Please click on a question below to view the answer. For answers to more frequently asked questions about the Housing Choice Voucher Program, please link to specific topics from the Housing Choice Voucher FAQs menu.
How to become a Housing Choice Voucher Section 8 owner?
- The first step in becoming a Housing Authority of DeKalb County Housing Choice Voucher owner is to attend a Landlord Briefing.
- List your property with Georgia Housing Search. Please be advised that listing your property with HADC does not guarantee a renter.
- The owner interviews, screens and selects a tenant.
- Once the owner approves the tenant, the owner completes the Owner Information Packet and the owner and tenant complete the Request for Tenancy Approval (RTA) package. All paperwork (including all required documents) is returned to the Housing Authority by both the family or the owner or the owner only.
- After HADC receives the completed paperwork from either the tenant or the owner, if the tenant income qualifies for the unit, an inspection is scheduled within 8-10 working days.
- The tenant should not move into the unit until it passes initial inspection and all required paperwork is signed and approved, as HADC will not pay any rent for a unit until the Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) contract is signed by both HADC and the owner.
- In addition to the Housing Quality Standards (HQS) inspection, HADC will also conduct a rent reasonableness survey to determine if the requested rent amount is reasonable to comparable unassisted units in the same geographical area (HADC will not approve a rental rate that exceeds market rates).
- Once the unit passes the HQS inspection, the rent is deemed "reasonable" and the move-in date is established, the owner and tenant sign the lease and provide a copy to HADC.
- The Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) contract will be prepared by HADC. Please note a payment will not be made until after both HADC and the owner sign the HAP contract.
- The owner and tenant will both be notified in writing regarding how much rent is to be paid by the tenant and how much will be paid by HADC on the family's behalf.
What are my rights and responsibilities as an owner?
Owners have the same rights and responsibilities in the Housing Choice Voucher Program as they have with any open market renter, including:
- Maintain your property in good condition.
- Complete all necessary repairs within a reasonable amount of time upon request by the Housing Authority or tenant, including all 24 hours emergency items. The amount of time that is considered reasonable depends upon the nature of the problem. Usually 30 days or any approved extension by the Housing Authority.
- Set reasonable rules about the use of unit and common areas.
- Except for emergencies or tenant's requested repairs, do not enter a unit without tenant's permission and/or proper notice.
- Collect appropriate security deposit as directed under the program and use it only in accordance with local and state law.
- Comply with equal housing opportunity requirements.
- Enforce tenant obligations under your dwelling lease (be fair, firm and consistent).
- Take action through the Court system in order to evict a tenant when they violate the lease (no self-help evictions tactics).
What are the some of the benefits of being a Housing Choice Voucher Section 8 Owner?
Benefits of being a Housing Choice Voucher Section 8 Owner include:
- Free advertisement and marketing of available units: Owners are welcome to list their units with us through Georgia Housing Search and GoSection8.com.
- Owners select their own tenants: Owners are encouraged to screen tenants. Owners are not required to rent to a family who does not meet their non-discriminatory screening requirements.
- Quality housing: The Housing Authority conducts an initial property inspection, annual inspections and special inspections upon the request of the owner or tenant. Along with the owner's periodic checks, these inspections help insure that the property is well maintained.
- Guaranteed monthly housing assistance payments: The portion of rent paid by the HADC is paid to the owner’s agent each month.
- Reduced amount of paperwork: The HADC prepares all Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) contracts. Owners complete the Request for Tenancy Approval forms and provide the executed lease. Most of the required paperwork is prepared by the HADC.
How can I advertise property for rent?
The Housing Authority has partnered with AffordableHousing.com (formerly GoSection8.com), which provides an enhanced program to list rental properties online. Listings are available to potential Housing Choice Voucher tenants seeking apartment units, duplexes, single-family homes or townhomes in the private market. If you have any questions regarding registering, creating or viewing property listings, please contact the AffordableHousing.com toll free helpline at 1-866-466-7328.
LINK HERE to view tenants search portal for rental listings
Landlords/Owners can LINK HERE to list your rental property*
*It is recommended that Landlords add photos to their listing for better advertising and faster lease up!
How can I tell if my unit is eligible for the Housing Choice Voucher Program?
Any type of housing may be rented - apartments, houses, duplexes, row houses, etc. - as long as the unit is located within the Housing Authority of DeKalb County's jurisdiction. The unit must meet HUD Housing Quality Standards (HQS), qualify as an eligible type, and the rent must be reasonable for the size, type and location of unit.
