Prospective Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) Landlords
Welcome to the Delaware State Housing Authority (DSHA) Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) Landlord Page. Below is a listing of the most frequently asked questions. There is also a page of documents and reference materials that may be used during the leasing of HCV unit. A comprehensive landlord packet is also available by contacting the Housing Choice Voucher office at (302) 739-7419.
- What is a Housing Choice Voucher (HCV)?
- How does the Housing Choice Program Work?
- What is the Moving To Work Program?
- What type of items does DSHA look for during a Housing Quality Standards (HQS) Inspection?
- How often will the leased unit be inspected by DSHA?
- What happens if there are required repairs noted during the annual inspections?
- Rent Determination
- How does DSHA determine the contract rent amount for a HCV unit?
- Can I request rent increases?
- What are Utility Allowances and how do they affect the amount of rent I can request for a unit?
- Resident Selection
- Leasing the Unit
- What security deposit amount can I charge?
- What are my responsibilities as a HCV landlord?
- What legal rights do I have enforcing lease terms with a HCV participant?
- How long is a HCV lease period?
- How do I receive rental payments for the unit?
- How do I get HCV participants referred to my units?
- Landlord Documents
Frequently Asked Questions
- What is a Housing Choice Voucher (HCV)? A Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) is a form of tenant-based housing assistance for low-income families provided by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). DSHA administers the HCV program for Kent and Sussex Counties in Delaware. Eligible families that receive a HCV can use the voucher anywhere in Kent and Sussex Counties to lease privately-owned rental units. The amount of housing assistance provided for eligible families is based on their family size and income.
- How does the Housing Choice Program Work? Once an eligible family receives a HCV, they can look anywhere in Kent and Sussex Counties for privately owned rental units. Once they find a unit, the prospective landlord and family will complete and submit a Request for Tenancy Approval (RFTA) form to DSHA. The RFTA will be reviewed to determine if the unit falls within the approved Payment Standard for affordability and an appointment will be scheduled to conduct the Housing Quality Standards inspection. If the unit is approved, leases and contracts will be signed. Monthly Housing Assistance Payments (HAPS) will be provided to the landlord through direct deposit.
- What is the Moving To Work Program? All families that receive a Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) must participate in DSHA's Moving To Work (MTW) Program. Elderly and/or disabled families are exempt from the MTW program. Families that participate in the MTW program must work a specified number of hours per week or have a combination of work and education hours to remain eligible for housing assistance. The program limits housing assistance for MTW families to seven (7) years and provides incentives, counseling and educational activities to help them achieve self-sufficiency. During the first five (5) years of the seven (7) year period, as their earnings increase, the amount of rent they pay is capped and goes into an escrow account that they can access if the MTW program is successfully completed. Many past MTW participants have used this escrow account to rent unsubsidized housing or enter into homeownership.
- What type of items does DSHA look for during a Housing Quality Standards (HQS) Inspection? Under HUD requirements, a rental unit must meet certain HQS requirements to be considered safe, sanitary, and decent housing. During a HQS inspection, the DSHA representative will review the unit to confirm that the heating/cooling systems and kitchen appliances (if supplied) are in proper working order, that doors and windows are in good condition and lock, that there are no safety hazards (plumbing, electrical, ventilation), that there is no peeling paint, that walls, ceilings and flooring are in good condition, and bathroom facilities are present, private and in good condition. Two (2) brochures, "A Good Place To Live" and "Housing Quality Standards" are included in the Landlord Documents section for more on the HQS inspection.
- How often will the leased unit be inspected by DSHA? The unit will be inspected annually, normally 120 days prior to the original lease anniversary date. Also, DSHA may conduct special inspections at the request of the landlord and/or resident. Both the landlord and resident are notified ahead of time of any scheduled inspection.
- What happens if there are required repairs noted during the annual inspections? If during the annual HQS inspection any deficiencies are found, the landlord will be notified and given thirty (30) days to make necessary repairs. A re-inspection will be scheduled at the end of the thirty (30) day period to confirm that all repairs are complete. If the landlord anticipates a delay in making repairs past the thirty (30) day period, due to weather, materials on order, or contractor delays, they can request an extension. Requests for an extension must be in writing and received at least two (2) weeks before the re-inspection date. Extension requests are reviewed on a case-by-case basis. A list of the most common inspection discrepancies is included in the Landlord Documents section.
- Rent Determination
- How does DSHA determine the contract rent amount for a HCV unit? The total amount of rent DSHA can approve for a unit, which is called a Payment Standard, is based on the Fair Market Rents (FMR) published by HUD for Kent and Sussex Counties every year. The amount of contract rent and applicable utility allowance for the unit (based on the utilities the resident would pay) cannot exceed the Payment Standard.
- Can I request rent increases? Owners can request rent increases each year as long as the request is received in writing by DSHA at least sixty (60) days before the lease renewal date. DSHA will send out a rent increase reminder notice approximately 90 to 120 days before the lease expires. Rent increase requests are reviewed by DSHA to determine if the request is reasonable and meets HUD requirements. If the full amount of the request cannot be approved, you will be contacted by DSHA to see if a different amount can be negotiated.
