Boston Housing Authority

Policies > Section 8 Admin Plan Ch 7: Finding & Leasing Housing

Section 8 Admin Plan

Chapter 7:Finding & Leasing Housing

7.1 Searching for Housing

The Housing Choice Voucher (Voucher) is the Family’s authorization to search for housing. The Family receives the Voucher after the BHA selects the Family from the waiting list, determines the Family’s eligibility for assistance, and conducts the program briefing. Upon issuance of a Voucher, the housing search process begins. Once the Family selects a potential Apartment, the BHA begins its process of approving or denying the assisted tenancy.
 
The Leasing Officer will refer a Family to special BHA housing counseling programs, if available, and non-BHA housing search assistance as appropriate.  The BHA will make an Apartment listing and maps of Boston available at its central office located at 52 Chauncy St. and online at www.bostonhousing.org   

7.1.1    Assisting the Family in Responding to Suspected Discrimination 

When the Family believes it may have been discriminated against while attempting to find or lease a Unit, the Leasing Officer will instruct the Family to complete the HUD Discrimination Complaint Form and also file a complaint with the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination (“MCAD”). The BHA provides both forms to all Applicants at their briefing session. If necessary, the Leasing Officer will help the Family to complete the required discrimination forms. The Leasing Officer may also refer the Family to the BHA Office of Civil Rights for assistance in filing a discrimination complaint. Finally, the Family will be provided with the address and phone numbers of agencies which may be able to provide legal assistance including, but not limited to: Greater Boston Legal Services, the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights, and the Greater Boston Fair Housing Center. 

7.2       Voucher Term Length, Tolling, Extension, Expiration and Withdrawal 

7.2.1    Term Length 

A Voucher has an initial term of 120 days. The term of the Voucher is the amount of time that a Family has to find approvable housing. Vouchers will expire 120 days from the date of the issuance unless the BHA suspends or extends the term of the Voucher. See sections 7.2.4 and 7.2.5.  The Voucher will state the expiration date. 

7.2.2    Expiration 

The Voucher expires automatically on the date indicated on the Voucher unless the Voucher term changes due to an extension or suspension. See section 7.2.4. The initial Voucher states the expiration date. 

7.2.3    Withdrawal 

The BHA may withdraw the Family's Voucher at any time if the BHA finds that the Family violated any of the Family obligations as listed in 24 C.F.R. § 982.551 or section 13.4 of this Administrative Plan. 

7.2.4    Voucher Suspension Policy 

For the purposes of this section Suspension or Tolling means that the term of a Voucher does not continue to run when a Family submits the Request for Tenancy Approval (“RTA”) until the time the BHA approves or denies the request, or the RTA expires.
 
The RTA will expire if the Owner does not schedule an inspection appointment within sixty (60) days from the date the RTA is received by the BHA Inspection Department.  The Suspension time will accrue until the RTA is no longer valid.  The BHA will process one RTA per Family at a time.  A Family may withdraw a RTA at any time. The BHA will notify the Family in writing of the new expiration date and the Suspension calculations by sending the Family an Agency Determination Form. 
 
Suspension Example: 

i.            Voucher issued: May 1; Expiration date: August 31
 
ii.            Family submits the RTA: May 15
 
iii.            BHA denies the RTA: May 24 (Tolling/Suspension Time: 9 days)
 
iv.            New Voucher expiration date: September 9 

(a)        Calculation of new term. If the Voucher was suspended because the Voucher holder submitted a RTA that is no longer valid, the Leasing Officer will use the Agency Determination Form to notify the Voucher holder in writing of the new Voucher expiration date. The BHA calculates the new expiration date by adding the number of days between the date the RTA was submitted and the date the RTA became invalid to the initial expiration date.
 
(b)        Additional suspension time for repairs to the Unit, If a Family submits a RTA, but the Apartment fails inspection and the Owner needs more time to bring it up to acceptable condition, or if the Apartment cannot be inspected immediately (e.g.; if the Apartment is being rehabilitated), the Inspections Department will give the Owner 30 days to make repairs. The BHA has sole discretion to decide if such additional time shall be granted.

 7.2.5    Extension of Search Time 

(a)               Generally. A Family may apply for an extension by notifying the BHA in writing that they require more time to search for an Apartment. The BHA shall use its discretion to grant a Family requesting an extension of their Voucher term. The BHA will not grant a Voucher extension after the initial Voucher term expires. The BHA will give the Family written notice of an extension and the new expiration date by using the Agency Determination Form. 
 