How can an owner increase rent?
Rent increases are not automatically implemented. The owner’s agent must give the tenant at least a sixty (60) day written notice of an increase before it can go into effect. A copy of the Rent Increase Request Form with the tenant's signature must be submitted to the HADC before the rent increase can take effect. The HADC does not put a limit on the amount the owner can request for an increase; however, the new requested rent must be reasonable in comparison with other similar units in the area.
Once the HADC receives the notice of rent increase, a rent comparability study is conducted to determine if the new rent for the unit is reasonable in comparison to unassisted private market units in the area. If it is determined that the rent is not reasonable, the HADC will contact the owner’s agent and advise him/her of a reasonable rental amount for the unit. If the owner does not agree to the amount, the Housing Authority and owner’s agent will have to negotiate another acceptable amount or the owner’s agent can provide the family with a notice to vacate.
What are the terms of the lease?
The HADC requires the tenant and owner to enter into a written lease agreement and must review and approve all leases before the owner can use their lease for the program. The initial term of the lease must be for one year. The lease will automatically convert to a month-to-month lease unless the tenant and owner renew the lease for another lease term. The owner must agree to include the HUD Lease Addendum as an attachment to the lease. If the lease contradicts anything in the HUD Tenancy Addendum or program regulations, the addendum and program regulations shall prevail.
How much may an owner charge for security deposit?
Tenants are responsible for their own security deposit in accordance with State and Local laws. Owners are allowed to charge a security deposit similar to what is being charged to renters in the private rental market. The Housing Authority prohibits security deposits in excess of one months approved contract rent. Owner's security deposit amounts charged to a Housing Choice Voucher family must be consistent with the unassisted tenants on the private open market.
What if the owner wants to terminate the lease?
If the owner wants to terminate the lease, the owner can only give the tenant a notice WITH CAUSE and with the proper action according to the State of Georgia Landlord Tenant Law. The owner and tenant can also mutually agree to terminate the lease. Force evictions, such as changing the locks, turning utilities off, illegally taking precession of the unit under false pretenses, are illegal in Georgia and will subject the owner to severe criminal charges and civil penalties.
An owner may choose not to renew the lease at the end of the lease term. The owner must give the family a minimum thirty (30) day notice to vacate the unit. Due to the time required to process a family to move, it would be advantageous for the owner to provide the tenant with sixty (60) days of notice to vacate.
The HADC does not conduct move-out inspections. Owners must conduct their own move-out inspections of the unit.
What to do when you find someone who is interested in your unit?
Owners must screen the prospective tenant carefully to insure that you are making a good selection. The HADC does not screen families for suitability or behavior. We only screen families for income eligibility and criminal background. Therefore, the HADC cannot provide a reference as to their expected behavior as tenants. An owner may use any or all of the following screening procedures to approve or deny an applicant:
- Credit Check
- criminal Check
- Home Visits
The HADC strongly encourages owners to screen prospective tenants and to use all or any of the above screening methods as long as they do not discriminate. Discrimination includes any tenant selection based solely on race, color, religion, sex, familial status, national origin or handicap (disability).
Your satisfaction as an owner will be directly proportionate to how well you screen potential renters. Screening and selection are completely owner responsibilities.
What should I expect from Housing Choice Voucher tenants?
- Pay their rent on time.
- Keep the unit clean.
- Maintain exterior of residence and yard.
- Avoid illegal activities by household members and guest.
- Allow Housing Authority Inspectors access to the unit to conduct inspections.
- Permit owner or their agent and designated repairmen access to the unit for repairs.
- Avoid damage to property by household members and guests.
- Refrain from disturbing others (respecting the right to peaceful enjoyment by their neighbors).
- Allow only those occupants on the lease to reside in the unit.
- Comply with terms and conditions of the dwelling lease and tenancy addendum.
How much can I rent my unit for?
The HADC has established payment standards by bedroom size as guidelines for determining the maximum subsidy we can pay for a family. This payment standard is generally a gauge of the current rental market. However, each unit is evaluated by the Inspector on a case-by-case basis. Each unit's rent must be reasonable and comparable to unassisted private market rental units of similar size, location, amenities, quality, unit type, maintenance, utilities and services. In no case can the rent be more than comparable available unassisted units.
Current payment standards can be accessed from the HADC website's Forms and Information page.
Does the family pay for utilities?
