The Chicago Housing Authority (CHA) is currently seeking to expand its program outside areas of poverty of minority concentration called Mobility Areas. These areas are defined as Community Areas where less than 20% of its families have income below poverty level and there is a below median reported violent crime count (normalized by the area’s total population). Some areas with improving poverty and violent crime rates along with job opportunity clusters are also designated as Mobility Areas.
Landlords with units located in one of the Mobility Areas, may choose to market their property with such designation. The following steps summarize the process to become a successful HCV landlord:
1. Attend Owner Briefing
These two hour sessions are encouraged and offered exclusively for property owners, landlords and managers interested in participating in the Program. You can expect the briefing to cover topics such as:
HCV Program policies and procedures
How to list your property
Key provisions of the HAP Contract and Tenancy Addendum
Participating property owners rights
Rental rate determination
Property management tips
Additionally, CHA recommends that current HCV landlords, property owners and managers attend these briefings periodically to refresh their knowledge about HCV Program operations and administration as well as receive information about recent changes to the Program.
2. Market your property
After attending a briefing and having a full understanding of the benefits of the HCV Program, the next step would be to advertise your property (or properties) to potential tenants.
There are several resources available for landlords to successfully market their property, here are the most successful strategies:
Post flyers at HCV Program Offices
Contact a real estate agent
Online Classified ad sites such as rent.com or Craiglist
Signage on and around the property
The amount of rent you charge for your property is one of the most important decisions you’ll make in this process, and as such, you should gather as much information as you can before you set the price. Some key factors to consider when making your decision are: comparable units, condition of the unit, and amenities.
3. Complete and submit a Request for Tenancy Approval
The Request for Tenancy Approval (RTA) is a required HUD form that the family provides to the owner. The owner must complete it with information regarding the unit (size, rent, address, and utility responsibilities). The RTA provides the CHA with the necessary information to calculate rent portions and the drafting of the Housing Assistance Payment Contract.
The RTA is not a lease; however, it’s required that a landlord complete the RTA when it has been determined they are willing to enter into an assisted lease with a family.
4. Pass Housing Quality Standards CHA owner eligibility screening (HQS) Inspection
After receiving the RTA, CHA will screen all owners to determine eligibility for participation in the HCV Program. The screening process includes the following:
Criminal background check
Verification of current property taxes
Affidavit of Ownership
Management Authorization (if applicable)
5. Property Inspection
Before a unit can be approved for the HCV Program, it is required to pass an initial inspection This inspection ensures the unit has adequate living space, has a sound structure, habitability systems, and presents no conditions that endanger the family’s health and safety.
The inspections are ruled and regulated by the federal health and safety standards known as Housing Quality Standards (HQS), the CHA’s Administrative Plan, and the Municipal Code of Chicago, as well as other applicable local codes.
Remember, the unit must be rent-ready (including having all utilities turned on and operating safely). If the inspection does not pass, owners are allowed 14 days to make repairs and call CHA to schedule a re-inspection. If the unit does not pass the re-inspection, CHA will cancel the moving process for this unit.
Check out the Top 10 Section 8 HQS Inspection Fail Items to give you an idea of the items being inspected.
6. Accept CHA rent offer
The HUD requires all housing authorities to determine an appropriate rent amount for all properties either entering or returning to the HCV Program. It is best that the rental rate be approved prior to the tenant taking possession of the unit.
To determine what to offer the property owner, CHA considers:
Asking Rent (as established on the RTA form)
Rent Reasonableness Study (aka Market Rent)
Rent Burden (amount of rent that can be afforded by tenant)
The resulting calculations, ultimately determine the Contract Rent
CHA will contact the owner with a rent offer, which is based on the rent of comparable unassisted units within a 1 mile radius of that have been leased within one year as well as participant affordability. If the rent is not accepted within 2 days of the offer, CHA will cancel the move.
The participant, not CHA, will most likely be responsible for paying any approved rent increase amount.
7. Execute lease and Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) contract
After the landlord has selected a HCV Program family, the unit has passed inspection and CHA has determined the rent, the next step is to execute all required documents. This includes the HAP contract, lease agreement, and Tenancy Addendum.
The HAP is the rental subsidy CHA pays directly to the property owner. In some cases, the only payment they will receive will be the HAP from CHA. In other cases, the owner will receive the HAP from CHA as well as a portion of the rent directly from the tenant.
After passing inspection, a housing specialist will contact the property owner and voucher holder to establish a move-in date.
When the tenant takes possession and the contract is signed, you will begin to receive your HAP and any tenant-paid portion of the rent. CHA pays its portion via direct deposit, but you are responsible for collecting any additional rent from the participant.
Prior to the tenant taking possession, ALL of the following MUST occur:
Unit passes inspection by CHA
Rent amount is approved by property owner
Lease and HAP Contract are executed
8. Comply with HUD and CHA’s rules and regulations
There are a number of policies and procedures designed to help you make the most of your participation.
Participant Re-Examinations: Every 2 years, CHA reviews the household income and family composition to determine the family-paid portion of rent
Change of Ownership/Management: A property owner may not assign the HAP Contact to a new owner without the prior consent of CHA. Therefore, property owners must notify CHA. The same applies to a change in Property Management.
Rent Increase Requests: CHA must process and approve any rent increase or changes in utility responsibilities
Ongoing Inspections: Program regulations require that any unit receiving a rental subsidy meets the Housing Quality Standards
Congratulations! You are now an official HCV Program property owner! By participating in the program, you are fulfilling the need to provide quality, safe and affordable housing for individuals and families living in all of the 77 areas of Chicago.
Managing a property in the HCV Program is an ongoing process, and having a successful Chicago rental property requires a lot of time, experience and knowledge. Let us save you the time, effort, and frustration that comes with gaining that experience. As a full service Chicago Property Management firm, our team is responsible for taking care of ALL aspects of managing your rental(s).
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