Frequently Asked Questions for Landlords
- About My Lease
- Becoming a Housing Choice Voucher Landlord
- Collecting Rent
- Current Housing Choice Voucher Landlords
- Inspections Issues
I would like to check the status of my application, both for Public Housing and Section 8.
(Where am I on the waitlist?)
a. The best way to check your status for either waitlist is to go on line. You can sign in to check the status of your application and make any updates needed to keep your contact information current.
b. The web site for Section 8 is: www.gosection8.com
Please note: GoSection8.com is a state-wide wait list that is not managed by Hingham Housing. Applicants are drawn from the list by any one of the 100 participating housing authorities. If you have questions or technical issues with the GoSection8.com website please call 1-866-466-7328.
c. The web site for state public housing is: https://publichousingapplication.ocd.state.ma.us/
What is the difference between Public Housing and Section 8?
Public Housing is a subsidized unit managed by HHA, Section 8 is voucher subsidy program that allows the voucher holder to move outside of Hingham.
What do I do if I want to move with my Section 8 voucher?
You will need to mutually terminate your lease with your current landlord. Start by talking with them. Then contact your Leasing Officer.
How long does it take after returning my RTA packet for Section 8?
It can take 30 days or more depending on the cooperation of both the prospective landlord and the tenant. Click here for the Leased Housing move process. (For Landlords)
What is the process of adding/removing someone to/from my lease, for both Section 8 and Public Housing?
For Section 8, speak with your Leasing Officer. There is a form and a process for adding/removing family members.
How do I apply for both Public Housing and Section 8?
a. For state public housing, you can apply on the state wide Waiting list CHAMP, https://publichousingapplication.ocd.state.ma.us/.
b. For Section 8 you can apply on the centralized wait list www.gosection8.com and/or
c. Come to the office and pick up any paper application
d. Call 781-741-1417 to have one mailed to you
How do I ask for a rent increase?
A Section 8 landlord can request an increase once every 12 months; they should submit the Landlord Rent Increase package which can be found on our website here.
The request should be submitted at least 90 days before the effective date of the increase. The landlord MUST also notify the tenant of the increase. HHA will notify the landlord if the rent increase is approved or denied.
How do I report a change of income? What does my Leasing Officers/occupancy specialist need from me?
You are required to report all changes in income within 30 days of the change. Your Leasing Officer will need 3rd party documentation of the income change. Either a letter of termination if job has been lost, or recent pay stubs or other income documentation if income has gone up or down. If you are paid weekly, that is four pay stubs. If paid bi-weekly, that’s two pay stubs. If paid monthly, we will need your NEXT monthly pay stub showing the change in income.
How do I schedule an appointment with my occupancy specialist/caseworker?
Contact the office at 781-741-1417
What are the payment standards for one, two, three, four, five, and six-bedroom apartments?
Payment Standards for Hingham can be found on our website here.
I faxed some documents over to Public Housing/Section 8 Housing. To whom do I speak to check if these documents reached the appropriate housing department?
Contact the office at 781-741-1417
How do I sign up for electronic banking for landlord deposits or for tenant rent payments?
For Section 8 Landlords, the direct deposit form is on the website, click here to access.
How do I get a copy of my rent breakdown for Public Housing/Section 8?
The Rent Share Letter can be obtained from the Leasing Officer.
Frequently Asked Questions for Landlords
About My LeaseBack to the top
What is the Lease?
The Lease is the agreement between the owner and the tenant. This is different than the Housing Choice Voucher.
Can I use my own Lease?
HHA must review all leases before they can be used in place of a HHA lease. A copy of your lease must be submitted with the RTA for approval.
Who prepares the Lease and Contract?
Once the unit passes inspection, the tenant will contact their HHA Leasing Officer to make an appointment to sign the Lease and Contract. The tenant usually brings the Lease and Contract to the owner for signatures and returns them to the Leasing Officer. The owner and tenant should coordinate how the documents will get completed.
Who determines the effective date?
