Frequently Asked Questions
Does HASCO perform background checks on tenants?
No, landlords have the responsibility to screen prospective tenants, check references, and take all steps necessary to ensure that prospective tenants meet acceptable rental standards. However, HASCO can provide prospective landlords with the names of current and previous landlords and the tenant’s current addresses (if known).
Does HASCO prescribe the use of a standard lease, or is there a preferred lease format?
No. HASCO expects landlords to provide a fully executed lease signed by both the tenant and landlord. The terms of that lease are left to the landlord to negotiate with their tenant. HASCO requires that the terms of the lease follow all Washington State Landlord Tenant Act laws. HASCO has a lease addendum that must be a part of any HCV subsidized lease. This Lease Addendum clarifies the relationships that HASCO has with both the tenant and landlord.
Can landlords require a deposit from assisted tenants?
Yes. HASCO will not determine the security deposit amount for a landlord nor determine whether the security deposit is reasonable; the landlord can decide what amount needs to be collected. However, the amount collected cannot be more than amounts charged to tenants residing in any unassisted units managed by the landlord.
Can the last month’s rent be collected in advance?
Yes, however, the amount collected cannot be more than advanced amounts collected from tenants residing in unassisted units from the same management team.
After the landlord accepts the tenant participating in the HCV program, what’s the next step to getting tenants leased in?
HCV program participant will give the landlord a Request for Tenancy Approval (RFTA) to complete and return to the Housing Authority. The landlord will complete the Landlord section of the RFTA, the Disclosure of Lead-based Paint form, and the W-9. The landlord or participant will submit all completed and signed forms to HASCO. HASCO will contact the landlord, or tenant if they are already in the unit, to schedule an inspection.
It is important for the landlord to fill out the RFTA completely, especially the utility section describing who pays for which utilities because this section of the RFTA is used for calculating the approved rental amount based on the type of utilities for that unit.
What happens during the inspection of the rental unit? What maintenance might be required from the landlord?
The unit must meet the requirements of decent, safe, and sanitary housing, known as Housing Quality Standards (HQS). The Summary of Section 8 Housing Quality Standards found in the Landlord Info, Prepping for an Inspection section of HASCO.org provides the landlords with a summary of HQS. It is vital for the landlord to understand these HQS. HASCO inspectors will notify the landlord of any items which do not meet HQS if the unit fails inspection. The items that cause the unit to fail must be fixed before HASCO approves the contract. A unit must pass inspection within 30 calendar days of the date of disapproval or initial failure to meet HQS.
The landlord is responsible for maintaining the unit in good condition as outlined in the Lease Agreement. The tenant has a responsibility to keep the unit in a clean, orderly, and safe condition, always.
SPECIAL NOTE: The HASCO inspector is responsible only for the enforcement of the HQS. HASCO inspectors do not inspect for any other federal, state, or local requirements, and do not, except in the case of an immediate hazard, report the results of the inspection to any other agency.
Should landlords perform a move in and move out inspection for tenants participating in the HCV program?
Yes. By performing a move in and move out inspection, landlords are documenting the condition of the unit at move in and move out. The landlord must insist that the participant sign the documents at move in to certify that the unit was in good condition at move in. At move out, if the unit is damaged, the landlord can obtain a court documented claim. Should the landlord receive a court order, HASCO will require the HCV participant to be in a payback agreement with the landlord. Failure to comply or to enter into a payback agreement would result in the participant/tenant losing their voucher.
Who determines the amount of contract rent that can be charged for the unit?
Establishing the rent is basically the landlord’s responsibility. However, HASCO is required by HUD to determine three things before approving a lease. First, landlords cannot charge a higher rent for the home being assisted than they charge for a similar unassisted home they manage. Second, the rent must be reasonable in comparison with similar homes in Snohomish County jurisdiction. Third, only at initial lease up, the rent on the unit must be at or below the family’s maximum allowable rent cap.
How much of the rent requested by the landlord will the HCV subsidy cover?
The tenant generally pays between 30%-40% of their household income toward rent and utilities.