Yes, unless the owner includes utilities in the rent. The owner decides which utilities they will provide as a part of the rent and which utilities the family will be responsible for. Utility service, including water, must be on at the time of the move-in inspection. Utilities that the Section 8 participant pays for cannot be master metered or shared with another unit or common area and must be billed directly by the utility service provider.
If a family is responsible for paying a utility, the HADC generally will credit the family with a utility allowance that lowers their tenant rental share and leaves them with the necessary money to assist with utility cost. Current Utility Allowance Schedules can be accessed from the HADC website's Forms and Information page.
Utility responsibilities dictate the type of utilities that are in the unit (gas, water, heating, electric stove, etc.) and whether the owner or tenant pays for the utility. This information factors into the amount of assistance a tenant will receive and must be updated with HADC if changed. To request a change of utility responsibilities, link here to download HADC's Change of Utility Responsibility Form.
What will the inspector be looking for?
The housing inspector will be checking to see if the unit is in compliance with Housing Quality Standards (HQS). These are minimum standards that any unit rented under the Housing Choice Voucher Program must meet.
When can I expect my first check?
After the lease and Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) contract have been executed, the contract is processed for payment. Generally, the first payment takes approximately 30 to 45 days. Payments will be made via direct deposit into your savings or checking account each month. An email will be sent to owners notifying them that the HAP has been deposited into their account.
Is my unit inspected after the initial inspection?
Yes. The HADC must inspect all units regularly to ensure program compliance. The HADC has implemented biennial (every two years) inspections beginning in November 2014. With the exception of VASH participants, biennial inspections will occur for units which have been inspected during the last 12 months. Units will be scheduled according to the zip code that they reside in. In addition, the HADC will continue to conduct special inspections upon request in the case of an emergency or complaint by the owner, tenant, Housing Authority, or a general complaint.
Can I cancel the HADC contract if I'm not satisfied?
No. Only the HADC can cancel the Housing Assistance Payments (HAP) Contract. An owner is free to terminate a lease agreement pursuant to the State and local laws. Once the lease agreement ends, the HAP Contract terminates automatically.
How long can I rent to a Housing Choice Voucher Family?
The initial lease term is for one year. After the initial term, the lease continues on a month-to-month basis indefinitely as long as there are available funds and the unit, family and owner are in compliance with program requirements, including family income.
Can a voucher be used to rent from a relative?
Housing Choice Voucher holders cannot rent from their immediate relatives. This includes the participant's mother, father, sister, brother, grandparents, grandchildren, step-family, in-laws, or any member of his or her household. A family can rent a unit from a relative as a reasonable accommodation only if the head of household or a member of the household is a person with a disability. The family must show that renting the unit provides a reasonable accommodation. HADC must approve the reasonable accommodation.
What types of housing can someone rent with a Section 8 Voucher?
Section 8 Vouchers can be used to rent houses, duplexes, triplexes, apartments, condominiums, townhouses and cottages. Other housing types, such as group homes and shared rentals are only available as a reasonable accommodation for people with disabilities.
Does the owner have to be present when the inspection occurs?
No. There must be a responsible adult present, age 18 or over, however, to let the inspector into the unit. We advise that owners be present for the initial inspection. This is an opportunity for you to find out first hand why the unit did not pass inspection.
Who is responsible for repairs?
As the owner and property manager you are responsible for basic maintenance and normal wear and tear of the unit. You must make repairs that are your responsibility within a reasonable amount of time (generally 30 days) or the HADC will hold or abate your Housing Assistance Payments. Damages caused by your tenant, members of your tenant's household, or your tenant's guest are the tenant's responsibility.
What happens if the tenant damages the unit?
As with any tenancy, repairs for tenant-caused damages are the responsibility of the tenant. The HADC does not reimburse the owner for tenant caused damages. You should collect a security deposit and enforce your lease provision in the same way you would with any other tenants you rent to on the open market. You should seek reimbursement from the tenant for any damage repair costs paid on the tenant's behalf. If the unit does not pass the annual inspection because of something your tenant is responsible for, then your tenant will need to have repairs made within a reasonable amount of time (generally 30 days unless an emergency 24 hours item) or the family's assistance will be terminated.
Can I transfer the lease and contract to a new owner?
The lease and Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) Contract may be transferred to a new property owner.The new owner will need to provide the HADC with proof of ownership documentation and all required new owner information in order to begin receiving the Housing Assistance Payments.