The effective date of the Lease and Contract will depend on a number of factors, the inspection approval date, when the tenant is able to meet with the Leasing Officer, and if the Leasing Officer has all the necessary paperwork from the tenant and owner. The Leasing Officer will make the final determination on the effective date.
Who signs the Lease and Contract?
Both the owner and the tenant sign the Lease and Contract. The Contract will also be signed by a HHA administrator.
What other information will I need to submit with the Lease?
In addition to the Lease, the owner will need to fill out a Request for Tenancy Approval (RTA) packet. This form provides all the information HHA will need to process the request. The owner will also have to provide a copy of a registered deed as proof of ownership. If the deed is over 10 years old, a copy of the most current property tax bill will be required.
How long are the Lease and Contract valid?
The Lease and Contract are valid for 12 months. Once they have expired, the tenant becomes a tenant at will. A new Lease and Contract does not have to be signed every year.
Can I collect first and last month’s rent as well as a security deposit?
Upon signing the Lease, you can collect (from your tenant) the tenant’s share of first month rent and a security deposit. The security deposit must be less than or equal to one month’s approved contract rent (HHA subsidy plus tenant’s share). Last month’s rent cannot be collected. HHA does not provide security deposits on behalf of the voucher holder.
What is the Contract?
The Contract is the agreement between the owner and HHA which outlines the rules of the Housing Choice Voucher program.
Becoming a Housing Choice Voucher LandlordBack to the top
How do I become a landlord?
You must rent an apartment to a tenant that has been issued a valid Housing Choice Program Voucher.
How do I advertise my apartment as being for rent?
You can advertise in the same way you would for a regular market tenant, through the newspaper, Internet, or other platforms.
Can I start a lease in the middle of the month?
Most moves occur at the first of the month. However, if circumstances warrant a mid-month move may be permitted.
What utilities can the tenant be responsible for paying?
The tenant can be responsible for paying any utilities that are metered only for the unit the tenant will occupy. Any utility costs for common areas or other units on the property must be paid by the owner.
Can the tenant pay for water and sewer?
Yes, under very specific circumstances: if low flow water fixtures are installed, there is a written rental agreement, the previous tenant was not forced out of the unit, a licensed plumber has installed a sub-meter for only that unit and the landlord has filed a certification form with the local board of health or inspectional service department. Please refer to the Massachusetts Law regarding submetering by clicking here.
I have screened a tenant who holds a valid Housing Choice Voucher, what is my next step?
The next step is to complete a Request for Tenancy Approval Form (RTA) and have the unit inspected.
If I had Voucher holders in my apartment before, am I still in the program?
The Voucher program is a tenant-based subsidy that means the subsidy moves with the tenant. Once a Voucher program tenant moves out of your apartment, your participation with the program will be terminated. To continue your participation in the Voucher program you will need to screen and rent to another tenant that has been issued a valid Voucher.
What will the inspection process be like?
For all questions about the inspection process, please see Inspection FAQs for Landlords located further down on this page.
Collecting RentBack to the top
How do I request a rent increase?
The owner must give the tenant a written 90-day notice of the intent to raise the rent. A copy of this notice must be forwarded to the tenant’s Leasing Officer. The Leasing Officer will forward the request for a rent increase to the Market and Financial Specialist for review. Rent increase request can only be made once in a 12 month period.
When can I expect to receive the subsidy each month?
The HHA portion of the rent, called the “subsidy,” is paid via Direct Deposit to your checking account. Payments are scheduled for the first business day of each month. If the first calendar day of a month is a Saturday, Sunday or Holiday payment will be effective the next business day.
How do I receive my subsidy payment?
The HHA portion of the rent or subsidy is directly deposited in to the bank account provided on the direct deposit form you completed prior to submitting the Request for Tenancy Approval (RTA) package
Can I change the bank and account for direct deposit?
Yes. The direct deposit form can be found here. It can be mailed, faxed or hand delivered to HHA.
When do I get notified of the rent approved for the apartment?
