How to Become a Landlord
Landlords in the private market can lease their apartments to families in the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher Program. The program is federally funded and administered by Boston Housing Authority (BHA). The process of renting to a family in the Section 8 Housing Voucher Choice program is similar to renting to a family in the private market – the landlord screens and selects tenants, collects rent and maintains the property. ..
Participating in the Housing Choice Voucher Program
When you rent an apartment to a BHA Section 8 Voucher holder you become a BHA landlord.
You may use BHA’s “List an Apartment for Section 8” tool when you have an apartment available for rent. Once you create an account, you can add listings for any apartment you have available for rent within BHA’s service area. BHA will advertise your vacant apartment(s) on this website for up to two months.
How it Works
Eligible families will receive a “Voucher” from BHA. The Voucher will state the amount of rent BHA will pay directly to the landlord. The remaining portion is the responsibility of the tenant. Families must find housing within a certain time frame of receiving a Voucher, usually between 120 and 240 days. You may ask to see the family's Voucher.
BHA screens Voucher holders for program eligibility only – to determine how much rent BHA will subsidize and how much rent the tenant will pay on their own. As in the private market, the owner is responsible for screening applicants for suitability as tenants. Selecting tenants, whether Voucher holders or not, is limited only by fair housing requirements and the prohibition of discrimination as established by federal and state law.
What Steps are Involved in Renting to a Family with a Voucher?
Step 1: Schedule the Inspection
If you choose to rent to a family with a Voucher, complete the Request for Tenancy Approval form and have the family hand deliver the form back to BHA. Three days after the form has been submitted, call (617) 522-0048 to schedule an inspection.
Step 2: Agree on Rent
After the inspection has been conducted and the apartment has been approved, you will make a rent agreement with BHA and the tenant. At this time, you will know how much BHA will pay you each month (the Voucher amount) and how much the tenant will pay you. This amount should add up to the total rent.
Step 3: Sign the Lease
Once the rent is agreed on, you will sign a lease with the family. This will be done at BHA's central office at 52 Chauncy Street in Boston.
Under Massachusetts law, you may take a security deposit equal to one month's rent once the lease is signed. The lease is between you and the family.
Step 4: Sign the Housing Assistance Payments Contract
The Housing Assistance Payments Contract is your agreement with BHA. It guarantees you the subsidy payment and other benefits as long as the family remains in the apartment and the apartment remains in compliance with the State Sanitary Code. BHA will also ask that you certify that you are the present owner of the property and provide a copy of the registered deed with the book and page number listed by the county's Registry of Deeds. If the deed is more than 10 years old, BHA will ask you to provide a copy of the property’s current tax bill.
Step 5: Your Tenant Moves In!
What Happens After I Rent to the Family?
Every year, BHA will determine whether the family is still eligible for the Housing Choice Voucher program and whether the apartment is still in compliance with the State Sanitary Code. A change in the family's income or size may result in a change in their share of the rent and subsidy payment. If the apartment is no longer in compliance with the State Sanitary Code, BHA will notify you in writing, and you will be given enough time to make the repairs.
You may request an increase in the rent annually (as stated in your lease), but BHA must determine that the requested amount is reasonable in comparison to other market rate apartments in the same building and neighborhood. Any rent increase may result in the family having to pay the difference between the original rent amount and the increased rent amount.
Can the Lease be Terminated, if Necessary?
Whether you use your own lease or a model lease provided by BHA, the lease will state how much notice you must give your tenant if you want to terminate the lease. The eviction process is the same for a family with a Voucher and an unassisted family. You may consult an attorney or bring the matter to the local Housing Court. You do not need BHA's permission to evict a tenant who is in violation of the lease. You should send BHA copies of the eviction notice.