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Frequently Asked Questions

Where is my Direct Deposit Statement?

Effective January 1, 2016, the Housing Authority is going paperless and will no longer mail checks. Rent payments will be made via Direct Deposit. Sign up now to avoid delayed payment.

Payment information is available by signing up for PARTNER PORTAL. Direct Deposit statements will no longer be mailed. Sign up now here. Click on Create an Account to get started with Partner Portal.

Have the tenants been screened by HASCO to make sure they will be reliable?

NO – HASCO is prohibited from doing so. Owners have the responsibility to screen the tenants, check references, and take all steps necessary to be sure that a prospective tenant is acceptable. HASCO can provide you with the name of the current landlord, the previous landlord, and the tenant’s current address (if known).

Lease – What type of lease should be used? What about any special clauses which need to be added to the lease?

We do not require a 12-month lease. The owner will be responsible for preparing the lease with the tenant and to send a copy of the lease to HASCO. As part of the basic HUD requirements, the Tenancy Addendum is to be attached to the lease. The Tenancy Addendum will be sent to the owner once HASCO has approved the unit for the tenant.

Can a security deposit be required?

Yes. HASCO will not determine the Security Deposit for an owner nor whether the Security Deposit is reasonable; the owner can decide what amount needs to be collected. However, the amount collected cannot be in excess of amounts charged to tenants residing in unassisted units. The owner may want to ensure that the security deposit is sufficient to cover amounts the tenant could owe under the lease in the future.

SPECIAL NOTE: HASCO has no funding to cover damages caused by a tenant. It is up to the owner to collect from the tenant.

Can the last month’s rent be collected in advance?

No, this is not allowed.

What happens during the inspection of the home? What maintenance of the unit is required?

The tenant will give you the Request for Tenancy Approval form to complete before an inspection of the unit will be conducted. Once this form is filled out, please return it to the Housing Coordinator as soon as possible. The unit must meet the requirements of decent, safe, and sanitary housing, known as Housing Quality Standards. Our Housing Inspectors can answer any questions you may have on the standards. The Owner Packet (pdf) will provide you a summary on the Housing Quality Standards (HQS) for your review. Our inspectors will notify you of any items which do not meet HQS; these items must be fixed before the lease and contract can start. A unit must pass inspection within 30 calendar days of the date of disapproval. The owner is responsible for maintaining the unit in good condition as outlined in the Rental Agreement. The tenant’s responsibilities are specified in their obligations for the housing program. The tenant must keep the unit in a clean, orderly, and safe condition.

SPECIAL NOTE: The HASCO inspector is responsible only for the enforcement of the HQS. He/she does not inspect for any other federal, state, or local requirements, and does not, except in the case of an immediate hazard, report the results of the inspection to any other agency.

Who determines the amount of contract rent that can be charged for the unit?

Establishing the rent is basically the owner’s responsibility. However, HASCO is required to determine three things before approving a lease. First, an owner cannot charge a higher rent for the home being assisted than he or she is charging for similar unassisted homes. Secondly, the rent being requested must be reasonable in light of what similar homes are being rented for in Snohomish County. Finally, the rent must be within specific limits set by the federal government.

What happens in the case of a disagreement on the contract rent?

If HASCO determines that the proposed rent is either more than what is being charged for similar unassisted homes or more than what similar homes are being rented for in the county, HASCO cannot approve the lease. Of course, the family can rent the home on its own without HASCO assistance or an owner can agree to reduce the rent to an amount determined to be reasonable. It is strictly illegal for an owner to ask the family to pay extra rent in addition to the rent approved by HASCO, including entering into a lease option to buy agreement without approval by HASCO. We turn cases over to the inspector general’s office when an owner and tenant commit fraud in cases like this.

How and when will I receive my monthly rent?

The tenant will pay their portion of the rent directly to you. The amount paid by the tenant is based upon the family’s income. HASCO will pay the balance of the total rent by Direct Deposit. Direct Deposits are generally available on the second working day of each month through our Partner Portal. Please ask our housing staff for more information.

