Landlord Frequently Asked Questions [FAQ]
What are the benefits to me for creating a Property Owner Account on the Assistancecheck.com website?
For your convenience, SCHA is now offering a secure, online service to allow you to contact us and make requests online rather than in person or by mail. Some of the services offered include:
- Review Payments: Search And View Your Last 18 Months Of HAP Payments
- View Scheduled Inspections And Results
- List Your Available Rental Properties In Assistancecheck
- Update Your Contact Information
Can I still request an annual Housing Quality Standards (HQS) inspection if my unit will be “skipped” as part of the new biennial inspection process?
Yes. Owners and tenants have the right to request an inspection if their unit will be “skipped” as part of the new biennial inspection process for landlords and tenants who meet all HQS guidelines upon first visit. Please note we may still schedule on an interim basis as well as annual basis when requested by a family or government official. Please contact us within 30 days of the skipped inspection notice.
- If your unit passed the last inspection on the first visit, your unit will be inspected biennially (every 24 months) as long as it continues to pass on the first visit. Sioux City Housing Authority (SCHA) implemented this change with September, 2014, HQS scheduling, for every unit that passed their inspection last year in odd numbered census tracts in Sioux City. After the first year of implementation of our new policy (September, 2015), we will review units in all census tracts to see if they meet the guidelines for a biennial inspection.
- Please note since we are moving to biennial inspections, all Housing Quality Standards must be met at the first scheduled inspection time. Any deficiencies by tenant or owner will require an annual HQS inspection until unit passes on the first visit. This includes smoke detectors.
Will I receive a notice from SCHA if I qualify for a biennial inspection and no inspection is scheduled this year?Yes, SCHA will notify you if your unit requires an inspection, or if you will move to a biennial inspection based on the results of your last inspection. The SCHA’s goal is to support landlords and provide adequate notice of annual inspections so that you have time to take corrective actions if needed. Inspection notices are generally mailed out 45 days prior to inspection for landlords.
- You may request rent increases after the initial one year lease term ends. Where the owner is changing the amount of rent, the owner must notify the Housing Authority 60 days before any such changes go into effect [24 CFR 982.308(g)(4)]. Please provide of a copy of the proposed rent increase notice to both the SCHA and the tenant. SCHA will determine whether the requested increase is reasonable within 10 business days of receiving the request from the owner, according to the Housing Choice Voucher’s rent reasonableness standards. If the requested rent is not found to be reasonable, the owner must either reduce the requested rent increase, or give the family notice in accordance with the terms of the lease. Rent increases will go into effect on the first of the month following the 60 day period after the owner notifies SCHA of the rent change.
Yes, all the resources listed here are provided free of charge.
SCHA has a listing book in their office for both applicants and current tenants to view hard copies of available rental units provided to us by property owners and managers. If you wish to provide a copy of your listing, please email SCHA at email@example.com or fax it to us at 712-224-5200.
You may also list your rental properties online at www.assistancecheck.com, www.iowahousingsearch.org and www.gosection8.com. Our website links directly to all three.
HCV Program applicants and tenants will be using the Assistancecheck website to check the status of their application and report changes. To utilize AssistanceCheck to list your properties, first you must register online at www.assistancecheck.com by ‘Creating A Property Owner Account’. SCHA will mail a Personal Identification Number (PIN) to participating property owners upon request or they may call 712-279-6348 to request a PIN.
Yes, SCHA offers you the opportunity to receive your Housing Choice Voucher Program payments electronically through ACH (direct deposit) from the City of Sioux City. Direct deposit electronic payments are prompt, efficient, and a more reliable method for receiving payments than receiving payments through the US mail.
