housing choice voucher Tenant Information

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What is the Voucher Program?
The Voucher Program provides assistance for low income families in the private rental market through the Housing Assistance Payments Program. (HAP)

Rental voucher holder select a unit from the private rental market. Rental assistance makes market rate housing affordable. Program participants normally pay no more than 30% of monthly adjusted income towards rent and utilities. The Housing Assistance Payment subsidizes the balance of the rent to the property owner.

The unit must meet HUD Housing Quality Standards (HQS)

What are the requirements for a unit to be rented to my family with a voucher?

- Have doors and windows which lock
- Have private area for toilet
- Have cook stove or microwave and food prep area (except for special housing i.e. group residence, SRO, etc.)
- Have all utilities paid by resident metered separately
- Have no chipping, chalking, cracked or peeling paint in pre-1978 units (Lead-based regulation requirement)
- Have water, sewer and garbage paid by Landlord within Bismarck City limits
- The rent must be approvable within HUD Payment Standards (You will be given this information when your name reaches the top of BCHA/s waiting list and you attend your eligibility appointment.)
- The rent must be approvable in comparison to market rent for like units.

How do I know a unit is available to me as a voucher holder

You may ask the landlord from whom you wish to rent, or check the list the BCHA office provides to you at your eligibility appointment to see if the unit is listed on our list of available units. You may also check in the newspaper for the phrase “HAP Welcome”.

What do I do when I want to rent a unit with my voucher?

Landlord screens resident

The Landlord must screen you as a prospective resident in accordance with his/her established screening policy. After you contact a landlord, BCHA can certify your income eligibility for the program to that landlord. We do not provide a reference as to your expected behavior as residents. They may use any or all of the following screening procedures:

- Credit Check
- Landlord References
- Criminal Check
- Home Visits

We encourage all of the above screening methods as long as landlords do not discriminate. Discrimination includes any resident selection based on race, color, religion, ancestry, sex, country of birth, disability, handicap or familial status. The prohibition against discrimination based on familial status makes it illegal in most circumstances, to refuse to allow children to live in a residential unit.

Request for tenancy approval

When you have selected a unit you wish to rent, you will have a “Request for Tenancy Approval” form you received in a packet from BCHA for your prospective landlord to complete. When you submit the completed form to our office, a housing representative will contact the landlord to schedule an inspection.

Inspection and rent

The unit will be inspected by BCHA to insure that it meets HUD Housing Quality Standards. Your landlord will also be mailed a copy of the inspection form.

Lease and contract

After the unit passes inspection and the rent has been approved, the landlord and resident enter into a lease for an initial term of one year. The HA and the landlord sign a Housing Assistance Payments Contract through which the rent is assisted on behalf of the resident.

Do I need to pay a security deposit?

- Yes
- The Voucher Program prohibits security deposits in excess of private practice, or in excess of amounts charged by the landlord to unassisted residents.
- In accordance with state law.

What is the term of the lease and contract?

After one year, the lease is renewed for a specified time period, month to month. You may vacate your unit with a 30-day written notice to your landlord and BCHA after the 1-year term of the lease expires. If you remain in the unit, you must be recertified by BCHA for eligibility and the unit inspected for HQS annually, the landlord may request an adjustment rent increase which must be approved by BCHA. This request must be submitted in writing to BCHA and resident sixty days prior to renewal.

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