Information for the Applicant and Resident
What is the Housing Choice Voucher Program?
The Housing Choice Voucher Program provides housing assistance for low-income families in the private rental market. Rental voucher holders select a unit from the private rental market. Rental assistance makes market-rate housing affordable. Program participants pay no more than 30% of their monthly adjusted income towards rent and utilities. The housing assistance payment subsidizes the balance of the rent to the property owner.
How can I become a part of this program?
Eligibility for a rental voucher is determined by the Alexander City Housing Authority (ACHA) based on the total annual gross income and family size and is limited to U.S. citizens and specified categories of non-citizens who have eligible immigration status. The family's income may not exceed 50% of the area median income. Median income levels are published by HUD and vary by location. The ACHA can provide you with the income limits for your area and family size. During the application process, the ACHA will collect information on family income, assets and family composition. The ACHA 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 rental assistance payment.
If the ACHA determines that your family is eligible, the ACHA will put your name on a waiting list, unless it is able to assist you immediately. Once your name is reached, the ACHA will contact you and issue to you a rental voucher.
Where can I live?
Once your family has been issued a rental voucher, you can search the private rental market in your community for a housing unit that is decent, safe and sanitary according to Housing Quality Standards (HQS) established by HUD and the ACHA. (Request a copy of the HUD booklet "A Good Place to Live!," to guide you in finding a unit that meets these standards.) When you have found a suitable unit and the owner agrees to lease the unit to your family under the housing choice voucher program, the ACHA will inspect the unit to assure that it is suitable. After the unit passes HQS inspection and the rent has been approved, the landlord and tenant enter into a lease for an initial term of one year. The ACHA and the landlord sign a Housing Assistance Payments Contract through which the rent is assisted on your behalf. You will be responsible for the monthly payment of the difference between the total rent and the housing assistance payment.
Can I move and continue to receive this assistance?
A family's housing needs change over time with changes in family size, job locations, and for other reasons. The Housing Choice Voucher Program is designed to allow families to move without the loss of rental assistance. Moves are permissible as long as the family notifies the housing authority ahead of time, terminates its existing lease within the appropriate provisions, and finds acceptable alternate housing. Under the voucher program, new voucher holders may choose a unit anywhere in the United States if the family has lived within the jurisdiction of the current housing authority for at least 12 months while receiving assistance. A family that wishes to move to another housing authority's jurisdiction must consult with the housing authority that currently administers its rental assistance to verify the procedures for moving.
What is the term of the lease?
The lease is for one year. After one year, the lease is renewed on a month-to-month basis. You may vacate with a notice after the term of the lease expires. If you remain in the unit, you are recertified for eligibility and the unit is inspected for Housing Quality Standards annually.
How do I apply for assistance?
If you are interested, apply at the ACHA main office. You may also download a copy of the application here, fill it out and mail it or bring it by the main office.
Information for the Landlord
We serve Tallapoosa County, except for the City limits of Tallassee, Alabama.
What is the Housing Choice Voucher Program?
The Housing Choice Voucher Program provides housing assistance for low-income families in the private rental market. Rental voucher holders select a unit from the private rental market. Rental assistance makes market rate housing affordable. Program participants pay no more than 30% of adjusted monthly income towards rent and utilities. The Housing Assistance Payment subsidizes the balance of the rent to the property owner.
What are the requirements for my unit to be rented to an assisted family?
The unit must meet HUD Housing Quality Standards and the rent must be reasonable for the jurisdiction and approveable within HUD fair market rents. The fair market rents for our area are listed here.
How do I make a unit available to voucher holders?
You may call the ACHA office to have the unit listed on our list of available units. You may also advertise in the newspaper with the phrase "will accept Housing Choice Voucher Program".
What do I do when contacted by a voucher holder about my unit?
You must screen the prospective tenant carefully to insure you are making a good selection. When a voucher holder contacts you, we recommend that you perform credit checks, landlord reference checks and home visits to their current residence, if possible. We will verify their income eligibility for the program and our investigators will do a criminal background check prior to eligibility determination. We encourage you to screen the voucher holder. We cannot provide a reference as to their expected behavior as tenants. Remember, the lease is between you and the tenant. Treat them the same as you would a non-assisted tenant. Check on them and inspect your property as you feel it is needed. Do not discriminate based on race, color, religion, ancestry, sex, country of birth, handicap or familial status. "Familial status" means a landlord may not refuse to allow children to live in a residential unit.
Request for Tenancy Approval
When you have selected a tenant, he/she will have a "Request for Tenancy Approval" form for you to complete. When the tenant submits the form to our office, a housing representative will contact you to schedule an inspection.
Inspection of Property
The unit will be inspected to insure that it meets HUD Housing Quality Standards. A copy of the HQS can be downloaded here. Once the inspection is completed you will be mailed a copy of the inspection repair list, if applicable.
Lease and Contract
After the unit passes inspection and the rent has been approved, the landlord and tenant enter into a lease for an initial term of one year. The ACHA and you, the landlord, sign a Housing Assistance Payments Contract through which the rent is assisted on behalf of the tenant.
Can I collect a security deposit?
Yes you can. However, regulations prohibit security deposits in excess of private practice, or in excess of amounts charged by the owner to unassisted tenants. The usual amount is one month's rent.
What is the term of the lease and contract?
After one year, the lease can be renewed on a month-to-month basis. The tenant may vacate with a notice after the term of the lease expires. If the tenant remains in the unit, the tenant is recertified for eligibility and the unit is inspected for HQS annually, at which time the landlord may request an annual adjustment rent increase which must be approved by the ACHA. This request must be submitted in writing to the housing authority and tenant sixty days prior to renewal. Ask our housing representative about these procedures.
What are my rights and responsibilities as a landlord?
- Maintain your property in good condition. Complete repairs within a reasonable amount of time upon request by the housing authority or tenant, 24 hours or less for emergencies. The amount of time that is reasonable depends on the nature of the problem.
- Set reasonable rules about use of unit and common areas.
- Do not enter a unit without tenant's permission and proper notice except for emergencies or tenant requested repairs.
- Collect appropriate security deposit as directed under the program and use it only as directed by state law.
- Comply with equal opportunity requirements.
- Enforce tenant obligations under the lease.
- Expect your tenant to:
- Pay rent on time
- Keep unit clean
- Avoid illegal activity
- Permit access for repairs
- Avoid damage to property
- Refrain from disturbing others
- Allow only those occupants on the lease to reside in the unit
- Comply with terms and conditions of lease and Housing Assistance Payment Contract with ACHA
- Take action through District Court to evict when tenant violates the lease.
(Some of this information reprinted from Housing Forms, Inc. Copyright 2001)