(b)               Circumstances for extension. The BHA may grant extensions under each of the following non-exhaustive list of categories as circumstances warrant:                       

(1)        The Voucher Holder was not able to actively search for housing due to extenuating circumstances beyond the control of the Voucher Holder (such as fire, flood, or other natural disaster, or death in the Family that required that the Voucher Holder travel out of the state). If these 

circumstances are verified, the BHA will extend the Voucher term for the number of days that the Voucher Holder was unable to actively search for housing; 

(2)        A Voucher Holder suffered from severe medical difficulties, an unexpected illness or hospitalization (including entering a rehabilitation
program). If these circumstances are verified, the BHA will extend the Voucher term for as many days as an Applicant was hospitalized, in a
rehabilitation center, or incapacitated due to illness;
 
(3)        The Family needs and requests an extension of the initial Voucher term as a Reasonable Accommodation for an individual with a disability or handicap as defined under applicable federal or state law. Under these circumstances, the BHA may extend the Voucher term for a reasonable number of days, as determined by the BHA.
 
(4)        If the Voucher Holder was not able to actively search for housing due to incident(s) of Domestic Violence, Dating Violence, or Stalking. Under these circumstances, the BHA will extend the Voucher term for a number of days equal to the amount of time the Voucher Holder was not able to search for housing.

 
(c)               Pending discrimination action. In cases of alleged discrimination in which the Family has filed a complaint with HUD, MCAD, or a municipality's Fair Housing Commission, or has filed a discrimination complaint in court, the BHA will extend the Family's Voucher for an additional one hundred and eighty (180) days pending resolution of the matter or a finding of probable cause. 

7.3       Requests for Tenancy Approval 

7.3.1    Intake of Requests 

The Family must submit the Request for Tenancy Approval (“RTA”) and Rent Roll forms to their Leasing Officer. The Head of Household and the Apartment Owner or the Owner’s authorized agent must sign these documents. The BHA will only accept and process one RTA per Voucher Holder at a time. 

7.3.2    BHA Leasing Schedule           

The BHA will have a leasing schedule which will indicate to the Owner and the Family what date a Lease, inspection approval, and all required HUD paperwork must be completed, so the Family can be leased up the following month. The BHA has discretion to make exceptions to the leasing schedule where the Family provides proof of extenuating circumstances.           

7.3.3    Providing Information to Prospective Owners 

Upon request, the BHA will provide the prospective HCVP Owner with the following information provided that the Family signs an authorization of release of information form:
 
(a)               the Family's current and prior address as shown in BHA records; and
 
(b)               the name and address (if known to the BHA) of the Owner at the Family’s current and prior address;
 
This information will only be provided when an authorization for the release of information is completed and signed by the Participant. Requests for this information are submitted together with the Request for Tenancy Approval. This request will indicate the Owner's name and the address to which the BHA must send the information. This information will not be given over the telephone.
 
The BHA does not screen tenants with respect to their Family history or suitability for tenancy. Screening is the responsibility of the Owner.  

7.3.4    Disapproval of Owners               

(a)        The BHA must not approve an assisted tenancy if the BHA has been informed that the Owner has been debarred, suspended or subject to limited denial of participation under 24 C.F.R. part 24.
 
(b)        When directed by HUD, the BHA must not approve an assisted tenancy if: 

(1)        The Federal Government has initiated an administrative or judicial action against the Owner for violation of the Fair Housing Act or other Federal equal opportunity requirements or if such action is pending.
 
(2)        A court or administrative agency has determined that the Owner has violated the Fair Housing Act or other federal equal opportunity requirements. 

(c)        The BHA may use its discretion to deny approval of an assisted tenancy for any of the following reasons: 

(1)        The Owner has violated obligations under a HAP Contract;
 
(2)        The Owner has committed fraud, bribery, or any other corrupt criminal act in connection with any federal housing program;
 
(3)        The Owner has engaged in any Drug Related Criminal Activity or any Violent Criminal Activity;
 
(4)        The Owner has a history of non-compliance with HQS (chronic sub-standard conditions) for units Leased under the tenant-based programs, or with applicable housing standards for units Leased with project-based Section 8 assistance or Leased under any other federal housing program;
 
(5)        The Owner has failed to terminate the tenancy or notify the BHA of the termination of a tenant’s units assisted under Section 8 or any other federally assisted housing program for activity engaged in by the tenant, any member of the Household, a guest or another person under the control of any member of the Household that: 

(i)         Threatens the right to peaceful enjoyment of the Premises by other residents; or
 
(ii)        Threatens the health or safety of other residents, of employees of the BHA, or of Owner employees or other persons engaged in management of the housing; or
 
(iii)       Threatens the health or safety of, or the right to peaceful enjoyment of their residences, by persons residing in the immediate vicinity of the Premises; or
 
(iv)       Is Drug-Related Criminal Activity or Violent Criminal Activity. 

(6)        The Owner has a history or practice of renting units that fail to meet State or local housing codes, or;
 
(7)        The Owner has not paid State or local real estate taxes, fines or assessments.  