The amount of the HCV rent subsidy is determined by several factors, including: the household income; size of family; the rental housing market costs of the community where the voucher is utilized; the rent of a chosen unit; and the cost of any utilities assigned to the tenant for the unit.
How do landlords receive their rent payments? How are rental portions paid to the landlord?
The tenant will pay their portion of the rent directly to the landlord. HASCO will pay the balance of the total rent by direct deposit. Direct Deposits are made into the landlord’s account on the first working day of the month. Direct deposit statements are generally available on the second working day of each month through HASCO’s Partner Portal.
Who is responsible for ensuring that the tenant pays the rent on time?
The tenant is responsible for paying the rent and the landlord is responsible for acting if the tenant fails to do so.
Does HASCO require a 12-month lease?
HASCO permits any length of a lease so long as it is at least one month long, and the length of term complies with the Landlord Tenant Act of Washington. (Project Based Voucher units require an initial 12-month lease)
How can the lease be terminated?
The lease can be terminated in one of the following ways:
- By agreement of the tenant and landlord.
- By the tenant:
- Upon giving legal notice (20 to 30 days for the end of any month), as specified in their lease agreement.
- Upon the tenant’s death.
- By the landlord:
- During the initial lease period the landlord 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 next question)
- After the initial lease period the landlord may terminate the lease without cause as of the last day of any month, provided the landlord has given the tenant a written notice of the termination at least 20 days prior to the termination date.
- After the initial lease period the landlord 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.
- If the tenant refuses to accept a new lease.
What constitutes “other good cause” permitting the landlord to terminate the lease?
“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:
- Failure by the tenant to accept the offer of a new lease.
- A tenant history of disturbance of neighbors or destruction of property, or of living or housekeeping habits resulting in damage to the unit or property.
- Criminal activity or alcohol abuse that threatens the health, safety or right to peaceful enjoyment of the premises by other residents.
- Criminal activity by the tenant involving crimes of physical violence to persons or property.
- 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.
- 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 serious that the tenant did or failed to do.
If a HCV participant is not a good tenant, is there a special process to evict them?
Landlords must follow all Washington State Landlord Tenant Act laws. Landlords are required to send notices to the Housing Specialist at HASCO. These notices ensure that the landlord has followed the proper procedures that lead up to the eviction process. Warning notices, 10-day notices, 3-day notices, 14-day Notices to Pay or Vacate, 20-day end of lease notices, 60-day notices of increase in rent, and 120-day Notices to Vacate for major renovation work. Notices should be shared or sent to the Housing Specialists.
What happens if landlords want to change the terms of the lease?
The landlord must give the tenant and HASCO a 60-day written notice of the proposed new terms. If HASCO and the tenant agree to the terms, the landlord must generate a new lease incorporating the changes. Should HASCO not accept the proposed changes, the landlord may terminate the lease.
When and how can the rent be increased?
When increasing rent, Landlords must give HASCO at least a 60-day written notice and tenants at least 30-day written notice of the intent to increase rent.
To request to increase the rent, the Landlord will complete HASCO’s Rent Increase Form, attach a copy of the 30-Day Notice to the tenant of rent increase, and email it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
All rent increases are effective on the first of the month for which the rent increase has been approved.
Are there any annual requirements for a HCV tenant?
Yes. HASCO is required by HUD to review the tenant’s income and household circumstances, and to inspect the tenant’s unit for HQS annually or bi-annually. If the HQS inspection should fail during the annual review, the landlord will be sent a letter that explains what must be fixed and when HASCO will be out to re-inspect the unit. If the landlord has questions about the inspection process, they should contact the Housing Specialist assigned to their tenant at HASCO.
HUD generally recommends that tenants’ income be at least 3 times the amount of rent. If HUD pays all or a significant portion of the tenant’s rent how much income can a landlord require the tenant have to be eligible?
There is a new Washington State Law, HB2578, referred to as the “Source of Income Law.” HASCO highly recommends that landlords discuss this new law with their attorneys. The law prohibits landlords from discriminating against prospective tenants based solely on their sources of income.
Landlords are now required to subtract the amount of a rent voucher or other subsidy from the total of the monthly rent prior to calculating if income level requirements have been met.
