New Section 8 Rules

Section 8 participation is, in fact, voluntary, in 1998, San Francisco amended Article 33 of the San Francisco Police code. This amendment to the police code made it illegal to discriminate based on source of income in managing rental property. While any landlord is free to choose not to participate in the section 8 program, the rejected tenant is free to challenge the owner and file a discrimination complaint against the landlord if they feel that the rejection is solely due to the fact that they have a section 8 subsidy, Then it becomes a matter for the courts to resolve.

For other jurisdictions, this is not a concern for them because they have not passed similar legislation in their locality.

First any tenant-caused damages or deficiencies are the responsibility of the tenant to correct. They are subject to losing their subsidy if they do not comply. However, note that if the tenant loses their subsidy you are still left with a tenant who will now more than likely require you to evict them.

We often will ask the owner to correct a tenant-caused deficiency because as you know from the Housing Assistance Payments contract (HAP), only units that meet Housing Quality Standards (HQS) can have the subsidy continue, especially if the deficiency creates a health hazard. If the unit fails because of a tenant -caused deficiency and the action against the tenant, This may cost you more in the long run than to just do the repair and bill the tenant for your cost.

Under the Voucher Program, rent can be increased with a 60-day notice to the tenant up to payment standard plus the sanctioned increased by the rent board, Any owner can request to revise the rent on a unit with proper notice at any time as long as they are clear on fact that any increased will be subject to comparability as discussed below.

The fundamental thing to remember regarding this matter is that the Housing Authority has no jurisdiction over lease enforcement issues. Only the tenant and owner sign the lease and the SFHA executes a HAP contract with the owner and tenant are complying with their obligation under the program regulation. Only the owner has the ability to move for violating conditions of the lease. We can only take actions against the tenant’s for infractions against the Section 8 Program.

Moreover, even if we take action against a tenant for violating their Program obligations, once we have taken the subsidy away, you are still left with having to evict the tenant just like any other private market tenancy.

The Housing Assistance Payments Contract (HAP) contract is the legally binding document witch permits the SFHA to pay a subsidy on behalf of the tenant. The San Francisco Housing Authority (SHFA) enters into a HAP contract with the owner once an owner has agreed to rent a unit to a tenant and the unit has passed a Housing Quality Standards (HQS) inspection. The HAP delincates the owner’s responsibilities under the Section 8 Program and the terms of the SFHA’s obligations to the owner. As long as the tenant continues to receive a subsidy and lives int the unit, the contractual relationship continues.

Eash month, by cashing the HAP check, the owner certifies that the unit meets HQS and the tenant resides tn the unit. Should HQS fail, the owner shall have a period of time to correct any deficiency or face abatement of the subsidy for failure to respond. If the tenant vacates the unit, the subsidy ends and the HAP contract is terminate. HAP can only be paid while a tenant is residing in the unit. Should abatement continue for six months, the HAP contract shall be terminated.

Only the SFHA may terminate a HAP contract.

If an owner wishes to terminate a relationship with the SFHA, they may do so only by terminating the lease agreement for cause as outlined under the rent Ordinance of the city and county of San Francisco. Once the lease ends, the HAP contract automatically terminates, However, if the HAP terminates, the lease does not automatically terminate. Except for voluntary termination by the tenant, an owner can only terminate the lease for just cause.

It should be understood that the SFHA relationship with the owner exists solely as a means of providing the subsidy to the tenant. For an owner to want to terminate the SFHA relationship but not the tenant relationship is tantamount to terminating the tenancy since the tenant will not be able to afford the full unit rent without the subsidy, In the private market, terminating the relationship with the SFHA would be the equivalent of terminate the actual tenancy. This is why you cannot terminate a HAP contract but must terminate the lease agreement in order for the SFHA relationship to end.

The lease agreement between the owner and the tenant is the legal document that binds each party to a pre-determined set of rules and obligations. The SFHA has historically provided a model lease as a service to owners who did not have a clear understanding of what regulatory language belonged in the lease for an assisted tenancy. In 1996, HUD issued a lease Addendum which cleared the way choose to use their own lease must sign the HUD lease Addendum in order for the HAP to be executed. Refusal to sign the lease Addendum is equal to refusing to rent the unit to the subsidized tenant. The HUD lease Addendum is required by federal regulations.

The HUD lease Addendum contains all pertinent regulatory language required for assisted tenancies including the tenant and owner obligations as set forth by the Section 8 Program. The HUD lease addendum prevails whenever there are any conflicts between the lease addendum and the owner leases. You will find that the HUD lease Addendum. Is similar to HUD model lease which owners are no longer required to use, but still abide by its regulatory provisions.

