Frequently Asked Landlord Questions Of The Housing Authority:

General Information and Eligibility

The Housing Choice Voucher program provides rental assistance for eligible low-income families and individuals renting in the open market. Participants pay a portion of the rent based on income; the rest is paid directly to the landlord by the Harrisonburg Redevelopment & Housing Authority (HRHA).

Vouchers assist members of the community. When you rent to a voucher holder, you help an individual or family who otherwise could not afford to live here. It also makes sense financially:

  • The subsidy portion of the rent is guaranteed
  • Timely payments are made by direct deposit
  • When tenants report a loss of income, the subsidy is adjusted, so landlords receive full rent
  • Voucher staff can encourage and support tenant lease compliance
  • Voucher inspections (annual or biennial) help keep your property in good repair
  • New Landlord Incentives:
    • For new contracts executed between June 15, 2020 and September 30, 2020, landlords will receive an incentive payment of $250, or $400 for an accessible one-bedroom unit
    • Damages Fund – Through September 30, 2020, move-out reimbursement payments of up to $750 are available for tenant damages and other expenses that exceed the security deposit (landlords must agree to lease up to another voucher participant to be eligible for this reimbursement)

A landlord must be the rightful owner of an eligible rental unit, and willing to lease to a voucher family, to participate. No pre-registration or pre-qualification is needed! W-9 and Direct Deposit Authorization forms must be filed by landlords, to receive HRHA payments.

HRHA would disapprove a tenancy request if the landlord:

  • Has been debarred by HUD
  • Has 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
  • Has previously violated owner obligations under other HAP contracts
  • Has a history of renting units that fail to meet local housing codes or housing quality standards

The responsibilities are like those of a landlord renting in the private market:

  • Screen prospective applicants for suitability for tenancy
  • Maintain the rental property in decent, safe, and sanitary condition, making repairs as needed
  • Collect payments for the security deposit, monthly rent, and any late fees or damage charges
  • Pay for utilities, maintenance, and services as specified in the lease agreement
  • Adhere to the lease with the tenant, and adhere to the agreement with HRHA, the Housing Assistance Payments (HAP) contract, including the HUD Tenancy Addendum
  • Comply with applicable fair housing laws

To qualify, a unit must:

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

Apartments, houses, duplexes, townhouses, and manufactured homes (mobile homes) are eligible housing types. Group homes and shared housing (renting by bedroom) may also be eligible. A minimum one-year (12-mo) lease is generally required.

  • Yes! We encourage you to list your unit with us to advertise directly to voucher holders, leading to lots of calls! After all, it is free advertising!
  • Do not forget to check that your unit will work with our payment standards. You can check here.
  • If you are a current HCV landlord, list your unit through our Landlord Portal. If you are a new landlord, use the form linked HERE!

There is no required pre-registration. However, some steps towards becoming a voucher landlord are:

Tenant Selection and Leasing

Fit is important when choosing a tenant. Screen prospective voucher tenants as you would screen any other rental applicant, in accordance with fair housing rules. HRHA does not screen for suitability. We can give you contact information for current or prior landlords if known.

Submit a completed Request for Tenancy Approval along with the following items:

You may need to submit additional items if the owner is not the manager or if you have recently purchased the property.

Tenants who wish to use their voucher in their current rental can “lease in place,” if the landlord completes all required paperwork, the rent is reasonable/affordable, and the unit passes an inspection (currently accepting self-certified for occupied units). Because the HAP contract must align with the lease dates, either a new lease, or an addendum to align the lease with the HAP contract is required.

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 – regardless of whether they have a voucher. Be sure to screen renters consistently, in a non-discriminatory manner, following fair housing laws. Renting restrictions regarding who you may lease your rental to are limited, however landlords generally cannot rent to relatives (HRHA may approve exceptions to accommodate a disability).

HRHA does not screen the family for suitability for tenancy, only for program eligibility. We encourage you to conduct any kind of background checks that you use typically to select your tenants. It is discriminatory and unlawful to base tenant selection on race, color, religion, sex, familial status, national origin, or disability.  In addition, landlords should familiarize themselves with Virginia’s new source of funds law, which became effective on July 1, 2020.

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.

Landlords may charge a security deposit. Security deposits cannot exceed two months of contract rent, and the amount you charge voucher families must be consistent with what you would charge an unassisted tenant.

