Do I have to include utilities in the rent payment for the Housing Choice Voucher Program?
No. As a landlord, you can decide who is responsible for paying utilities. If a tenant is responsible for paying utilities, this must be indicated on the Request for Tenancy Approval and in the lease. Utilities must be individually metered in order to be approved by the voucher program.
Does my property have to be pre-qualified to be included in the Housing Choice Voucher Program?
No. The St. Louis Park Housing Authority does not pre-qualify properties. Each time a landlord rents to a voucher holder, their property/unit will be screened for affordability and an inspection will take place. Typically, the Housing Choice Voucher inspection does not have as strict of standards as the city inspection that is needed for a landlord's rental license.
Does the Housing Authority cover any damages left after a family has moved out?
No. A landlord that participates in the Housing Choice Voucher Program would handle any damages left by a tenant the same way they would handle those from an unsubsidized tenant. If a tenant leaves your property not in good standing or has been evicted, they can or will lose their voucher. Anytime a landlord issues a lease violation to a tenant, it is recommended that they copy the Housing Authority they work with and follow up with them.
How do I make my property eligible for the Housing Choice Voucher Program?
There is no official certification process to be a Housing Choice Voucher landlord. A Housing Authority establishes policies and procedure, which are based on federal laws and regulations, they must follow to add any unit or property to the program. Contact the St. Louis Park Housing Authority at 952.924.2579 for additional information.
The rent I need to charge is higher than the Housing Authority will allow, and I can't afford to lower my rent. The family has offered to pay the difference, is that ok?
No. That would be considered fraud. Any payments between a landlord and tenant need to be disclosed in your lease. The portion of rent the tenant is responsible for is determined by the Housing Authority. In this case, the landlord would need to tell the family they are not able to work with them.
What is an appropriate response when someone asks if I accept housing vouchers?
The St. Louis Park Housing Authority encourages landlords to have specific written criteria for their tenants, and to consistently adhere to it. When a voucher holder applies, a typical response from a landlord could include, “I am willing to work with the voucher program, as long as the applicant is able to pass my screening criteria.” If you are a landlord that works with the program regularly, including information in your marketing materials such as "Rental Assistance Accepted" will let voucher holders know you are willing to work with them.
What process should a landlord follow if they decide to rent to a voucher holder?
A landlord should screen voucher holders like any other tenants. While the screening process is taking place, a landlord may fill out a Request for Tenancy Approval (RTA) form. The RTA lets the Housing Authority (HA) know about the unit the tenant is wanting to rent. The tenant is responsible for returning the form, along with an unexecuted lease, to the HA by the 15th of the month in order to be assisted for the following month. We encourage tenants not to leave this form with landlords due to the time-sensitive nature of the program.
Once the HA receives the RTA form, the unit is determined to be affordable or not based on the agency’s payment standards and the family’s income. After the unit is determined to be affordable, the HA will contact the landlord to schedule and complete a Housing Quality Standards (HQS) inspection. The inspection must pass by the first of the month. A unit cannot be included in the program if it does not pass the HQS inspection.
The landlord is required to fill out a W9, sign a HAP contract and submit the executed lease to the HA. At that point, the landlord can be paid based on the HA’s practices.