Here are frequently asked questions about being an owner/landlord that participates in the Housing Choice Voucher Program.
What does the program offer to owners?
The CDA pays a portion of the rent each month. The program lessens the burden on the participant’s budget for housing costs, helping them to better afford their rental portion, resulting in more consistent, timely and full payments to owners. Additionally, an annual inspection of the units helps to alert owners of required and/or recommended repairs. Ideally, timely maintenance will reduce costly repairs.
Who is eligible for the program?
A family or an individual is eligible if their gross annual income does not exceed the federal income guidelines. Since the Housing Choice Voucher (Section 8) program is a “tenant-based” program, assistance originates with the eligible family or individual, not the housing unit. Housing Choice Voucher funding is limited and not everyone who qualifies for assistance can obtain a voucher. Many families are on waiting lists until funds are available.
How does an owner get involved in the program?
An owner becomes involved in the program when contacted by a participant with a Housing Choice Voucher from a housing authority. The voucher participant looking for a rental unit will inform the owner that they have a voucher for rent assistance and will ask the owner if he/she is willing to participate in the program.
Additionally, if the owner or landlord has a unit available that they would like to rent to a Housing Choice Voucher participant, include “Vouchers Accepted” to your advertisement. Owners can also contact the Dakota County CDA to be added to the vacancy listing that is available in the CDA’s lobby and on the website.
Does the CDA screen individuals or families for the owner?
No. The CDA does not screen participants for rental/credit history. Screening and selection is the responsibility of the owner or landlord. The CDA recommends that the owner check references of all applicants (assisted and non-assisted) for past rental history. Information known to the CDA of the Housing Choice Voucher participant’s current and previous landlord will be provided to the prospective landlord.
If the Housing Choice Voucher participant provides us with a signed release of information, the CDA will disclose additional participant information to the owner or landlord.
Is an owner required to participate in the program?
An owner has the same right of tenant selection with regard to a Housing Choice Voucher participant as any other rental applicant. State and Federal laws prohibit housing discrimination based on race, color, creed, religion, sex, national origin, reliance on public assistance, marital status, family status or disability.
How much rent can an owner charge for his/her unit?
The owner has full discretion when it comes to rental price for their units. The CDA will review the rent to determine if the unit can be approved for the Housing Choice Voucher participant. Sometimes, even though the rent for the unit is reasonable in general, it may not work for families with very low incomes. The CDA will help to ensure that participants are not paying more than 40% of their income for a unit.
If the owner or landlord decides to change the rent charged, they must issue the CDA a 60-day written notice of the change. A family’s rent portion may change with annual re-examinations due to changes in the family’s income, expenses or family composition. The owner will be notified by the CDA of any changes in participant rent portion payments.
How is the estimate for utilities paid by the participants determined?
The estimate for tenant paid utilities (excluding phone and air conditioning) is calculated by the CDA using average consumption data based on bedroom size, structure type, energy source and current utility rate information. This data is updated on an annual basis.