Tenants are responsible for their own security deposit in accordance with State and local laws. HRHA does not provide security deposit assistance and has no responsibility for damages, unpaid tenant rent, or other claims you might have against the tenant. However, until September 30th, HRHA will provide a $750 damages fund to assist with repairs so long as you agree to lease to another voucher holder.

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.

Yes, you may use your own lease. The lease must be in the standard form the landlord uses in the locality or the premises for unassisted tenants. Your relationship with the tenant is based on your own lease, and the lease must include the HUD Tenancy Addendum, so please read it carefully.

At minimum, the lease must include the HUD-prescribed tenancy addendum and the following information:

  • Names of the landlord and tenant
  • Unit address
  • The unit rented (address, apartment number, and any other information needed to identify the contract unit)
  • Term of the lease, including initial term and any provision for renewal
  • Amount of monthly rent to landlord
  • Specification of what utilities and appliances are to be supplied by the landlord and what utilities and appliances are to be supplied by the family

Landlords and housing providers do not have to accept every applicant who will pay with a voucher or other lawful sources of income. However, landlords must treat every applicant the same, including looking at credit and rental history, sufficiency of funds, and adhering to a background check. A landlord would not be able to simply deny someone because they will pay with a rent voucher or other lawful alternative incomes.

Please note: This rule does not apply to a landlord who owns 4 or fewer rental units.

Yes, either party can change their mind at any point after the RFTA is submitted. However, submitting an RFTA signals to HRHA that the voucher holder is a good fit for the unit, so HRHA encourages moving forward after this point unless issues related to rent or fit arise.

Rent Negotiations and Increases

The asking rental price is set by the landlord. You can charge whatever amount is fair on the open market.

Rent reasonableness is required for approval of a new tenancy and as part of any landlord requested rent increase.  The asking rent must be comparable to similar privately leased units in the current rental market.  For multifamily properties, the asking rent cannot exceed the rent for comparable units leased by non-voucher households on the premises.

Rent must also be affordable for approval of a new tenancy.

The voucher amount, or payment standard, is the maximum subsidy for a household, before deducting the household’s minimum contribution towards rent and tenant-paid utilities.  The minimum contribution is 30% of the household’s monthly adjusted income (or $50, whichever is greater).  If the asking rent plus allowances for tenant-paid utilities is less than or equal to the voucher amount, the voucher household pays their minimum contribution towards utilities and rent, and HRHA subsidizes the rest.

If the asking rent plus allowances for tenant-paid utilities exceeds the voucher amount, the household pays the minimum contribution PLUS the amount by which the total exceeds the voucher amount.  The household’s maximum contribution towards rent and tenant-paid utilities must still be affordable, and therefore cannot exceed 40% of their monthly adjusted income.

While not a guarantee, our Rent Calculator can estimate if your unit/rent is affordable with a voucher.

HRHA conducts a rent reasonableness study to determine if the proposed rent (new lease or rent increase) is reasonable.  The analysis considers market factors that impact rent, such as the size, location, quality, type, and age of the unit, as well as any amenities, housing services, maintenance and utilities to be provided by the landlord in accordance with the lease.  A database of comparable units is maintained and continually updated to reflect the current rental market.

HRHA will notify landlords of the outcome of the rent reasonableness study.

HRHA notifies the landlord if the asking rent cannot be approved.

  • If asking rent is denied based on rent reasonableness (new lease or rent increase): Landlords who disagree with the results of a rent reasonableness study may submit comparable units (up to three) for consideration. HRHA will complete an updated rent reasonableness study and notify the landlord of the results.
  • If asking rent is denied based on affordability (new lease): If the rent is not affordable because the family share would be more than 40% of the family’s monthly adjusted income, HRHA will negotiate with the landlord as to whether the rent can be reduced to be in compliance with HUD guidelines.

The family cannot pay more than the amount determined by HRHA.  Side deals between landlord and family, where the family pays the difference, are prohibited, and could result in the family being terminated and the landlord disbarred, suspended or subject to a limited denial of participation.

A written rent increase request may be submitted at any time after the initial lease term, in accordance with any rent increase provisions specified in your lease and the HUD Tenancy Addendum.

  • Timing: The request must be submitted at least sixty (60) days prior to the effective date of the rent increase so that HRHA can process it with proper notice. The rent increase will be effective on the date specified by the landlord or on the first of the month following a full 60-day notice to the tenant and HRHA.
  • Review Factors: The requested rent must meet rent reasonableness. HRHA will not approve a change in the rent during the initial term of the lease or from landlords whose contracts are in abatement for landlord violations.