(d)        The BHA must not approve a Unit if the Owner is the parent, child, grand-parent, grandchild, sister, brother, of any member of the Family, unless the BHA determines that approving the Unit would provide a Reasonable Accommodation for a Family member who is a Disabled Person. This restriction applies at the time a Family initially receives tenant-based assistance for occupancy of a particular Unit, but does not apply to BHA approval of a new tenancy with continued tenant-based assistance in the same Unit. 

(1)        In cases where the Owner and a prospective tenant Family member bear the same last name, the BHA may, at its discretion, require the Family and or Owner to verify (i.e. birth certificates, marriage license etc.) that they are not related to each other in any way.

(e)        Nothing in this section is intended to give any Owner any right to participate in the program.
 
(f)         For the purposes of this section an Owner includes a principal or other interested party with respect to the Unit. 

7.4       Preparing the Housing Assistance Payments (HAP) Contract and Lease 

7.4.1    Determinations and Verification 

Upon inspection approval and acceptance of the negotiated rent amount, the Leasing Officer will do the following:
 
(1)        Designate the Lease initiation date in accordance with the BHA Leasing Schedule (see section 7.3.2);
                       
            For example:  For a Lease initiation date of February 1st the BHA must receive an Inspection approval on or before January 3rd.  If the inspection approval is received after January 3rd, then the Lease initiation date will be March 1st.
 
(2)        Make sure the correct "Utility Allowance" was provided on the Rent Approval Form and the Family's share of the rent and utilities;
 
(3)        The Leasing Officer will encourage the Owner to use the BHA’s HCVP model Lease. The HCVP model Lease is available on the BHA web site www.bostonhousing.org). If the Owner chooses not to use the BHA HCVP model Lease then he must submit a private market Lease in accordance with section 7.4.2 of this Administrative Plan.   

7.4.2    Variations from the BHA Model Lease 

(a)        Amendments to the Model Lease. Variations from the BHA Model Lease must be in a written, standard form used by the Owner in the locality, must comply with state and local law (unit Owners will certify to this by signing the required HAP Contract), and apply to the unassisted tenants in the same property. Amendments are subject to the approval of the BHA.
 
(b)        Private Market Leases. If an Owner chooses to use his or her own Lease or to include additional Lease terms, the Administrator or his or her designee will review the documents to ensure they are in accordance with state and local laws. Use of a private market lease is subject to BHA approval.  A Private Market Lease must comply with the Attorney General's landlord-tenant regulations.
 
The Participant or the Owner must provide Private Market Lease to the BHA at the time the Participant gives the BHA the “Request for Tenancy Approval.”
 
The HUD Tenancy Addendum must be executed and attached to all Leases.
 
The BHA private market lease rider will be attached to all private market leases to establish that the Lease will continue in month to month successive terms after the initial term stated in the Lease.  The lease may not be terminated without cause even when the lease becomes a month to month agreement.
 
In accordance with federal regulations, the Owner’s standard form Lease must include:
 
(1)        The names of the parties;
 
(2)        The term of the Lease;
 
(3)        Which utilities and appliances are supplied by the Owner and which are supplied by the Family;
 
(4)        If any security deposit is collected and the amount of any such security deposit; and
 
(5)        Any additional document(s) required by the BHA, if applicable 

7.4.3    Signing the HCVP HAP Contracts 

(a)        Lease and Contract. The Head and Co-Head of Household and the Owner must sign the Lease and a HUD Tenancy Addendum. The Owner must sign a HAP Contract with the BHA.  The tenant must have legal capacity to enter a lease under State and local law. "Legal capacity'' means that the tenant is bound by the terms of the lease and may enforce the terms of the lease against the Owner.  See also, Chapter 18 for the Definition of an Emancipated Minor.
 
(b)        Proof of Ownership. The Owner must provide proof of Ownership (as filed in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Registry of Deeds) of the assisted Unit. If the deed is over ten (10) years old, the BHA will require that the Owner supply a current tax bill. Any Owner who has recently purchased the property must provide a certificate or letter prepared by and from an attorney present at the closing, certifying the date, time and instrument number of filing at the applicable Registry of Deeds. The Owner must also execute the HAP Contract and the Owner/Agent Data Form. 

(1)        The BHA may use its discretion to accept other legal documents as proof of Ownership. 

(c)        The BHA must request from the Owner, a copy of the Owner’s IRS Form W-9, Request for Taxpayer Identification Number and certification, for IRS reporting purposes.  IRS Form W-9 asks for the Owner’s name, the business name and address, and the taxpayer identification number. The BHA uses the information obtained from the Form W-9 to report to the IRS the amount of income it has paid to Owners (in the form of Housing Assistance Payments). The BHA uses the IRS Form 1099 for this purpose.