SPECIAL NOTE: While the tenant’s portion of the rent is due on the first, many tenants receive their monthly benefits between the first and the fifth. Owners and tenants should have an agreement as to the actual rent-due date.

Who is responsible for ensuring that the tenant pays the rent punctually?

The tenant is responsible for paying the rent and the owner is responsible for taking action if the tenant fails to do so.

Can the portion of the rent paid by the housing authority change?

Yes. If the tenant’s income changes, both the rent payments from the tenant and HASCO can be adjusted, but the total rent the owner receives remains the same until a new contract rent has been approved by HASCO.

Should I perform my normal initial walkthrough (checklist) of the unit with the tenant?

Yes. Your walkthrough to complete a written checklist describing the condition of the unit at the commencement of the lease is completely separate from HASCO’s inspection. Your checklist is required under the Washington State Landlord/Tenant Act. Be sure your checklist is signed and dated by yourself and the tenant and that you have provided the tenant with a copy.

How long is the lease effective?

The lease is effective until the lease is terminated by the owner, tenant or HASCO. If no instructions are given to HASCO by the owner and the tenant when the lease ends, the lease automatically renews on a month-to month basis under the same terms.

How can the lease be terminated?

The lease can be terminated in one of the following ways:

A. By mutual agreement of the tenant and owner.

B. By the tenant:

1. Upon giving legal notice (20 to 30 days for the end of any month), as specified in their lease agreement.

2. Upon the tenant’s death.

C. By the owner:

1. During the initial lease period the owner may only terminate the lease after serious or repeated violations of the terms and conditions of the lease by the tenant or for “other good cause.” (See question #15)

2. After the initial lease period the owner may terminate the lease without cause as of the last day of any month, provided the owner has given the tenant a written notice of the termination at least 20 days prior to the termination date.

3. After the initial lease period the owner may terminate the lease for serious or repeated violations of the terms of the lease by the tenant for “other good cause” at any time.

4. If the tenant refuses to accept a new lease.

D. Automatically upon termination by HASCO of the contract between HASCO and the owner.

What constitutes “other good cause” permitting the owner to terminate the lease?

Remember that “other good cause” creates grounds for termination that are in addition to any serious or repeated violation of the lease itself.

The Tenancy Addendum states: “The following are some examples of “other good cause” for termination of the tenancy by the owner:

1. Failure by the tenant family to accept the offer of a new lease.

2. A tenant family history of disturbance of neighbors or destruction of property, or of living or housekeeping habits resulting in damage to the unit or property.

3. Criminal activity or alcohol abuse that threatens the health, safety or right to peaceful enjoyment of the premises by other residents.

4. Criminal activity by the tenant family members involving crimes of physical violence to persons or property.

5. The landlord’s desire to utilize the unit for personal or family use or for a purpose other than use as a residential rental unit.

6. Or a business or economic reason for termination of the tenancy (such as sale of the property, renovation of the unit, desire to rent the unit at a higher rental).

This list of examples is intended as a non-exclusive statement of some situations included in “other good cause,” but shall in no way be construed as a limitation of “other good cause” to a situation not included in the list.

The Tenancy Addendum also states that during the first term of the lease, the owner may not terminate the tenancy for “other good cause” unless the termination is based on something the tenant family did or failed to do. The Tenancy Addendum goes on to indicate that reasons 1, 5, and 6 above are not grounds for termination during the first initial term of the lease.

What happens if I want to change the terms of the lease?

The lease permits the owner to propose a new lease to the tenant at any time after the initial lease has expired. The owner must give the tenant and HASCO 60 days written notice of the proposed new terms. If HASCO and the tenant agree to the terms, a new lease will be prepared incorporating them. If they are not accepted, the owner may terminate the lease.

When and how can the rent be increased?

An increase can be requested at any time when not in a current lease based upon current rental rates, market conditions and HUD regulation. Owners must give the tenant and HASCO at least 2 full months written notice in advance of the desired increase. The rent increase must be approved by HASCO as a “Reasonable Rent.” Talk to the Housing Coordinator for more details.

What about paperwork or if I have further questions?

