Housing Choice Voucher Program
The Fairfax County Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) administers the Housing Choice Voucher rental subsidy program (formerly known as the Section 8 Program) for Fairfax County and the cities or towns with which the county has agreements.
Due to the high cost of rental units, the gap between what working poor, elderly and disabled people can afford in the rental market and what rents are has grown exponentially. Participants in the Housing Choice Voucher Program receive assistance to rent privately-owned housing units that are located in apartment complexes, condominiums, townhouses, or single-family homes.
For general information on the Housing Choice Voucher Program you may also visit HUD's web site.
Criteria Used to Select Applicants
HCD screens applicants for eligibility under HUD rules and applies local preferences and date and time of application to determine waiting list position. When an applicant's name comes to the top of the list, approved applicants receive a Voucher which entitles them to look for housing in the private market.
Before a unit can be leased under the Housing Choice Voucher Program, HCD checks to ensure that rents charged are reasonable for the area in which the unit is located and that the unit meets basic Housing Quality Standards. Participants must find a landlord/owner willing to rent to a household receiving Voucher assistance. Selection criteria used by private landlords vary. Each landlord uses his/her own criteria, and are encouraged to verify income information and do a thorough check of credit, past rental references and police records. HCD currently performs criminal record checks to determine whether applicants have a prior criminal history. HCD will provide prospective landlords with the name and address of an applicant's current and prior landlord. Applicants must also qualify by income, based on household size. Below are maximum income limits, however 75% of new admissions must be below the extremely low income limits, 30 percent of the median income for the Washington, DC Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA).
Maximum Household Income Limits
Extremely Low (30%)
Maximum Household Income Limits
Very Low (50%)
Maximum Household Income Limits
NOTE: In the Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) Program, at least 75% of new admissions must be below 30% MSA (Extremely Low). Only families that meet one of the following criteria can be admitted with incomes between 50% MSA (Very Low) and 80% MSA (Low):
Households must meet all local preferences to qualify for the Housing Choice Voucher waiting list. The local preferences are:
If the Head or Spouse is employed, attending school, or participating in a job training program, at least 20 hours per week, OR is in a combination of these at least 20 hours per week; OR is 62 or older; OR meets HUD's definition of being disabled; OR is the only adult in the household working less than 20 hours per week and who is the primary caretaker of a disabled dependent.
The Head or Spouse lives or works in Fairfax County or the cities or towns with which the county has agreements.
Rent Burden Preference
During the past 90 days or longer, is paying more than 30% of all gross income (before taxes or deductions) for rent and utilities (excluding telephone and cable television costs), or pays less than 30% of gross income for rent and utilities, but earns less than 50% Area Median Income (see above chart).
It is the responsibility of the applicant to notify HCD in writing of any changes in household composition, address, income, or preference status.
*Hours worked or in job training have been temporarily reduced from 30 hours and will return to 30 hours effective May 1, 2012.
Note: Aperson with a disability is a person who: (1) has a physical disability is a person that substantially limits a major life activity, such as walking, thinking, speaking, breathing, hearing, learning or working; (2) has a record or history of an impairment that limits a major life activity, even if the person no longer has the disability, or if the disability no longer limits a major life activity; or (3) is regarded as having an impairment that limits a major life activity.
Basic Program Leasing
After an applicant's name comes to the top of the waiting list and they are determined eligible to participate in the program, a voucher is issued to the applicants. Prospective tenants will present prospective landlords with a voucher which indicates their estimated contribution, and the number of bedrooms for which the family qualifies. Tenants will pay 30% of their adjusted income, 10% of gross income, or $50.00 whichever is higher. HCD will pay the remainder of a reasonable rent directly to the landlord up to the payment standard for the bedroom size of the unit, or the bedroom size to which the family is entitled, whichever is lower. In addition, they can pay up to 10% more of their adjusted income in order to rent a unit in which the gross rent exceeds the payment standard.
HCD must approve the contract rent for the unit. A family with a disabled member may request 10-20% over the fair market rates as a reasonable accommodation in order to rent a unit necessary due to the disability.
How Do I Lease To A Housing Choice Voucher Family?
