For Renters

Affordable Rental Housing Frequently Asked Questions

Where can I find affordable housing?

We strongly recommend you visit the Rental Housing Search. You can also view the Housing Resource Guide on this website. These resources attempt to identify all affordable rental housing in each community throughout the state, along with apartment sizes, addresses and contact information. The Rental Housing Search attempts to provide a listing of all rental housing currently available for leasing. While the catalogue lists only the affordable rental housing stock regardless of current availability.

When do I report an income change?

If the income has increased, the increase must be at least a $200 increase per month before you are required to report it. If your income has decreased, you should report it anytime this occurs.

Do I have to report if my household composition changes?

Yes, based on program requirements.

Do I have to be recertified annually?

Tax Credit and HOME require annual recertification. Section 8 Project Based and Tenant Based assistance also require annual recertification, as well as additional recertifications if your income or family size changes throughout the year.

What is the time frame for the return of my security deposit?

After the lease has been terminated and the tenant has moved out, leaving a forwarding address, the landlord has two weeks to either return the deposit or provide a written statement showing the specific reason for withholding the deposit.

Can the landlord enter my unit when I’m not at home?

The rule of thumb is the landlord is required to give tenants 24 hours notice prior to entering their unit. However, if there is an emergency the landlord may enter the unit at his/her discretion.

Is there a “one stop shopping” location that covers all types of affordable housing?

Unfortunately the answer here is “no.” The local Public Housing Authority (PHA), if there is one in the community, will typically have information on any public housing, Housing Choice Vouchers, other affordable housing programs in which they are involved or which they administer, and a listing of landlords that participate in their programs. There are often other privately owned properties that offer Section 8 Rental Assistance that will likely not be on the PHA listing. We strongly recommend you consult the Rental Housing Search on this website. This resource attempts to provide a listing of all rental housing currently available in each community throughout the state, along with addresses and contact information.

What is the difference between “rental assistance” and “limited rents”?

Federal affordable housing programs tend to fall under two broad categories, those offering “rental assistance” and those offering “limited rents.” Rental assistance typically refers to programs where the government has contracted with a landlord for a specific rent level. The renter pays a portion of the rent, usually based on a percentage of their adjusted income, and the government pays the remainder of the contract rent. Most often, the renter’s portion of the rent is limited to no more than 30% of their adjusted income. Examples of this type of program include HUD Section 8, USDA Section 515, and others. Programs offering limited rents typically place a ceiling on the rents a landlord may charge for an apartment. These ceilings are normally tied to some measurement of the average or median income in a community. The landlord contracts with the government to charge rents that are at or below that level. Normally the renter pays the entire rent in these cases, but the rent is often less than the prevailing conventional rent for an apartment of similar size, age, amenities, condition, etc.

How is rent determined?

Rent is determined using income, family size and other factors. For further information click on your category to links to more information:

In Standard HOME and Housing Tax Credit properties, the rents are fixed at a rate lower that the market.

What is the difference between "Project Based Rental Assistance" and "Tenant Based Rental Assistance?"

Both types of HUD Section 8 provide rental assistance or rental subsidies. In both cases, the government enters into a contract with a landlord to guarantee a certain “contract rent” for a housing unit – either a house or an apartment. To income-qualify for the program, the tenant must not earn more than a specified amount adjusted for family size and meet other criteria for participation in the program. The tenant then will pay 30% of his income toward the combined total of rent and utilities, and the government will pay the remainder of the “contract” rent. Project-based Section 8 applies to apartments at a specific location. Any applicant for these apartments must qualify for the program and will receive rental assistance if they qualify for such. When the tenant moves, the subsidy contract remains with the apartment, hence “project-based.” Housing Choice Vouchers are tenant-based. That means that they are issued for a specific tenant rather than tied to a particular apartment. The tenant can then seek out the housing they desire and request the local housing authority to contract with the property owner for rental assistance. The tenant contributions and most other aspects of the voucher are similar to those in the project-based program.

Contact us if you have further questions.