Rents are established by negotiating the initial rent amount with individual property owners for all rental units under the Section 8 Program. It is responsibility of the SFHA to ensure that what the owner is asking for is reasonable and comparable to unassisted rental units in the areThe SFHA contract with a local market survey company which provides existing market rates for all San Francisco neighborhoods. Each year, HUD publishes the Fair Markets Rents (FMR) for all jurisdictions across the country. These FRMs become the basis for determining what the SFHA can pay as subsides on behalf of tenants inn San Francisco , The catch is that irrespective of the FMR, all rent must meet comparability.

Thus, while the SFHA may have a 3 bedroom payment standard of $2337.00, it does not mean that every 3-bedroom unit will command this price as of the publication date of that price. Areas, neighborhoods and units in San Francisco vary a great deal and command an array of rents based on these differences. Inspectors work in these areas and neighborhoods all day long and with the market data have a good command of the rental market. After an owner sets a price for a unit, the inspector will inspector will inspect the quality of the unit, its location and amenities before agreeing to a rent amount, If the owner has set their price too high, a revised offer will be made which can be supported by comparability data in our office.

Owners are free to reject any offer at anytime and rent the unit to another family. However, it is the SFHA’s policy to offer the owner what is reasonable and comparable for the unit based on our analysis. An owner is also free to provide the SFHA with comparability information that can be verified in support of their request rent,

Once a rent established, rent increased are regulated by the rent Ordinance for Voucher contracts.

For Voucher tenancies, owners must notify the tenant 60 days in advance of a desired rent increase, The limit on rent increases for Voucher participants is the same as the limit under the rent ordinance once the unit rent reaches the payment standard for the family bedroom size. The SFHA sets the payment each year after HUD publishes the FMRs. Generally, they can be anywhere from 90 to 100% of the FMR. for units with rents below the payment standard, the rent increase is not limited by the payment standard and, if comparability is not met, the SFHA will limit the owner’s increase to a rent that is supported by comparability documentation, It may exceed the locally permitted adjustment percentage, but not the payment standard.

This should not be confused with currently occupied units where families reside before receiving assistance by the Section 8 Program. The SFHA is able to renegotiate the rent for an occupied unit for purpose of attaching assistance to it under the section 8 program. Once the rent is renegotiated and HAP contract is executed, then the restriction on future rent increases kick in as outlined above.

Families in the Section 8 Program are issued Vouchers based on the occupancy guidelines of the administrative plan of the Section 8 Program, Generally, it states that no more than 2 person may occupy a bedroom and children over 3 years of age are entitled to a separate bedroom from a parent. As household compositions change, their Voucher size changes to reflect the new family size, in case where the unit is larger than the family’s Vouchers bedroom size, if the family can afford to pay the difference between the unit rent and their subsidy, they are entitled to remain in the unit. The decision, however, rests with the family,

When a family rents a unit, their assistance is based on the lower of their Voucher size or the unit size. Thus, a family with a one bedroom Voucher moving into a studio unit would receive a subsidy based on the studio payment standard conversely, if they had a two-bedroom unit, they would be limited to a subsidy based on the two-bedroom payment standard.

The household listed on the lease agreement moves as one unit. Any lingering tenants are considered to be trespassing if they do not vacate when the head of household for the assistance vacates. If you choose, you may allow the person(s) to remain in the unit but they will be responsible for the full rent,

Initial rents are never established based on the residents in the unit. Rents are based on quality, location, size, amenities, ect, but never on the number of occupants. Thus, any changes in the household composition do not warrant a change in the rent.

The SFHA Section 8 Program does not evict tenants. Its role is simply to provide housing assistance for low income families. It is the owner’s right and responsibility to evict a tenant, According to the HUD lease Addendum, an owner may only evict a tenant by instituting a court action. Proper cause must be given and copy of the summons must be provided to the SFHA, on August 30, 1998, the Section 8 Program came under the auspices of the rent ordinance for lease terminations. This meant that for all evictions and lease terminations, owner were required to cite one of the fourteen just causes.

If an owner wished to rent a unit to a section 8 family, they can begin by contacting Silvia Leypon at 715-6996 or going to www.sfha.org and listing the property with the Section 8 Program directly. We provide all tenant participants a list of these units and they contact owners directly if interested. Owners are free to and encouraged to screen prospective applicants as they would any other applicants.

Once they have deemed the tenant acceptable, the tenant can provide the owner with a Request for Tenancy Approval (RTA) that they complete and sign along with the tenant. The tenant returns the RTA to our office and an inspector contacts the owner directly to schedule a unit Housing Quality Standard inspection. If any deficicncies are found, the owner will have an opportunity to correct them before the tenancy can be approved.

Once the unit is approved, the lease, lease addendum and HAP contract are drawn up, signed and returned to the SFHA with proof of ownership, We review the returned documents and submit them for payment, this process can take a few days or few weeks, depending on how quickly documents are returned, Owners are encourage to remain in contract with the inspector to answer any question or clarify during the lease-up process.

DW

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