Example: Landlord requires tenant’s income to be at least 3 times the monthly rent.
Total Rent = $1400
Tenant has a housing voucher that will cover $1200 of the rent
$1400-$1200 = $200
Tenant would need to verify at least $600 per month in other income
Does HASCO have any inspections or Tenant guidelines to help ensure the rental property will be appropriately cared for?
At admission to the HCV program, HASCO meets with each HCV Participant and conducts a briefing session that emphasizes and educates participants on the importance of being good tenant. HASCO outlines the tenants’ responsibilities and the obligations to treat the rental home as if it were their own. HASCO performs initial inspections as well as follow up inspections annually or bi-annually to ensure that the unit meets Housing Quality Standards. Landlords are periodically cautioned against relying on the housing authority inspections as their primary inspections. Successful landlords inspect their units at a minimum of once per year. Landlords are required to give proper notice to inspect a unit as contained in the Landlord Tenant Act.
How long does it take to lease a HCV participant up and when will I receive the first payment?
The steps to lease up are described in the question “After the landlord accepts the tenant participating in the HCV program, what’s the next step to getting tenants leased in?” HASCO inspects the unit within 10-business days. (Average is 3-5 days)
Once the unit is approved, the HCV participant is free to move in. HASCO check runs are on the 1st and 15th of the month. HASCO will not release checks before the landlord and tenant return a signed HAP contract and lease. The landlord may not receive their check immediately and may have to wait for the next check run. After the first payment, rent payments will be made on the 1st of every month.
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
- 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)
- 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
What is the Source of Income Discrimination Law and where do I find more information?
Landlords in Washington are no longer able to deny tenancy to an applicant or terminate tenancy based on a household’s use of a Section 8 housing choice voucher or other subsidy to pay their rent.
In addition, landlords are prohibited from the following based on a household’s source of income: discouraging prospective or current tenants from leasing a unit, misrepresenting unit availability, and marketing units in a way that indicates preferences or restrictions based on an applicant’s source of income. Landlords are required to factor in the household’s rental subsidy when determining that income thresholds are met by applicants and current tenants.
The law also created a landlord mitigation program that provides funds to landlords for costs associated with renting private-market rental units to low-income tenants using rental subsidy programs. Landlords can access the landlord mitigation program for reimbursement for improvements required by the rental subsidy program inspection, lost rental income prior to lease-up, unpaid rent and utilities, and unit damages beyond normal wear and tear.
The following links provide additional information regarding this law.
- Northwest Justice Project’s information sheet: https://www.washingtonlawhelp.org/files/C9D2EA3F-0350-D9AF-ACAE-BF37E9BC9FFA/attachments/2702C444-2783-49DC-A362-97D7C05C4BF3/6323en_tenants_new_legal-protection-source-of-income.pdf
- Text of the law: http://lawfilesext.leg.wa.gov/biennium/2017-18/Pdf/Bills/House%20Passed%20Legislature/2578-S2.PL.pdf#page=1
- Tenant Screening Rights: http://lawfilesext.leg.wa.gov/biennium/2017-18/Pdf/Bills/House%20Passed%20Legislature/2578-S2.PL.pdf#page=1
- Washington State Legislature’s collection of Session Laws (RCW) sections related to the Residential Landlord-Tenant Act: https://app.leg.wa.gov/RCW/default.aspx?cite=59.18
Where can we learn more information about the Landlord Mitigation Fund?
How does a Landlord determine what the monthly rent should be? What is a "rent reasonableness" review?
Landlords should set their rents at a rate they feel is fair for the current market. At the time of the unit inspection, the HASCO will also be performing a “Rent Reasonableness” review and determination. We are required to ensure that rents charged by owners to Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) program participants are reasonable. HASCO will compare the rent for the voucher unit to rents for similar unassisted units in the marketplace. Ensuring rent reasonableness is very important for effective program operations. If HASCO approves rents that are too high, government funds are wasted, and limited housing subsidies are squandered. Alternatively, if rents are approved at levels lower than comparable units in the private market, better owners and higher quality units are discouraged from participating in the program.