- What is the Section 8 Program?
The Section 8 Program is a federal rent subsidy program that assists low-income households with monthly rental payments.
- How does Section 8 work?
The Cocoa Housing Authority administers funds received from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and distributes them, in the form of Section Housing Choice Vouchers, to eligible families and individuals. A voucher allows program participants to rent housing that meets their needs at a price they can afford.
- How does a Section 8 Voucher work?
All eligible families are required to pay at least 30% (but no more than 40% initially) of their monthly-adjusted income toward rent and utilities directly to the landlord. The Cocoa Housing Authority pays the landlord the difference between the Contract Rent and the tenant's portion. A tenant must find housing within 60 days or risk losing the voucher.
- How is an eligible Section 8 program participant selected?
The Cocoa Housing Authority reviews the eligibility of the participant(s) based on household income and family composition. The landlord is responsible for screening occupants of the rental unit. This screening process must be in accordance with federal, state, and local equal opportunity laws.
- My house is brand new (just constructed) - does it still need to be inspected?
Yes, once the Request for Tenancy Approval has been processed and approved - the unit must be inspected. All units subsidized by the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher Program must be inspected to verify that all aspects of the unit meet the minimum Housing Quality Standards, regardless of whether or not the unit is a new construction.
- What happens if my tenant moves in before the unit passes inspection?
The Housing Assistance Payment Contract cannot be executed until the contract unit passes inspection. Therefore, no payments will be made until the unit has passed inspection and all required paperwork had been received and approved by the Cocoa Housing Authority. If you elected to allow the tenant to move in prior to this passed inspection, you will have to negotiate and collect rent independently of the Cocoa Housing Authority.
- What documents should I review/collect prior to completing the request for tenancy approval?
All clients eligible to transfer to a new unit should have a current Housing Choice Voucher in their possession. You should verify that the Voucher has NOT yet expired and that the bedroom size on the voucher corresponds to the bedroom size that the client states they are eligible for. In addition, you should have the potential tenant complete any rental application and reference information that you require. Once you have determined that the client is suitable for your unit, then complete and submit the Request for Tenancy Approval.
- How long will it take for the Cocoa Housing Authority to approve/disapprove the request for tenancy approval?
Typically, the Cocoa Housing Authority will notify the tenant of the status of the RFTA within ten (10) days.
- How long will it take for the unit to be inspected after the RFTA is approved?
Typically, the Cocoa Housing Authority will inspect the proposed unit and notify the owner/tenant of the outcome within fifteen (15) days.
- How do I know how much rent to charge my tenant - if I have not yet received official notification from the Cocoa Housing Authority of the client's rent portion?
When a tenant receives the voucher from their Housing Counselor, they are instructed to pay their TTP (Total Tenant Payment) until they receive an official letter from the Housing Authority of their new rent portion. This amount should be notated at the bottom of the client's Housing Choice Voucher (which should be reviewed by you - prior to completing the Request for Tenancy Approval). If there is any discrepancy, the tenant's Housing Counselor can be contacted for clarification.
- What happens if the Cocoa Housing Authority terminates the client's assistance in the middle of the lease agreement?
When the Cocoa Housing Authority terminates the housing assistance payment due to the client's non-compliance with program regulations, then the lease agreement is terminated -regardless of whether or not the lease has naturally expired. The CHA may NOT continue payments on behalf of a client who has not complied with the rules of the program.
- What happens if my tenant receives a termination letter?
If your tenant is issued an "Intent to Terminate Assistance" letter- then the owner will also receive a letter to notify them that the agency intends to terminate the client's assistance and the date that the termination is to be effective. Once a client receives a termination letter, they have the right to request an Informal Hearing to dispute the agency's intention. If your tenant requests an Informal Hearing regarding a pending termination, you will be notified via a copy of the hearing appointment letter. The agency will continue to make housing assistance payments until the results of the Informal Hearing have been finalized.
- What if my tenant violates the lease agreement?
The individual landlord/owner is responsible for enforcing the terms/conditions of the lease agreement. However, the landlord should always provide the agency with copies of notices sent to the tenant regarding lease violations (7 Day Notices, 3 Day Notices, Warnings, etc.). In general, a Section 8 Participant should be treated no differently than any other unassisted tenant. If our client is committing serious/repeated violations of the lease - then the landlord should enforce the lease in accordance with Florida law (providing copies of all paperwork to the Cocoa Housing Authority). The Cocoa Housing Authority can act as an arbitrator to help resolve problems, and upon written request, the Housing Counselor will counsel the family regarding a repeated problem the landlord may be experiencing with a tenant only after the landlord has personally tried to resolve the matter first himself. The property owner may retain the security deposit for the amount of unpaid rent and any damages caused to the unit. Notify the CHA of any outstanding balances.
- What if I want to break the tenant's lease before it expires?
The Cocoa Housing Authority does not allow tenants and landlords to "mutually rescind" a lease that is in its initial term (first year). If the landlord wants to break the lease because the tenant is violating the lease - then he/she should proceed with lease enforcement (up to and including eviction) in accordance with Florida Law. Cocoa Housing discourages landlords from "mutually rescinding" leases to avoid lease enforcement. This practice prevents the agency from being aware the client seems to be having compliance issues and transfers a client to a new unit (without addressing the problems/issues at the previous unit). If the landlord is selling the property, the HAP Contract may be transferred to the new owner (upon Cocoa Housing Authority approval).
- When can I request a rent increase? - How much can I ask for?
The owner is required to notify the Cocoa Housing Authority, in writing, at least sixty (60) days before any change in the amount of rent to the owner is scheduled to go into effect. Any requested change in the rent to the owner will be subject to rent reasonable requirements. How much of a rent increase will be approved is contingent upon the rent reasonableness results.
- What are the terms of the lease?
A written lease is required. The first lease must be for a 12-month period. After that, the landlord and tenant can agree to any term length. However, the tenant will still be required to undergo recertification for eligibility every 12 months.
- How do I request a rent increase for an HCV tenant?
During the first year of the lease, the rent cannot be increased. After the first year, you can request an increase annually, at the time of the annual reexamination, with a 60-day notice to the tenant and CHA. The increase is subject to rent reasonableness and CHA approval.
- How does the Violence Against Women Act of 205 (VAWA) affect my right to evict?
Vawa gives protection from eviction for a victim of domestic violence, dating violence, or stalking. While you cannot evict the victim, you may be able to evict the perpetrator of the act if that person is a member of the household.
- Can I rent a different size unit to an HCV participant other than what their voucher says they are approved for?
Yes, participants are approved for units based on their income and payment standard approved, not the actual size of the unit. As long as the unit is found affordable for their income, rent is found reasonable for our area, and passes inspections, we will assist.
- Who is notified of the initial inspection?
The tenant is contacted to schedule an inspection.
- Who is responsible for a unit failing HQS for "non-entry"?
The tenant is responsible for allowing access for the Annual HQS Inspections. They are made aware that it is their responsibility to have the head of household and /or spouse present during the inspection.