In order for you to participate in the direct deposit payment system, you must provide an email address for the City to send payment remittance to. A Microsoft Word document containing Invoice # (tenant information) and Invoice Amount is attached to an email that is sent to the email address specified on the authorization form. If you choose not to sign up for the direct deposit payment system, you will continue to receive checks via the US mail. To sign up for ACH (direct deposit); please contact Stephanie at 279-6275 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
When a family approaches an owner to apply for tenancy, the owner is responsible for screening the family and deciding whether to lease to the family, just as the owner would with any potential unassisted tenant. SCHA has no liability or responsibility to the owner or other persons for the family’s behavior or suitability for tenancy.
SCHA determines eligibility for rental assistance subsidy, reviewing household composition, income, and the applicant’s last 3 years of criminal history. The SCHA does conduct eligibility screening for their program, but by no means should you rely solely on their screening. You should conduct thorough tenant screenings on all of your tenants, including HCV tenants.Taking the time to properly screen tenants can help you prevent costly evictions and property damage.
SCHA is required to provide the landlord with the following information upon request:
- The family's current and prior address (as shown in the SCHA records); and the name and address (if known to SCHA) of the landlord at the family's current and prior address.
The rental subsidy depends on 4 factors: HUD established Fair Market Rents, Public Housing Authority established Payment Standards, the Voucher Size (number of bedrooms) the family is eligible for based on the Housing Authority’s subsidy standards, and family composition and income.
HUD publishes Fair Market Rents (FMRs) for each metropolitan area October 1st. Each local Housing Authority will then use the Fair Market Rent that HUD has set as a guide. SCHA will look at factors in their area such as, how long it takes an HCV family to locate housing, and will determine their Payment Standard, or the maximum amount they are able to pay for each bedroom size based on the annual budget HUD provides for the program. This Payment Standard will be between 90 and 110 percent of the Fair Market Rent.
Payment Standards are reviewed and set annually by the SCHA effective December 1st. Payment Standards for each bedroom size include both rent and a utility allowance.
The Voucher Size. A family’s household composition is reviewed and SCHA determines the appropriate voucher size (based on subsidy standards) and enters the family unit size on the voucher that is issued to the family. The family unit size of the voucher does not dictate the size of unit the family must actually lease, nor does it determine who within a household will share a bedroom/sleeping room. It only determines the level of rental subsidy the family is eligible for.
The Family’s Composition and Total Household Income is used to determine eligibility according to PHA guidelines.
- If the Payment Standard is increased by SCHA during the term of a current Housing Assistance Payment contract, the increased Payment Standard will be used to calculate the monthly housing assistance payment for the family beginning on the effective date of the family’s first annual reexamination on or after the effective date of the increase in the payment standard. The increased payment standard is effective for new admissions on or after the effective date of the increase.
Yes! Families who have vouchers can continue to pay rent even if their hours are reduced or they lose a job. If a current tenant has limited income, they may be making choices to pay rent or purchase needed medications or reliable transportation to maintain their job.
If you have current tenants who need rental assistance, they may apply online at www.sioux-city.org/housing.
Do applicants for the HCV Program have to move? I have a current tenant who isn’t on your program who just lost their job and will need help paying their rent.No. Families may remain in their current rental unit when they apply for the HCV Program as long as it meets HQS, the contract rent is within the Program Guidelines, and the Tenant’s Share Of Rent doesn’t exceed 40% of their Adjusted Gross Income.
Participants in the Housing Choice Voucher Program are responsible to pay their portion of the rent each month directly to the landlord. Landlords who participate in the Housing Choice Voucher Program have a contractual obligation to collect the resident’s portion of the rent each month. Participants who fail to pay their rent are subject to termination of their rental assistance and a three year ban on program participation.
Here’s where we can work in partnership. If you have not received your rent from the program participant within the time-frame stated in the lease, send a late rent notice to the participant and a copy of the notice to our office. When the Sioux City Housing Authority receives the copy of your notice to the participant, we will send a warning notice to the participant reinforcing your right to collect their portion of the rent. We will also remind them of the program penalty if you evict for non-payment of rent. This will work only if you are willing to follow through with court action, as we cannot interfere with your management rights. Let us help you put your money in your pocket, where it belongs.
