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Chicago Property Management Blog

What Are Abatements And How To Avoid Them

While a Section 8 tenant resides in the unit, Housing Authorities will perform inspections to make sure that Housing Quality Standards (HQS) are being upheld. Inspections can be scheduled annually if there are children under 6 years old residing in the unit, or bi-annually if not. 

Once the first inspection has been conducted, landlords have between 21 and 30 calendar days  to correct issues and pass the second inspection. If the deficiencies are not corrected up to HQS standards, Housing Assistance Payments (HAPs) will be suspended by the Housing Authority; this is what’s commonly known as abatement. All HAP suspensions will be put into effect by the Housing Authority on the first day of the month that follows the end of the specified correction period.

It's important to mention that any abated amount will not be retroactively paid by any Housing Authority. Thus, landlords need to correct deficiencies and schedule a reinspection as soon as possible, to lift the abatement status and resume payments. The abated amounts are prorated daily, so every day counts. 

During an abatement period, the family is still in charge of covering their portion of the rent during the suspension. The suspension itself cannot be used as justification for eviction, nor is the owner permitted to demand payment from the family for the amounts that have been suspended.

Each Housing Authority has a slightly different process regarding scheduling inspections. The Chicago Housing Authority (CHA) requires a $75 reinspection fee to be paid. They schedule a new date within 48 hours of receiving payment. The Housing Authority of Cook County, on the other hand, does not require the landlord to pay any fees. Smaller Housing Authorities may have different requirements, so we recommend consulting with them directly.  

The Housing Authority will provide the participant with moving papers once the suspension period has started. The Housing Authority will not take away the participant's relocation papers if the unit subsequently passes inspection prior to the expiration of the HAP contract unless the participant is currently subject to a binding lease arrangement. 

No more than 60 calendar days may pass between HAP suspensions. If the owner makes the required adjustments and reports them to the Housing Authority before the HAP contract's expiration date, the Housing Authority may overturn the termination notice, provided that the family is still dwelling in the unit and desires to do so, and the unit passes an inspection. If the family has already received a voucher and a Request for Tenancy Approval (RTA) and still wish to move, they are not required to remain in the unit.

Housing Authorities must give the landlord a 30-day notice before terminating the HAP contract. Once the termination has been implemented, the decision is final, and the landlord cannot appeal it. Hence, it’s important to comply with HQS standards to continue being in good standing with the Section 8 program. 

Attention property owners: Do you own rental units that accept Section 8 vouchers? Are you struggling to keep up with the complex rules and regulations around the Section 8 program? Managing Section 8 tenants requires specialized knowledge and expertise. The stakes are high if you get it wrong.

Don't go it alone - hire an experienced property manager.

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