Q. Is the owner required to participate
in the rent assistance program?
A. An owner has the same right of tenant selection with regard to rent assistance program participants as other applicants. State and Federal laws prohibit housing discrimination based on race, color, creed, religion, sex, national origin, reliance on public assistance, marital status, familial status or disability.
Q. What is the process if an owner has a
rental unit he/she wishes to rent to a rent an
assistance program participant?
A. Unit availability information will be made available to program participants looking for housing through HousingLink. To list a vacancy, contact HousingLink at (612) 522-2500
Q. Are there limits on rents?
A. Rent limits are generally determined individually for each household based on three factors. The first factor is the payment standard amount, which is set by bedroom size. The second factor is household income. Generally, the higher the household income, the higher the approvable rent.
The payment standards are determined to include modestly priced rental units. Not all units are affordable for the program participants. The third factor is that the rent must be determined reasonable by the HRA.
Q. Are tenant-paid utility charges taken into consideration?
A. An estimate for tenant-paid utilities (excluding telephone and air conditioning) is calculated by the HRA using average consumption data by bedroom size, structure type, energy source, and current utility rate information. This data is updated annually. The monthly rent plus this estimate equal the gross monthly rent for the unit.
Q. How and when does the owner notify the HRA of a rent change?
A. Following the initial term of the lease, the owner may adjust the rent by providing the HRA with 60-day written notice of the change. In some instances the HRA’s ability to approve rent increases is limited as a result of budget restraints or funding availability.
Q. Is the unit inspected by the HRA? What is the purpose of the inspection?
A. Yes. A unit must be inspected by the HRA or its Contract Inspector initially to ensure the unit meets Federal Housing Quality Standards (HQS). The Housing Quality Standards were developed to ensure that housing assisted through the Program is “decent, safe and sanitary.” The unit must be re-inspected annually.
Q. What if a unit “fails” the inspection?
A. Under Federal regulations, a unit either “passes” or “fails”. Any item that does not meet the standards will cause the unit to fail. The owner will be notified, in writing, if the unit “fails”. The owner determines whether he/she is willing to make the repairs and informs the program participant and the housing authority of this decision. If the owner elects not to make the repairs, the household must choose another unit to receive assistance.
Q. What happens if the unit fails the inspection due to tenant-caused violations of the standards?
A. The program participant is responsible for HQS violations caused by the following:
Program participant failure to pay for tenant-supplied utilities;
Program participant failure to provide and maintain tenant-supplied appliances.
The Metro HRA may terminate assistance to a program participant for tenant-caused HQS violations.
Until assistance to the program participant is terminated, the Metro HRA does not stop HAP payments to the owner or terminate the HAP contract because of tenant-caused violations.
Q. When does the HRA mail rent payments?
A. It is the policy of the HRA to mail rent payments on the last working day of the month with the intention that the owner receives payment on the first working day of the month. The owner may receive payment late the first month of assisted occupancy due to delayed processing affected by the completion of the inspection and return of leasing and contract documents.
Q. What should an owner do if he/she has a question about the amount of or receipt of a payment?
A. Contact the HRA Coordinator assigned to the household. His or her name will appear on the paperwork received from the HRA. Requests and inquiries can also be made online through AssistanceCheck.
Q. What is the process if a household wants to move to another unit within the same building/complex or another building/complex?
A. The program participant is required to give the HRA at least a proper 60-day notice of his/her intention to move and must have permission from the landlord. The HRA must re-verify income, re-establish rent portions, execute new documents, and inspect the new unit.
Q. What happens if a program participant “skips” or vacates a unit in violation of their notice requirements?
A. Assistance for participants who leave their unit in violation of their lease term will be terminated from the rent assistance program. Please notify the family’s HRA Coordinator.