The role of the landlord in the Section 8 voucher program is to provide decent, safe & sanitary housing to a tenant at a reasonable rent. In return the Chelmsford Housing Authority will send the landlord “Housing Assistance Payments” (HAP) as long as the dwelling unit continues to comply with the contract signed with the Housing Authority, including the housing quality standards, and the lease signed with the tenant.
A property owner does not have to be formally approved in order to become a Section 8 landlord. The Section 8 voucher holder will find a suitable apartment and will give the landlord a Landlord Packet.
This is a packet of forms to be completed by the landlord and includes, most importantly, the “Request for Tenancy Approval” which will provide the housing authority with information regarding the unit to be leased. Based on this information the housing authority determines if the rent is reasonable for the area and affordable for the tenant.
Listing your apartment
The Chelmsford Housing Authority maintains a list of available apartments for our voucher holders. If you wish to list your apartment with us, please phone our Section 8 department.
We also suggest that you advertise your apartment in the local papers and include the wording “Section 8 accepted”. This way you will also advertise to voucher holders from other housing authorities who are looking to move into the area.
The Lease up process for Section 8
Screening the tenant
- The landlord is responsible for the screening and selection of the tenants. The housing authority does not screen for tenant behavior or suitability. The housing authority determines eligibility for the Section 8 program based on income, citizenship status. A criminal background check is also run on each adult member of the family.Please note: in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts a prospective tenant cannot be discriminated against because they are receiving public assistance or a housing subsidy.
Landlord Information to Housing Authority
- After agreeing to lease an apartment to a voucher holder, the landlord must complete documents in the Landlord Packet and provide the following:
- Proof of ownership (a copy of a deed, tax bill or water bill)
- Lead Certificate or Lead Compliance Certificate (if tenant family includes a child under the age of six)
- Copy of lease signed with the tenant.
Once the landlord information is received the housing authority will determine if the unit is eligible. The rent requested by the landlord will be assessed to see if it is reasonable for the area. A reasonable rent is defined as one that doesn’t exceed rent charged for comparable unassisted units in the same area.An affordability check will be done to assess whether the tenant can afford the rent requested. At time of initial lease up a tenant is required to pay a minimum of 30% of gross monthly adjusted income and no more than 40%.A major component of the affordability check is the Fair Market Rent or FMR. HUD publishes FMRs for each area annually. Any rent above the FMR is generally assigned to the tenant portion. In the case of a very low-income family, this could make the unit unaffordable.As affordability is determined on a case by case basis, please contact the Section 8 department for an individual assessment.
Housing Quality Standards (HQS) Inspection
- The next step in the eligibility process is the unit must be inspected and found to be in a decent, safe and sanitary condition. An HQS inspection will be conducted as soon as possible after all paperwork has been received and must pass this inspection before the tenant can move in.Please click on the following link for a list of the Housing Quality Standards.
Housing Quality Standards
Lease and Tenancy Addendum
- It is a requirement of the Section 8 program that the tenant and landlord execute a lease agreement. The lease is is a contract between the tenant and landlord and the Housing Authority is not a party to it. Generally the initial period of the lease is 12 months after which time it is assumed that the lease becomes a tenancy at will unless a new lease is executed between landlord and tenant for another 12 months.The HUD form, Tenancy Addendum must be attached to the lease by the housing authority after signing. It includes the tenancy requirements for the program, and as part of the lease the tenant has a right to enforce it. The Tenancy Addendum is also part of the Hap Contract.
- Once the unit has passed inspection, and been determined affordable and of reasonable rent, the Housing Authority will execute a HAP Contract with the landlord.The HAP contract details the program requirements and responsibilities of the landlord and housing authority under the Section 8 program. The tenancy addendum is also part of this contract.
- The landlord may collect a security deposit from the tenant, but this deposit may not exceed the amount of one month’s rent.The Chelmsford Housing Authority is not a party to the security deposit.
Housing Assistance Payments (HAP)
- HAP payments will begin from the first day of the lease, or the day after the unit passes inspection – whichever comes last. HAP payments are mailed out to landlords on the 1st day of the month.The final HAP payment will be paid for the last month that the tenant is residing in the unit.
Direct Deposit for HAP Payments
The Chelmsford Housing Authority is now offering the convenience of direct deposits for monthly rent payments to owners. This option allows owners to receive the payment directly into a bank account instead of waiting for the check to arrive in the mail.
If you are a current Section 8 landlord and are interested in receiving your payments directly into your bank account, it is necessary for you to complete an Authorization Agreement.
This agreement should be mailed to:
- Leased Housing Department
10 Wilson Street
Chelmsford, MA 01824
Please note: A copy of a voided check from your financial institution must be included.