The Leasing Officer completes an Agency Determination Form or calls the owner with the rent once they have received the Rent Approval Form.
What are Fair Market Rents?
Fair Market Rents (FMR) are calculated and published annually by HUD. FMRs are used to establish the Payment Standards for that housing authority’s voucher program. FMRs are not an indication or guarantee of the rent that will be approved for a unit.
What are the Payment Standards?
Payment Standards are used to determine the subsidy amount (paid by HHA) and the tenant’s portion of the monthly contract rent. Payment Standards are not an indication or guarantee of the rent that will be approved for a unit.
I’m not happy with the rent and want a second opinion; can I still sign a Lease and Contract?
The rent negotiation must be completed before a Lease and Contract can be signed. Once a Lease and Contract are signed, it is effective for 12 months. No changes can be made within those first 12 months. The Inspection Approval and Case Submission Deadlines are important factors to keep in mind regarding the negotiation of rent and the signing of the Lease and Contract.
What if I want to change who is responsible for paying utilities and/or change the rent requested?
Any changes to the information from the original information on the RTA must be requested in writing. If the change is from the owner paying all utilities to the tenant paying utilities, another inspection of the unit might be needed to verify individual meters on the utilities. All utilities must be individually metered for the tenant to be responsible for paying that utility. A rent increase request and shifting of utility payment to the tenant can not occur within the same 12 month period.
Can the tenant pay the difference between what the Market and Financial Specialist approved and the rent I requested?
The tenant’s participation in the program does not allow the tenant to pay more than 40% of their adjusted gross income toward rent and utilities. The owner must accept the rent approved as the full rent for one month. The rent approved includes the tenant share of the rent and subsidy. It is a violation of the program by both the landlord and the tenant for the tenant to pay more than their share indicated by their Leasing Officer.
Will I be able to raise the initial rent amount?
No changes can be made in the Lease and Contract within the first 12 months. After 12 months, the owner may request a rent increase.
When is a rent determined for my unit?
The rent for a unit is determined after the review of the RTA package.
When do I get notified of the rent approved for the apartment?
The Leasing Officer calls the owner with the rent once they have received the Rent Approval Form.
What happens if the tenant is still living in the apartment after the Contract has been terminated?
If the tenant is still living in the unit after the Contract has been terminated, the tenant is responsible for paying the owner the full rent amount.
Current Housing Choice Voucher LandlordsBack to the top
What if I move?
Please notify HHA as soon as possible so that all records are updated. Notices and correspondence will not be forwarded by the Post Office.
What if I sell my property?
The new owner should be made aware that the tenants are Voucher holders. All information regarding any pending inspections, the name of the Leasing Officer, Lead Paint Compliance information, copies of the lease and contract should be given to the new owner.
HHA also requires evidence of transfer of ownership before we can begin to pay the new landlord subsidy. If documentation is not submitted on a timely basis HHA will hold subsidy payment until all documentation has been submitted. The new owner will not be paid until all evidence of transfer of ownership has been received.
Do I need to sign a lease and contract every year?
The lease and contract are effective for 12 months. Once they have expired, the tenant becomes a tenant at will. A new lease and contract do not have to be signed every year.
Will the tenant’s share of rent and subsidy change after the lease and contract have expired?
The total contract rent for the unit will not change after the first year, unless the owner requests a rent increase. The program guidelines require that the Leasing Officer recertify the tenant every year. This annual recertification requires that the tenant provide documentation regarding income. After recertification, the Leasing Officer will notify the tenant and the owner of any changes in the tenant share and/or subsidy. Even if the tenant share or subsidy portion changes, the total contract rent will remain the same.
I have been paying all/some of the utilities and I would now like the tenant to pay all/some of the utilities.
After the initial 12 months have expired, the owner must notify the tenant in writing with a copy to the tenant’s Leasing Officer of the change in utility responsibility. An inspection of the unit might need to be conducted to determine that the utilities are individually metered. Individually metered means that only the tenant’s unit is connected to the specific utility. The tenant cannot pay a utility shared by another unit or common area. If the utilities are not individually metered, the owner must remain responsible for payment of those utilities.
