Frequently Asked Questions
Questions for Applicants
I've just applied, how long will I have to wait for help?
There is not a simple answer to this question because an applicant's wait will depend upon various items, date & time of application, type of program, number of bedrooms, how much turnover, etc..
Where am I on the waiting lists?
The Housing Authority does not give out numbers on the waiting list, simply because your position fluctuates as new applicants are added and others are taken off the waiting lists. Your number would not tell you how much longer you would have to wait in any case.
Do I have to be a county resident to be assisted?
No. However, the Housing Authority does give a preference to those persons on the waiting list who are living, going to school, or working in Tulare County.
I am a person with disabilities, will I get housing more quickly?
Persons with disabilities will be housed before single persons under the age of 62. We do keep a separate waiting list of physically disabled applicants for handicap accessible units we own or manage.
Do you have emergency housing or emergency assistance?
No. Federally subsidized housing is not an entitlement program like other forms of public assistance. That is, even though you may be eligible for, and in need of housing assistance, there are not enough funds to assist everyone who qualifies. This is why the waiting lists and the wait times are so long.
I have a landlord who is willing to rent to me under the Section 8 program. Can I get a Voucher immediately?
The Housing Authority does not give a preference to applicants who are "in-place", meaning they are living in a unit where the owner accepts Section 8. The Section 8 wait list is a wait for funding not for housing.
I'm homeless, can you help me?
Unfortunately, the Housing Authority does not have emergency housing or subsidy available. We will refer you to agencies in the area that provide emergency shelter and assistance.
My family is getting evicted, how can you help?
Again, unfortunately, the Housing Authority does not operate emergency housing or emergency subsidy. We were established to provide affordable rental housing. Additionally, we are required to provide housing assistance to families according to date & time of application.
Questions About Section 8 for Property Owners
What are the main benefits of the program to the landlord?
Guaranteed prompt payment of part of the rent each month; decreased vacancy rates and delinquencies; reduced turnovers; free annual inspections by housing professionals to help landlords stay informed about the condition of their property and help prevent deterioration; greater ability of families to pay an affordable rent.
What kind of paperwork is involved when a landlord decides to participate?
Once you have reached an agreement with a potential candidate, you will need to complete a Request for Tenancy Approval form. This form requests basic information, such as the address of the unit, the monthly rental fee and the utilities the tenant will be required to pay. You will also be required to negotiate a lease agreement with the potential client. After your unit has passed inspection, you will be required to sign a contract with the Housing Authority. Every year, you will be required to go through a recertification process. Your lease will not be binding until after the unit has passed inspection and you have signed a contract with the Housing Authority.
What kind of housing is eligible?
Any type of rental housing that meets the Section 8 property standards is eligible (single-family homes to high-rise apartments, located anywhere in Tulare County).
Who are the tenants participating in the program?
Program participants include low-income families and elderly, disabled or handicapped individuals whose incomes do not exceed established limits. The program assists a broad range of people. You, as a landlord, are encouraged to use your normal tenant-screening procedures. In fact, the Housing Authority is not allowed to screen Section 8 participants, and we encourage you to do so. We are required to give you the family's current address and landlord information in order for you to check. The landlord and tenant agree on the rental amount. Landlords should discuss the rent with prospective tenants to be sure it is within the family's budget. The rent amount cannot be more than comparable market rents.
How does the landlord receive the full rent payment?
The landlord will receive two (2) separate payments each month. The Housing Authority will make a housing assistance payment each month. The tenant will pay the rest of the rent directly to the landlord.
How much can a landlord charge in rent for a Section 8 unit?
Landlords can charge a “Comparable” rent relative to the open market. This is called “Rent Reasonableness”. Comparable means similar in size, age, amenities, and market area within a community. On the MTW Demonstration Program a family would receive a flat subsidy, and it is up to the family to decide if they can afford to pay the difference.
On the traditional HUD Section 8 program, families are not allowed to pay more than 40% of their income toward rent, including utility payments when they first rent a unit. “Rent Reasonableness” still applies, but the family’s maximum would depend on their individual circumstances. The higher their income, the higher their rent limit. A landlord should call the family’s eligibility worker to discuss the family’s limit taking into consideration what utilities the family would have to pay and whether appliances were gas or electric.
How much can a landlord ask for a security deposit?
The program limits the tenant's deposit to one month's contract rent. The only time a landlord could have a higher deposit is if the tenant already lives in the unit and has paid a higher amount.
Can a landlord's present tenant stay in-place and still get assistance?
Yes, they can, if the tenant is eligible, the dwelling qualifies, and the rent is within program limits. The tenant will have to fill out an application and wait their turn for funding on the waiting list.
What are the landlord's rights and responsibilities with participation in the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher program?
The landlord's rights are the same as those in a normal tenant/landlord relationship. The landlord selects and screens the tenant with whom a lease is signed. Owners must understand that the Housing Authority does not screen the families on the program. The landlord is responsible for managing and maintaining the unit. Tenants violating their lease are subject to eviction by the landlord. Eviction notice must state the cause of the eviction. The landlord only has to give the Housing Authority copies of any eviction notices served on the family. The landlord is responsible for assuring that only the approved assisted family members are occupying the unit, or the family will be violating the terms of the lease with the owner.
Does a landlord have to renew the contract every year?
If the Landlord chooses not to renew the contract, a State of California Supreme Court Ruling in the case of Wasatch Property Management v. Syriah Degrate requires that any Landlord under the Section 8 Program must give a 90-day notice to the TENANT if they do not want to renew a contract. This does not apply to terminations of the lease for cause. The landlord must provide the Housing Authority a copy of the 90-day notice that was served. We would then recertify the family to move 60 days prior to the anniversary date.
If for any reason there is a delay in making this decision not to renew, such as if we cannot agree on a rent increase, you would then have to serve a 90-day notice and we would have to extend the current contract until the tenant could be given the full 90 days. Again, this does not apply to terminations for cause, or “Mutual Lease Terminations” agreed to by both the tenant and landlord.
If the landlord's expenses increase, can the rent be adjusted?
Contract rents can be increased on the contract anniversary date, if requested by the landlord, but may increase the tenant's share of rent, and cannot exceed comparable market units. Requests must be in writing 60 days prior to the contract anniversary date.
The owner must maintain the units in accordance with Housing Quality Standards (HQS); certify that to the best of their knowledge, only the approved family members are currently occupying the unit; inform the Housing Authority about any known lead-based paint in the unit. The contract rent must not exceed rents charged by the owner for other comparable unassisted units and the amounts specified by the Housing Authority must be the only payments received as rent for the unit.
Owners do not have the right to participate in the Section 8 program and may be barred for:
- Violation of obligations under a HAP contract
- Committing fraud in connection with any federal housing program
- Engaging in drug trafficking
- A history of non-compliance with HQS
- Not paying state or local real estate taxes, fines or assessments
- A history or practice of renting units that fail local or state housing codes
Courtesy referral listing:
Landlords are encouraged to call the Housing Authority office nearest the location of any of their units that are vacant or about to be vacant. A list is kept by each office and distributed to families looking for units under these programs. It would be helpful to be called again when the unit is rented.