Frequently Asked Landlord Questions Of The Housing Authority:

General Information

Am I eligible to become a participating owner?

To become a participating owner, all you need to do is to lease your rental unit to a voucher holder. There is nothing you must do to prequalify or register as a landlord. You must simply be the rightful owner of an eligible rental unit that you are willing to lease to a voucher family.

HRHA would disapprove a tenancy request include if the owner has:

  • Been debarred by HUD
  • Been found in violation of the Fair Housing Act by a court or administrative agency
  • Committed fraud, bribery or any other corrupt or criminal act in connection with a federal housing program
  • Engaged in drug-related or violent criminal activity
  • Previous violations of owner obligations under other HAP contracts
  • A history of renting units that fail to meet local housing codes and/or HCV program housing quality standards

Generally, owners cannot rent to relatives (HRHA may approve exceptions to accommodate a disability)

Is my unit eligible to be in the program?

Apartments, houses, duplexes, townhouses, and manufactured homes (mobile homes) are considered eligible. Generally, group homes and shared housing (multiple families in one unit) are ineligible.

To qualify, the unit must:

  • Be located within the HRHA jurisdiction (City of Harrisonburg / Rockingham County);
  • Meet Housing Quality Standards; and
  • Be rented at a reasonable rate for the size, type, and location of unit.

What are the obligations of a Section 8 housing choice voucher owner?

Your responsibilities are similar to those of an owner renting in the private market. You handle the tenant’s screening for suitability for tenancy. You must maintain the rental property in good condition according to housing quality standards, making repairs as needed. You collect payments for the security deposit, monthly rent, and any late fees or damage charges. You must pay for utilities, maintenance and services as specified in your lease with the tenant. You are required to adhere to the lease, and to the Housing Assistance Payments (HAP) contract, including the HUD Tenancy Addendum, which is your agreement with HRHA. You must also comply with applicable fair housing laws.

How can I learn more about the HCV program?

HRHA periodically offers workshops for existing and prospective HCV landlords. For a meeting or for more information, please contact Liz Webb, HCV Manager, at 540-434-7386 or at liz@harrisonburgrha.com. The HUD website also contains details about the HCV Program.

Screening and Deposits

Who is responsible for paying the security deposit?

If you want a security deposit, you must collect this from the tenant. Tenants are responsible for their own security deposit in accordance with State and local laws. HRHA does not provide security deposit assistance, and HRHA has no responsibility for damages, unpaid tenant rent, or other claims you might have against the tenant.

If you enter into a payment agreement for the security deposit (or any other amount), the agreement should be written, with receipts provided to the tenant for any payments received.

How much of a security deposit can I charge?

You may charge a security deposit similar to what is being charged to renters in the private rental market. Security deposits cannot exceed two months of contract rent, and the amount you charge HCV families must be consistent with what you would charge an unassisted tenant.

Are voucher holders screened by HRHA?

HRHA does not screen families for their suitability as renters. HRHA completes a limited screening to establish program eligibility. The voucher is not an indication that someone will make a good tenant; the HCV program cannot provide a tenancy reference.

We encourage you to screen a prospective HCV tenant just as you would screen any rental applicant. Your satisfaction as a landlord will be directly proportional to how well you screen potential renters.

You may consider any or all of the following to approve or deny an applicant:

  • Criminal Records
  • Home Visits
  • Landlord References
  • Employment
  • Credit History (capacity to pay rent should factor in HRHA’s portion)

It is discriminatory and unlawful to base tenant selection on race, color, religion, sex, familial status, national origin, or disability.

Can you give me information on a voucher family’s rental history?

With a signed authorization, HRHA may provide you with the family’s current and previous address(es), and the contact information for the current and previous landlord(s) to the extent the information is known to HRHA.

Can I deny a voucher holder? Can I accept vouchers for some units but not others?

Landlords who accept vouchers are not required to accept every voucher holder. If a prospective renter does not meet your screening standards, you would deny them – whether or not they have a voucher. Be sure to screen renters consistently, in a non-discriminatory manner.

Some rental properties are not a good fit for the voucher program. Some reasons include:

  • Short-term leasing only (HCV requires at least an initial 12-month term)
  • Asking rent is too high / not affordable (allowable family portion plus maximum subsidy)
  • Unit is leased out by bedroom