To advertise your unit for rent with the Housing Choice Voucher Program or to request additional information about the program, call 703-246-5280. You may also complete the attached Listing Form (PDF) and fax it to 703-273-2363 or mail the form to:
Fairfax County Department of Housing and Community Development
3700 Pender Drive, Suite 100
Fairfax, VA 22030
When an eligible applicant contacts you, and you choose to rent the unit to a Housing Choice Voucher client, submit the completed following forms:
Request for Tenancy
o Rent Reasonableness Assessment Data Sheet (PDF)
- Rent Increase Request (PDF)
Addendum to Request for Tenancy Approval (PDF)
- Direct Deposit Authorization Form (PDF)
- Internal Revenue Service Forms
- W-9 Form Instructions
Landlords can charge whatever security deposit they charge private market tenants up to two months contract rent. Following the initial lease, landlords can request a rent increase by giving the housing authority and tenant at least 60 days written notice. The rent requested must be reasonable according to similar properties in the same complex or subdivision.
Housing Quality Standards Inspection (HQS)
After the information above is submitted, a Housing Quality Standards inspection will be conducted by HCD as soon as possible, usually within 5-10 days. If the unit passes, HCD will enter into a Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) contract with the landlord and the landlord and tenant enter into a lease with a copy to HCD. The beginning and ending dates of the lease must coincide with the beginning and ending dates of the (HAP) Contract. After submission of the signed contract and a copy of your signed lease, payments will be sent at the beginning of each month.
Prior to an initial move-in, HCD must perform an inspection to ensure the unit is decent, safe, and sanitary. The tenant should not sign a lease or move into the unit until the unit has passed inspection. Following the initial inspection, HCD is required to do an annual inspection to coincide with recertification of the tenant. If there are deficiencies, landlords are given a minimum of thirty days written notice to make repairs, unless the repairs are life threatening. Items which normally can present a problem are inoperable smoke detectors, burners on the stove or oven which do not light, chipping or peeling paint, and screens which are not in good condition on all windows. The HQS inspection covers basic items in the home such as hot and cold water, electrical outlets in each room, refrigerator and stove, heating, etc. Landlords are encouraged to inspect their units on a regular schedule to monitor how the tenant is maintaining the unit, and to inspect the property each year prior to the HCD inspection to make any repairs that might fail inspection.
Effective September 15, 1999, HUD published regulations concerning the abatement of lead paint in all types of housing. The rule became effective September 15, 2000. The rule covers the elimination of possible lead poisoning from houses built prior to 1978. HUD has granted a one year transition period until September 15, 2001 for all properties built after 1960 and receiving only tenant-based assistance. If you have any concerns about HUD's rule concerning lead paint you may contact HUD at:
Lead Paint Compliance Center
Office of Healthy Homes and Lead Hazard Control
Department of Housing and Urban Development
451 7th Street, SW
Washington, DC 20410-0500
Their toll-free phone number is 1-866-HUD-1012 or contact the Environmental Protection Agency or HUD.
- Landlords can charge whatever security deposit they charge private market tenants up to two months contract rent.
- Following the initial lease, landlords can request a rent increase by giving the housing authority and tenant at least 60 days written notice. The rent requested must be reasonable according to similar properties in the same complex or subdivision.
Potential and Current Housing Choice Voucher Landlords
HCD conducts Landlord briefings to assist landlords in becoming familiar with the Housing Choice Voucher program and regulations. The briefings are held at 3700 Pender Drive, Fairfax, VA 22030. Please call 703-246-5280 to make a reservation if you would like to learn more about the program. Briefings include such topics as rent increases, landlord-tenant legal responsibilities, and eviction procedures.
Briefings for Housing Choice Voucher landlords are acheduled throughout the year. Please check back for future offerings or call 703-246-5280 for additional information.
Advantages of Leasing to a Housing Choice Voucher Participant
- Receive regular monthly payments from HCD which will cover a significant portion of the rent
- Units are kept occupied and profitable
- Landlords screen and select tenants they choose
- HCD will work with you to advise and assist if you have any problems concerning your tenant
- If tenant's income is reduced, their portion of rent will be adjusted and the Housing Assistance portion will be increased
- Participants are screened by HCD for prior criminal activity
- You can receive a tax deduction for rental property. IRS can provide you with Publication #527 for more information
- You will be providing the most important ingredient in a person's life - stable housing
- You are contributing to solving community problems related to the housing crisis.
Resources for Landlords
(Source: Washington Post)
- IRS Publication 527, Residential Rental Property, www.irs.gov or 800-829-3676
- Becoming a Landlord by Fannie Mae. Available through the Consumer Resource Center, 800-732-6643. Ask about training classes available in selected cities.