- When approving the rent of a unit HUD requires us to compare the unit and the rent requested with other similar properties that are being rented on the private rental market. We conduct rent comparable surveys on a regular basis and update our records accordingly for unassisted registered rental properties not participating in the Housing Choice Voucher Program.
Our current HQS inspectors have provided a list of some of the most common fail items encountered in performing initial inspections of units. Landlords and managers who have worked with us previously probably are aware of these items; landlords new to the program may find this useful as they prepare for our initial inspection of a unit.
- Be sure all utilities (electricity, gas, water) are turned on by the time of our inspection.
- Make sure all interior and exterior painted surfaces are free of deteriorated paint.
- Install a handrail on any interior/exterior stairway that has more than 3 steps including the landing.
- All smoke detectors must be installed and working. There must be at least one detector on every level of the unit, and these should be installed near bedrooms or sleeping areas.
- All appliances must be clean and in good working order.
- Ensure plumbing and electrical are up to City Code with cover plates on every electrical outlet and light switch.
- The unit must be clean and in move-in condition and all repairs must have been completed.
- Ensure all screens and windows are installed and free of defects.
- Windows that are within 6 feet or less from the ground, steps, or porch must have a lock.
- Ensure all exterior areas (roofs, gutters, foundations, steps, porches, refuse, and yard items, etc.) are free from hazards or conditions endangering health or safety.
Housing Choice Vouchers provide a safety net for tenants and owners alike.
Consistent Rent Payment: Renting to a HCV tenant allows you to receive a portion of the rental payment on a consistent basis each month. Tenants who meet certain requirements are granted a Housing Choice Voucher from SCHA which allows them to look for housing within a certain price range. Once the rental unit has been approved and inspected by SCHA, and a lease has been signed with the tenant, SCHA is responsible for paying the determined Housing Assistance Payment directly to the landlord each month. SCHA will either mail you a check or they will deposit the amount directly into your bank account. A tenant is still responsible for a percentage of the rent and must pay this portion directly to you. HCV tenants know that failure to comply with the terms of the lease agreement, including paying rent, could result in the loss of their rental subsidy and a sanction of up to three years. Therefore, they have a strong incentive to pay their portion of the rent each month.
Targeted Marketing: If you decide to make your property HCV friendly, you have some unique marketing opportunities available to you. These opportunities exists both online and in person.
- Online: If you choose to advertise your rental property online, not only can you advertise the property on traditional sites such as Craigslist, but SCHA has a website that is dedicated specifically to HCV tenants. It’s called AssistanceCheck.com. First you must register online by creating a property owner account. SCHA will mail a Personal Identification Number (PIN) to participating property owners upon request or they may call 712-279-6348 to request a PIN. Once registered, you are free to post any HCV friendly listing you have on the site. This is a great free resource as it allows you to specifically target the HCV market.
- In Person: When marketing to HCV tenants, you not only have the traditional marketing venues available to you, such as grocery stores and community bulletin boards, but you can also provide additional information to the SCHA office. You can add your property to their Listing Book of available rentals. This list can be viewed as a hard-copy directly at the office. This marketing method is a great way to reach those that may not have internet access and to hone in even more on your local HCV market. It is also free of charge.
Rental History: SCHA is required to provide the landlord with the following information upon request: SCHA must provide the owner with the family's current and prior address (as shown in the SCHA records); and the name and address (if known to SCHA) of the landlord at the family's current and prior address.
I have a potential tenant who wants to lease my unit, but doesn’t have funds for the first month’s security deposit. Can you help them?
Possibly, please refer them to their caseworker to complete an application for security deposit assistance.
If they are not currently eligible for rental assistance through the HCV Program, we have a CITY WIDE SECURITY DEPOSIT ASSISTANCE PROGRAM TO HELP ALL ELIGIBLE RENTERS!
Please direct them to www.sioux-city.org/housing for a Security Deposit application!