There are people living in the unit who are not on the lease. What can be done?
This may or may not be a violation of the Leased Housing Program and/or Lease terms. The Leasing Officer should be notified in writing of any person(s) using the unit as a primary residence that are not listed on the lease. The property owner has the same responsibility to enforce the lease with subsidized tenants as they do with non-subsidized tenants.
I have been notified by the police of criminal activity in the unit.
This may or may not be a violation of the Leased Housing Program and/or the Lease terms. The Leasing Officer should be notified in writing and sent copies of any police reports regarding any criminal activity in the unit. The property owner has the same responsibility to enforce the lease with subsidized tenants as they do with non-subsidized tenants.
How do I terminate my participation in the program?
No longer renting the unit to a Housing Choice Voucher holder will terminate your participation in the program.
Inspections IssuesBack to the top
Who schedules the inspection of the vacant unit?
Once a tenant has returned a completed RTA to the Leasing Officer it will take several business days for HHA to schedule an inspection. The HHA Inspector will contact the landlord directly to schedule the inspection. The unit is usually scheduled on the next available day unless more time is needed to complete repairs or have the unit vacant.
Do I need a Lead Paint Compliance letter?
Any unit where a child under 6 will reside must submit a Lead Paint Compliance letter or a Building Permit/proof of construction to show the property was built after 1978. If the tenant has a child while occupying the unit, HHA will require a Lead Paint Compliance letter in order to continue paying the subsidy.
Does the HHA test for Lead?
The HHA Inspector does not test for lead; please check the local yellow pages for a licensed lead paint testing company in your area.
I just purchased the property/cannot locate a Lead Paint Compliance letter. What should I do?
Any unit where a child under 6 will reside must submit either a Lead Paint Compliance letter or a Building Permit/proof of construction to show the property was built after 1978. If an owner is unable to provide the compliance letter or proof of construction after 1978, the unit will not pass inspection. To obtain a Lead Paint Compliance letter the unit must be tested by a licensed lead paint inspection company. A copy can be obtained from the previous owner/company that completed the lead testing. You can access a registry of lead letters by address.
I submitted a Lead Paint Compliance letter for a previous tenant. Do I need to submit another?
The HHA is not obligated to retain copies of Lead Paint Compliance Letters. To facilitate an inspection please keep clear copies of Lead Paint Compliance letters to submit to the Inspector.
Does the unit have to be empty for the inspection?
The unit must be vacant for the initial inspection. Special Inspections and Annual/Biennial Inspections can be completed in occupied units.
What will the inspector look for during an inspection?
The Inspector will conduct a complete inspection of the property including all common areas, basement and exterior. The Inspector will also determine if the square footage of the unit meets the needs of the tenant. The Inspector will also note the use and occupancy of the property. All inspections are based on Article 2 of the Massachusetts State Sanitary Code as well as the Housing Quality Standards published by the Department of Housing and Urban Development. All code violations need to be corrected, lead paint compliance letter and occupancy information, if applicable, submitted before the unit can pass inspection.
How will I know when the inspector will be at my apartment?
When scheduling the inspection, you can select a morning or afternoon timeframe. The morning time frame is between 9:30 AM and 12 PM. The afternoon timeframe is between 12and 4:30 PM. The name of the Inspector and their cell phone number will be provided by phone once the inspection is scheduled. The inspector can be called the morning of the inspections and should be able to give an approximate time they will be at the property.
Does someone need to be home for the inspection?
Yes, for the Initial Inspection the landlord, property manager or their representative must be present. For Special Inspection or Annual/Biennial Inspections either the landlord or 18+ year old tenant must be present for the inspector.
How will I know if the apartment has passed inspection?
The Inspector will give a copy of the inspection report to the owner at the time of the inspection. The owner is required to be at the initial inspection and encouraged to be at all other inspections.
How long do I have to correct the code violations for an initial inspection?