Each tenant approved by HASCO on the program has been assigned a Housing Coordinator. Ask your tenant for the name of their Coordinator, who will gladly answer any questions you may have. HASCO will draw up the contracts and other necessary documents. The owner prepares the lease and has the tenant sign the new lease agreement. The owner is responsible for providing HASCO with a copy of the lease.

Annual Reviews

We are required by HUD to review the tenant’s income and household circumstances and to inspect the unit for HQS once a year. As part of the review process HASCO will contact the owner to determine the owner’s intent for the rent and utilities paid by the tenant. At the same time HASCO will contact the tenant to schedule an inspection of the unit and to conduct an income review. If the HQS inspection should fail for the annual review, the owner will be sent a fail letter that explains what must be corrected and when HASCO will be out to re-inspect the unit. If you have questions about this process, please ask for the Housing Coordinator assigned to handle the tenant’s file.

Violence Against Women Act

The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) is a new law meant to protect victims from consequences of domestic violence, including applying for a unit, assistance or moving from a unit without providing proper notice. Owners should seek legal advice on how to address VAWA issues raised by a prospective or current tenant. VAWA can be described as follows: “An incident or incidents of actual or threatened domestic violence, dating violence, or stalking will not be construed as a serious or repeated violation of the lease by the victim or threatened victim of that violence and shall not be good cause for terminating the assistance, tenancy, or occupancy rights of the victim of such violence.”

What Fair Housing rules are landlords required to follow?

As a Washington State landlord, you are prohibited by the Fair Housing Act (federal law) and Washington State Law from discriminating against tenants and prospective tenants based on any of the following categories (called “protected classes”):

  • Race or color
  • National origin
  • Religion
  • Sex
  • Familial status (including children under the age of 18 living with parents or legal custodians; pregnant women and people securing custody of children under 18)
  • Disability
  • Sexual orientation and gender identity
  • Marital status
  • Military/Veteran status (including any individual using a HUD-VASH voucher)
  • Source of income, including Section 8 vouchers, Social Security, and veteran benefits (starting on September 30, 2018)

For more information, see HUD.gov’s Fair Housing page: https://www.hud.gov/program_offices/fair_housing_equal_opp.

What kinds of actions constitute a Fair Housing violation by a landlord?

The following are examples of actions that are discriminatory if they are based on a tenant or prospective tenant being a member of one of the Fair Housing protected classes:

  • Misrepresenting the availability of a unit
  • Offering different lease terms and conditions
  • Applying of lease enforcement or eviction policies differently
  • Advertising a preference for certain kinds of tenants
  • Applying more burdensome rental criteria
  • Steering tenants towards certain kinds of housing
  • Asking about physical disability and selecting unit type (however, accommodating someone’s request for an accessible unit is not discrimination)
  • Failing to provide reasonable accommodations to a person with a disability, including:
    • Denying a request to make a reasonable modification to a unit
    • Denying a service animal
  • Retaliating against a tenant who asserts their fair housing rights or makes a claim
  • Terminating or refusing to renew a lease for other than good cause

For more information about discriminatory practices, visit HUD.gov’s official Fair Housing webpage (https://www.hud.gov/program_offices/fair_housing_equal_opp) and read “Understanding Fair Housing Laws:” https://tenantsunion.org/en/rights/understanding-fair-housing-laws

For more information about the kinds of Reasonable Accommodations landlords should expect to make for disabled tenants, see HUD.gov’s information page: https://www.hud.gov/program_offices/fair_housing_equal_opp/ReasonableAccommodations15

What are the Fair Housing “protected classes” that landlords may not discriminate against?

The Fair Housing Act (federal law) prohibits discrimination in housing because of:

  • Race or color
  • National origin
  • Religion
  • Sex
  • Familial status (including children under the age of 18 living with parents or legal custodians; pregnant women and people securing custody of children under 18)
  • Disability

In addition, Washington State Law also prohibits discrimination in housing against the following additional protected classes:

  • Sexual orientation and gender identity
  • Marital status
  • Military/Veteran status (including any individual using a HUD-VASH voucher)
  • Source of income, including Section 8 vouchers, Social Security, and veteran benefits (starting on September 30, 2018)