5) determine whether to terminate assistance to a participant family for violation of family obligations.
What are the major responsibilities of the landlord? 1) screen the family for suitability; 2) collect the security deposit and rent portion from the family; 3) maintain the unit and provide utilities, appliances, and services as specified in lease; 4) notify the Housing Authority of any known condition that would affect the amount of subsidy.
How is the rental subsidy amount determined? The subsidy for most families is the difference between 30 percent of the family’s adjusted monthly income and a “payment standard” that is based on the HUD-published Fair Market Rents (FMRs). If the rent is more than the payment standard, the family pays a larger share. A family may not pay more than 40% of their adjusted monthly income for rent when the family first receives Section 8 assistance, or when a family moves to a new unit.
No cap exists on the rent. However the unit rent, plus any utility allowance for family-paid utilities, must be reasonable in relation to comparable units on the local rental housing market. The following are HUD-published Fair Market Rents and Housing Authority Payment Standards for the local housing market:
0 BR-$554 1 BR-$678 2 BR-$898 3 BR-$1224 4 BR-$1502 5 BR-$1727
Fair Market Rents Effective 12/11/15
0 BR-$600 1 BR-$728 2 BR-$943 3 BR-$1305 4 BR-$1352 5 BR-$1554
Payment Standards Effective 3/1/16
Rents may be increased at any time after the initial term of the lease. Landlords must give a 60-day notice to the family and to the Housing Authority. Generally, families pay for any increase.
For further information, interested parties may call or visit the Hagerstown Housing Authority office at:
Hagerstown Housing Authority
35 West Baltimore Street
Hagerstown, MD 21740