Finance and Ownership

This information is required so that HRHA can issue a 1099 for rental payments. The landlord’s ID allows us to verify ownership information of property, verify and/or negotiate rent amount, verify bank account details and tax ID information, and verify lease for compliance with regulations – all necessary before you can rent your property to a voucher holder.

Direct deposit is mandatory for all voucher landlords in HRHA’s HCV Program. Direct deposit will only be made into one bank account, either checking or savings. There are many benefits including reduced risks of check fraud and lost or stolen checks, as well as guaranteed timely payments every month. Access to HRHA’s Landlord Portal provides a record of payments.

Any changes to your account information must be submitted in writing on a new Direct Deposit Authorization form.

As soon as you know that you are closing, please inform your assigned HCV Specialist that ownership will change. We will stop payment and issue our portion of the rent to the new landlord once they are verified. If the rent check has gone to you and you no longer own this unit, call your HCV Specialist so payment can be reissued.

You may call HRHA, submit in writing to HRHA or your HCV Specialist as well as through your Landlord Portal.

A tenant cannot be forced out of an apartment while the landlord is in foreclosure. After a foreclosure is over, a tenant usually will receive at least 90 days’ notice to move out so long as the tenant keeps paying rent and following the terms of their lease. An eviction can be started against a tenant even while a foreclosure is in process.

Landlords are still paid – HRHA has never experienced a situation where we could not pay our landlords.

Once your unit has passed inspection, the lease (including the tenancy addendum) and HAP Contract have been signed, and the tenant takes possession of the unit, HRHA can begin rental payments. Our portion of the rent is paid to you via direct deposit, generally on the first business day of every month.

There are various reasons you may not have gotten a check:

  • Mid-month move-ins may take 1-2 weeks to process.
  • Rent stops when repairs are not completed by the re-inspection deadline date. Any time your rent payment is stopped, you will receive a letter (or copy of a termination notice).The unit will be taken out of abatement if it passes inspection, and payments will resume the day after the unit passes inspection. You will not receive payment for the period the unit was under failure.

If you are not sure why your rent check was stopped or want to check the status of a payment, please contact your HCV Specialist or check the Landlord Portal for updates.

Online Landlord Portal

To use Assistance Connect, you must first create an account online at You will need a PIN, which HRHA can provide (call during business hours or email). Simply click on “Create an owner account” using the PIN provided and your tax ID to access your account.  If you have any questions regarding making changes in your account, please contact our office.


Housing Quality Standards (HQS) are the HUD minimum quality standards for assisted housing under the HCV Program. HQS have been developed to ensure homes are safe, decent and sanitary. These standards are applied during unit inspections.

To comply with social distancing guidelines, if the unit is occupied, landlords must certify that there are no life-threatening conditions, and a follow-up inspection will be completed when it is possible to safely do so. Prior to contract signing, vacant units will be inspected following safety protocols

We are required to inspect your unit within 15 days of receiving all completed paperwork, but usually landlords will receive a call within a week to schedule their unit inspection. Someone must be present to let in the inspector on the day of your unit inspection or the inspection will have to be rescheduled.

The packet you receive from a voucher holder will outline unit requirements, including, but is not limited to, bedrooms having at least one window that provides unobstructed egress from the room, all stove burners and oven being operable, and the refrigerator’s components being present and workable with a temperature below 38 degrees. There can be no visible signs of mildew or mold. Please review these and additional requirements in your landlord packet under the title “Common Inspection Violations” and call HRHA with any additional questions.

Yes, all utilities must be on and all appliances and equipment operable. Utilities may be in the landlord’s name for the inspection.

The unit must pass inspection and be certified to be a decent, sanitary space before the HAP contract begins. While a tenant may live in the unit before inspection, the voucher cannot be applied until repairs are completed and the unit passes inspection.

If the unit was built post-1978 and has a history of passing inspections, rental units are inspected every two years. Otherwise, units may be inspected every year and/or can be inspected upon request. Someone must be present to let the inspector into the property. If no one is present, the inspection cannot take place. You will be notified regarding your inspection time by the phone number listed on your RFTA, so please make sure to include a number at which you can be easily reached.

While the repairs must be completed to pass the periodic inspection, the landlord is not responsible for a breach of the HQS caused by the tenant. You may charge the tenant for damages to the unit, but please notify HRHA of the damages. HRHA may terminate assistance to a family if responsible for causing the HQS breach. Please contact your HCV Specialist for assistance and/or more information.

