At the time a voucher is issued, every Section 8/Leased Housing voucher holder is assigned a Leasing Officer with the Hingham Housing Authority (HHA). The Leasing Officer assists participants with recertification questions about moving and the requirements of the program.
Understanding My Lease
When you rent an apartment, you and your landlord will sign a lease agreement. This lease agreement details your rights and responsibilities, as well as those of your landlord. As a tenant, some of your basic responsibilities are:
- Paying your portion of the rent on time
- Paying for all utility costs if not provided by your landlord under the lease agreement
- Keeping the property clean and free of clutter
- Notifying the landlord as soon as possible of any damage or repairs needed
- Making sure that only the individuals that are on the lease are living in the rental unit.
- Making sure that no illegal activities are occurring in the unit, or that the unit is not used for any purpose other than residential.
- Allowing access to the owner into the home or property for any necessary repairs
- Allowing access into your home or property for the annual inspection
- Participating your annual rent certification
What will my rent be?
Families and individuals residing under any of the HUD funded Leased Housing Voucher Programs have their rent share amounts set using a standard calculation.
A family typically pays no less than 30% or no more than 40% of their income for housing. Contract rent is established using the current payment standard and the cost of rent and utilities for a unit by bedroom size and geographic location. If the unit rents for less than the payment standard, the household will still pay 30% of its monthly adjusted income.
Your family may rent a unit with more bedrooms than the number on your voucher, but the payment standard amount is based on the unit size for which your family is eligible. You cannot pay the difference yourself.
Your family may also rent a unit with fewer bedrooms than shown on your housing voucher – but must meet certain state and federal laws. For example, there can be no more than two people per living/sleeping room. The maximum rent HHA will pay for the smaller unit is the payment standard for that size unit and location.
There are different payment standards for each city or town – Check the HHA web site for the list of each city or town before you provide a deposit.
If the utilities are not included in the rent, you will have to pay for the utilities yourself. This does not mean that you will be paying more of your monthly income toward housing costs because the unit you choose should have a lower rent if the utilities are not included.
If utilities are included in your rent, you will not have to pay any separate utility companies. The amount subsidized is based off the utility allowance chart for that city or town. You will pay your landlord your portion of the rent.
If utilities are not included in your rent, you are responsible to pay the utility bills directly to the utility company or companies. It is important to plan accordingly and budget to make these payments on time! Even if utilities aren’t included in your rent, the utility costs are considered when calculating your rent and rent share. Amenities such as cable/satellite television, subscription entertainment services, internet service and cell phones are not considered utilities and are fully paid by the tenant.
Landlord Request for Rent Increase
Your landlord may request a rent increase after you have been in your unit one year. If the rent request is made, your landlord is required to give you and HHA a 60-day notice. HHA will determine if the rent increase amount is reasonable. If HHA approves the request, your Leasing Officer will contact you to discuss what this means for you and how much more you will pay in rent.
Every year, HHA is required to ask tenants in Leased Housing programs to submit income verification and update household information (i.e. family composition) to determine if you are still eligible for the program. Tenants must provide this information to remain in the program. If your income and/or family composition changes at any time during the year, you must report the change to your Leasing Officer immediately. Changes made throughout the year are called Interim Recertification’s. These changes could have an impact on how much you pay for your rent.
Change of Income or Family Composition
As a Leased Housing participant you are obligated to report any change of income, assets, or family composition size within 30 days. Please notify your Leasing Officer and complete the Interim Adjustment Package along with all supporting documentation.
If you would like to move, you will need to give your landlord reasonable notice. If you have been in the unit less than a year, your lease is still in effect. A lease is a binding agreement and you need the landlord’s permission to break the lease. Contact your Leasing Officer for a Mutual Termination Agreement.
Once both parties have agreed to terminate the lease; the tenant may start looking for a unit. Once a unit is located, a Request for Tenancy Approval (RTA) package should be provided to the prospective landlord, completed and returned to HHA. Please view the RTA Requirements for Participants to ensure you have submitted all required documentation.
HHA will conduct a rent reasonable review. There will also need to be an inspection of the unit to be sure it meets all Safety and Sanitary codes which is outlined in the RTA Requirements for Participants document.
Moving from Massachusetts to another State
You may use your Housing Choice Voucher anywhere in the United States, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands with an agency in that location offering a Housing Choice Voucher Program.
If you choose to use your voucher in a location outside HHA’s Eastern Massachusetts service area, you are responsible to find a Housing Authority to administer your voucher. Once you determine where you would like to live and you have found a Housing Authority to administer your voucher, you need to make a request to your HHA Leasing Officer to send a copy of your file to that Housing Authority.
It is your responsibility to provide HHA with the name, address, fax number and contact person at the Housing Authority you will be working with. HHA will send your files to the Housing Authority and provide any additional information requested.
Going forward you will work with that Housing Authority on things like annual recertification and inspections.
Termination of Participation in the Leased Housing Program
If a family or an individual in the family fails to meet the family obligations, or violates any policy or regulation they can be terminated from the program. When you join the program and annually at each recertification all adult family members will be asked to the sign the Statement of Family Obligation and Grounds for Termination outlining the family’s responsibilities while participating in the program.
If you are terminated from the program you have the right to file a grievance and to a hearing. That process is outlined in the Grievance section.