Tenant FAQ For Tenants Who Is Eligible for Assistance? Eligibility for a housing voucher is determined by HARC based on the total annual gross income. In general, the family's income may not exceed 50% of the median income for the county or metropolitan area in which the family chooses to live. During the application process, HARC will collect information on family income, assets, and family composition. HARC will verify this information with other local agencies, your employer and bank, and will use the information to determine program eligibility and the amount of the housing assistance payment. All statements regarding eligibility must be verified. Misrepresentations made on the pre‑application form will result in the refusal of housing assistance. No person may be admitted to an Authority housing program who engages in drug related or violent criminal activities, has committed fraud in connection with a federally assisted housing program or who owes money to an assisted housing provider. All statements regarding eligibility must be verified. Misrepresentations made on the pre-application form will result in the refusal of housing assistance. How is Income verified? All income, benefits, and allowances must be verified with documentation. HARC staff must obtain written verification either from independent third party sources or original documents brought in by the tenant. In addition, HARC reviews employment records through HUD's employment verification system. If unreported income is found, this can result in termination of assistance. The family will be required to repay HARC for any overpaid assistance. Can I pay the extra rent to make up the amount the landlord wants for the unit? No. The Housing Authority determines the tenant's portion of the rent. The owner may not, under any circumstances, charge or accept additional payments from the family for their share of the rent that has not been approved by HARC. When are changes reported? Any change in income or family composition must be reported to HARC within 14 days of its occurrence. Income change forms are available at the Housing Authority's reception desk. Failure to report or under reporting changes could jeopardize your eligibility for housing program assistance or result in termination from the program. Where are Vouchers accepted? You may use your Housing Choice Voucher anywhere within Racine County or anywhere in the USA where there is a Housing Authority to administer the program. Ask your Housing Specialist for information regarding portability. Wherever you choose to live, the housing unit must pass a Housing Quality Standards (HQS) inspection. It must also pass a rent reasonableness test to assure that the rent charged is fair. What do I do if I want to move and use my rental assistance in another unit? In order to receive a moving voucher, the Housing Authority must receive a copy of the notice you have given your property owner/manager stating your intention to vacate the unit. You must provide the Housing Authority with the most recent copy of your utility bill showing no past due balance. In addition, your property owner/manager must sign a good standing form. This form is available to pick up from your Housing Specialist. Does the Housing Authority assist with Security Deposit funds? No. The tenant is responsible for paying all of the security deposit. How much can a landlord collect for a Security Deposit? The security deposit amount collected must be in compliance with state and local laws. Owners are prohibited from charging Housing Choice Voucher families more for a security deposit than their unassisted families. The security deposit must be fair and reasonable. Annual Re-Certification: Why are annual re-certification necessary? HARC is required by federal regulations to review each family's income and family size at least once a year. This is done to insure that the right amount of rent is being paid based on actual income and the home is the right size for the family. How can I prepare for the recertification? Be on time for your appointment. Be sure you bring all the information requested in your recertification letter. What happens during the recertification? HARC will notify each family of their re-certification two months before the anniversary of the initial move-in date. Your Housing Specialist will schedule a time to conduct the interview and also schedule an annual HQS Inspection. How do I qualify for a utility reimbursement? Whether or not a family receives a utility reimbursement is determined by family income and the utilities for which the family is responsible. The tenant total payment (approximately 30% of their monthly adjusted income) includes the rent portion and utilities. If the tenant's rent amount is less than the utility allowance for the unit, the family will receive the difference in the form of a utility bill reimbursement. The utility allowance is based on the average cost of utilities, size of the unit, and the location of the unit. Allowances are not based on an individual family's actual energy consumption. What is considered drug related or violent criminal activity? “Drug-related criminal activity” is defined as the illegal manufacture, sale, distribution, or use of a drug or the possession of a drug or the possession of a drug with the intent to manufacture, sell, distribute or use the drug. “Violent criminal activity” is defined as any criminal activity that has one of its elements the use, attempted use, or threatened use of physical force substantial enough to cause, or be reasonably likely to cause, serious bodily injury or property damage. Drug related crime and violent crime are problems everywhere across the country. Be sure that you and members of your family residing in your unit are not involved. Federal regulations provide for termination of assistance to those who participate in these activities. The regulations also state that a person does not have to be arrested or convicted in order for their assistance to terminate. Questions for participants regarding Housing Quality Standards What are Housing Quality Standards? Housing Quality Standards (HQS) are the HUD minimum quality standards for housing assisted under the Rental Assistance program. HQS have been developed for program use nationwide and help to insure that your home will be safe, decent and sanitary. These standards are applied by the Housing Inspector during the inspection. Are inspections required? Yes. Inspections will be completed prior to the unit being placed under Housing Assistance Payment Contract and annually after that. For the annual inspection, the tenant will receive advance notification of their scheduled inspection. A special inspection may be requested by tenants or landlords if a problem exists between annual inspections. Do I have to be present when an inspection occurs? No. However, there must be a responsible adult present, age 18 or over, to let the inspector into the unit. We advise tenants to be present for the initial inspection, so that you will know first hand why the unit did not pass inspection if it fails. I was not at home for my inspection. How can I reschedule? You may reschedule your inspection by contacting the Housing Specialist listed on your appointment letter. If you miss an inspection, you may jeopardize your rental assistance, so you must contact your Housing Specialist immediately. Who should I report maintenance problems to? Maintenance problems should be reported to the landlord or property manager in writing. If the problem is not corrected in a prompt or satisfactory manner, the problem should be reported to Housing Authority in writing for possible action. What are the tenant HQS responsibilities in the unit? Practice good housekeeping habits in your home. Keep the home in a clean, safe, and orderly condition. Do not damage the property. Cut the grass, hedges and shrubbery and maintain the exterior of the property if you are required to in your lease. Let the property manager or landlord know as soon as possible when maintenance or repair work is needed. How can I help my unit to pass inspection the first time? A list of helpful tips for landlords in preparing for inspections are listed in the HARC Landlord handbook which is available upon request. The tenants are also issued "A Good Place to Live" handbook during their briefing with tips for maintenance.