The landlord must maintain the unit in accordance with HQS. HRHA will not make any housing assistance payments for a unit failing to meet HQS unless the landlord corrects the defect within the time frame given. If a landlord needs more time to complete the required repairs, a landlord should submit a request for extension to be approved by HRHA.

Please refer to the HUD pamphlet on lead-based paint entitled Protect Your Family from Lead in Your Home, linked here, for more information on lead-based paint requirements.

Ongoing Tenancy, Issues and Terminations

The family cannot pay more than the amount determined by HRHA.  Side deals between landlord and family, where the family pays the difference, are prohibited, and could result in the family being terminated and the landlord disbarred, suspended or subject to a limited denial of participation.

HRHA is not a party to the lease. However, HRHA assigns an HCV Specialist to each tenant who will assist in handling any matters concerning family’s income, household composition changes, the unit, and/or payments.

When the tenant reports an increase or decrease in income, HRHA adjusts our monthly portion of the rent to ensure timely payments every month.

Call HRHA or check a recent rent change letter to determine your tenant’s voucher specialist and/or where you can reach them.

HRHA assigns each voucher holder an HCV Specialist. Please contact your tenant’s HCV Specialist to help resolve any issues or contact us at (540)434-7386.

With the typical HCV lease lasting over four years, review of eligibility – no new lease or contract necessary – is all that is needed to continue occupancy after the initial one-year lease.

While a new lease is not required after the first year, please submit a copy of any lease renewal or nonrenewal, as well as any lease changes to HRHA. Changes to provisions of lease terms or responsibility for utilities require HRHA approval and execution of a new HAP contract.

Yes, you can charge a month to month fee after the first year if it is written into the lease so long as you follow this practice with your non-subsidized clients as well.

A voucher tenant must give notice to their landlord within specifications of their lease and notify HRHA when they want to move out of their unit.

You are under no obligation to continue the contract under this circumstance, but if you choose to continue the contract and/or give an extension, HRHA will continue to pay our portion of the rent as long as the voucher holder is living there.

Please notify your HCV Specialist in writing of the decision reached by you and your tenant to prevent delays in payments.

Please give written notice in accordance with the lease and HUD requirements to HRHA. During the term of the lease (the initial term of the lease or any extension term), the landlord may only terminate the tenancy because of: (1) Serious or repeated violation of the lease; (2) Violation of Federal, State, or local law that imposes obligations on the tenant in connection with the occupancy or use of the unit and the premises; (3) Criminal activity or alcohol; or (4) Other good cause.

If a Housing Choice Voucher Program tenant violates the lease agreement, a landlord may evict the tenant in accordance with State and local law. HRHA recommends that the landlord inform HRHA staff of initial lease violations. The tenant may lose their voucher if they are evicted for lease violations.

While you can keep the payment for the month in which the tenant vacates the unit, you must notify HRHA immediately. Any payment made to a vacant unit must be recouped per the contract. If the tenant vacating the unit violated the lease, please notify HRHA as this determines whether the tenant will retain the voucher.

A landlord who experiences problems receiving a rental assistance payment should contact HRHA to determine if/when payment should be made. If a landlord evicts a tenant for violations of the lease agreement, HRHA will continue to pay our share of the rent throughout the eviction process until the date the tenant moves out/is locked out.

After the contract is cancelled, the tenant is responsible for paying the full amount of rent.

Yes, please submit a copy of the security deposit disposition, outlining damages the tenant did not cover, to HRHA. Until September 30th, HRHA will provide a $750 damages fund to assist with repairs so long as you agree to lease to another voucher holder.

Important Terms

HRHA is the Harrisonburg Redevelopment & Housing Authority.

A contract unit is the housing unit rented by the tenant with assistance under the program.

The HAP contract, or housing assistance payments contract, is the contract between the PHA and the landlord. The PHA pays housing assistance payments to the landlord in accordance with the HAP contract.

RFTA is short for Request for Tenancy Approval. This form tells HRHA that a landlord wishes to lease to a voucher holder and provides details on the unit so HRHA can process the request.

A household is the persons who may reside in the contract unit. The household consists of the family and any HRHA-approved live-in aide. (A live-in aide is a person who resides in the unit to provide necessary supportive services for a member of the family who is a person with disabilities.)

HQS are the minimum quality standards for housing assisted under the Housing Choice Voucher program.

HUD is the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. HUD requirements for the voucher program are issued by HUD headquarters, as regulations, Federal Register notices, and other binding program directives.

PHA stands for Public Housing Agency.

To access a printable version of the FAQs, click here.