- What are Utility Allowances and how do they affect the amount of rent I can request for a unit? All utilities that a resident would be required to pay (electric, oil, natural gas, propane, water/sewer, etc.) must be included in the calculation of housing assistance for a family and in determining if a unit is within the applicable Payment Standard. The amount of contract rent requested for a unit and utility allowance are added together and cannot exceed the Payment Standard for the applicable bedroom size of the voucher.
- Resident Selection
- Do I have the ability to screen HCV participants that want to rent my unit? Prior to receiving a HCV, participants are screened for criminal background to determine if they have been convicted of violent or drug related crimes. All other screening is left to the prospective landlord as you would do for any non-assisted resident. Since HUD regulations only allows DSHA to screen for criminal history, landlords are encouraged to develop their own tenant selection criteria. This can include credit history, personal references, home visits and previous rental history. Please remember, all screening must be done in accordance with Federal Fair Housing requirements and evenly applied to all potential residents. Screening suggestions and forms are included in the Landlord Documents section.
- Leasing the Unit
- What security deposit amount can I charge? Landlords can charge up to one (1) months rent for a security deposit. You can also charge a pet deposit if the resident has a cat or dog. DSHA does not provide residents assistance paying security deposits.
- What are my responsibilities as a HCV landlord? As a HCV landlord, your responsibilities are to keep the rental unit in proper repair, provide services and utilities noted under the lease, respond to maintenance requests from the resident and notify DSHA of any changes in ownership. The Housing Assistance Payments Agreement (see Landlord Documents section) fully outlines your responsibilities.
- What legal rights do I have enforcing lease terms with a HCV participant? As with any other tenant, a HCV landlord would utilize and follow the Delaware Landlord-Tenant Code in dealing with any lease violation. This includes the non-payment of the participant's portion of rent and other material violations to the lease such as damages above and beyond normal wear and tear, unauthorized guests, not maintaining utilities and other lease related issues. As always, DSHA is interested in any issues that may occur between the landlord and resident. If the landlord takes legal action against a HCV resident, we request that copies of the notices be sent to DSHA for our records. When DSHA receives a notice, we will send a follow-up letter to the resident advising them to correct the problem. We also remind the resident that they may lose their housing assistance if they are evicted for a lease violation. A copy of the Section 8 Tenant-Based-Rental Voucher Program lease is included in the Landlord Documents section.
- How long is a HCV lease period? The initial lease period is for one (1) year. After the initial year, the lease continues on a month-to-month term. During the first year, the lease cannot be terminated by the resident without the landlord's written consent, or under special circumstances approved by DSHA. After the initial year, the lease can be terminated by either party with proper sixty (60) days written notice.
- How do I receive rental payments for the unit? All Housing Assistance Payments are directly deposited in the bank of HCV landlords. For landlords that are new to the HCV program, the initial housing assistance payment may be made via a check, with all subsequent payments directly deposited into their bank.
- How do I get HCV participants referred to my units? The Delaware State Housing Authority uses www.delawarehousingsearch.org to refer all Housing Choice Voucher participants to your units. www.delawarehousingsearch.org is a completely free service funded by Delaware State Housing Authority and powered by socialserve.com. The service is supported by a toll-free, bilingual call center available to assist you with listing your available units and helping voucher participants locate available units. The toll-free call center is available Monday – Friday, 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. EST at 877-428-8844. Call or go online to www.delawarehousingsearch.org to get list any rental properties.
For example, the two (2) bedroom Payment Standard in Kent County is $883.00. If a landlord is requesting $600.00 for a two (2) bedroom, and tenant paid utilities are estimated to be $200.00 per month, the total of rent and utilities would be $800.00. In this case, since the rent requested and cost of utilities is less than the Payment Standard, the unit would be eligible for the HCV program (as long as it passes the HQS inspection).
If all utilities are included in the rent requested by the landlord, the contract rent amount can be approved up to the applicable Payment Standard without any deduction for utilities. In this case, the landlord cannot request the participant to pay for any utilities anytime during the lease period.
For example, the two (2) bedroom Payment Standard in Kent County is $883.00. If a landlord includes all utilities in the contract rent, DSHA would be able to approve a rent amount up to the Payment Standard, which is $883.00. But, the landlord could not have the tenant pay any additional funds for utilities, even if there is an increase in energy or water/sewer costs.
DSHA annually prepares and updates Utility Allowance charts that show the applicable utility allowance for each tenant-provided utility, based on usage and average costs for Kent and Sussex Counties. DSHA contacts all area energy providers and municipalities to closely determine the applicable utility costs for each type of rental unit (apartment, mobile home, single family home, townhouse) based on the bedroom size and type of resident-supplied utilities. A copy of the most recent Utility Allowance Survey results are available at the Housing Choice Voucher Management office (302) 739-7419.
- Landlord Information Brochure
- Housing Quality Standards (HQS) Brochure
- A Good Place to Live! Brochure
- Inspection Tips for the Housing Choice Vouchers
- Tenant Screening Suggestions
- Landlord Reference Report Form
- Home Visit Report Form
- Request for Criminal History Check Form
- Request for Tenancy Approval
- Housing Assistance Payments Contract
- Section 8 Tenant-Based Assistance - Rental Voucher Program Lease