Because the unit is not under a lease or contract the owner does not have a timeframe to complete the repairs. The owner should be mindful of the Inspection Approval Deadline, and will not be able to rent the unit to the Voucher holder beyond this deadline.
What if I decide not to repair the code violations?
If the unit is not under a lease or contract, the owner does not have to complete repairs or the code violations. If the code violations are not corrected, though, the unit will not pass inspection and cannot participate in the program. If your apartment does not pass inspection and you choose not to make the repairs, notify the tenant, the tenant’s Leasing Officer and the Inspection Department so the voucher holder can resume his or her housing search.
If the unit is under lease or contract, the owner has thirty (30) days to complete repairs of the code violations. Failure to complete required repairs within that time frame may result in non-payment of subsidy and withholding of the tenant’s portion of the rent.
How many times a year is the unit inspected?
The unit will be inspected once every 12 months; however it may take more than one inspection for the unit to pass.
Why did the inspector only give me 24 hours to fix this issue?
The Landlord will only receive a 24 hour time frame to fix things that are considered critical if the issue creates an immediate life threatening circumstance. For example, the fire alarm not working or there being no heat in winter. These items must be fixed immediately.
Why are my subsidy payments being stopped due to code violations?
HUD regulations require that a re-inspection of the unit be performed 30 days after the code violations have been sited. If all of the cited code violations are not corrected by the re-inspection date, the unit may be placed on “Hold”.
Will I get the money that was withheld while the unit was on “Hold”?
No. Once the violations have been corrected and the “Hold” is lifted, regular subsidy payments will resume. The subsidy payments from HHA that were not paid during the “Hold” will not automatically be paid retroactively.
The inspector cited code violations during the annual inspection but the tenant won’t let me in the unit to do repairs.
HHA suggests that owners experiencing difficulties gaining access to their property to make necessary repairs seek legal counsel to resolve the matter. Please provide HHA with copies of any legal or court documents on this matter.
Should the tenant pay to have the problems fixed?
As the owner of the property you are responsible for the repairs to your property. If you feel that the code violations are tenant caused the money for the repairs can be deducted from the security deposit collected prior to the occupancy of the unit.
Does the HHA pay for tenant caused damages?
HHA does not pay for any damages caused by the tenant to the unit. Those costs should be deducted from the security paid by the tenant.
The tenant has been living in the unit and now I’m being asked to provide a lead letter?
The Inspection Department has been notified by the tenant’s Leasing Officer that there may now be a child under 6 residing in the unit. Failure to provide this information will result in the termination of the contract.
Why was my Lead Paint Compliant Letter rejected?
Each Lead Paint Compliance letter is reviewed by the Inspector for consistency. If the Lead Paint Compliance Letter is rejected, the owner will be told of the reason for the rejection. Another Lead Paint Compliance Letter with the noted correction will need to be submitted before the unit can pass inspection. Being unable to read a Lead Paint Compliance Letter is a common reason a letter is rejected.
If my tenant is in the process of moving, do I still need to have an annual inspection?
As long as the tenant is still physically in the unit, access will need to be provided for the annual inspection.
Do I need to be available for the annual inspection?
A letter notifying the owner of the annual inspection is sent to the owner as a courtesy; the owner is not required to be there or provide access, but attendance is encouraged. Under the terms of the program, the tenant has two responsibilities each year — one is to be recertified and the other is to allow access to the unit for the annual inspection.
OthersBack to the top
What can HHA do to help move the tenant to another apartment?
The tenant’s Leasing Officer should issue the tenant a Housing Choice Voucher to relocate. If the relocation is occurring before the initial 12 month lease has expired, the Landlord/owner/agent will be asked to complete a mutual termination agreement.
If I want my apartments to go smoke free, what resources are there available?
The HHA has no restrictions regarding “smoke free units”. HHA’s Public Housing Units are all smoke-free. Many resources are available at Hingham Public Health Commission (or the Health Commission for your community), Massachusetts Department of Public Health, and Manet Community Health Centers to help landlord transit the apartments to smoke free. Click here for more information