What is the Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) Program? The Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) program assists low-income families to afford safe, decent, and sanitary homes. As an HCV program participant, you will pay the owner or property manager a portion of the rent for the unit you live in and HCV program will pay the rest. Congress created the Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) program by passing a law called the Housing and Community Development Act of 1974. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) gives money to Public Housing Authorities (PHAs) to run the HCV program. Congress passes laws and HUD establishes regulations that PHAs must follow. The Miami-Dade Public Housing and Community Development (PHCD) is the local PHA that administers the HCV program within the boundaries of Miami-Dade County. Locally, the program is known as the Miami-Dade Housing Choice Voucher (MDHCV) program.
What will I have to do as a voucher holder in the HCV Program? You will do the following things as a part of the program:
- Apply for the program and be eligible for assistance
- Attend a voucher briefing to learn about the program and its rules and regulations
- Sign a voucher committing to follow the rules and regulations of the program
- Search for a unit (apartment, house, etc.) within the specified time limit and advise MDHCV of the unit you want to rent
- MDHCV will review the rent to ensure it is affordable to you and that the owner is not overcharging based on the rents of comparable unassisted units
- MDHCV will inspect the unit to ensure it meets housing quality standards (HQS)
- When the unit passes inspection and MDHCV approved the unit, you will sign a lease with the owner
- Move into the unit and follow the owner’s lease and all program requirements
- Pay your portion of the rent to the owner/property manager on time
- Attend annual interviews, participate in annual reexaminations, and allow HQS inspections of your unit, as required
- Report any changes in income to MDHCV and any changes in your family size to MDHCV and the owner
Who are the partners of the HCV Program?
1. U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)
- Signs contracts with PHCD providing authority to administer the MDHCV program
- Provides funds to PHCD for the administration of the MDHCV program
- Writes regulations and other information that carry out and explain housing laws
- Monitors MDHCV to ensure it follows HUD regulations
2. Miami-Dade Public Housing and Community Development (PHCD) and Miami-Dade Housing Choice Voucher (MDHCV) Program
- Administers the day-to-day activities of the HCV program
- Approves the family, unit, the owner
- Ensures that the family and the unit continue to qualify for the HCV program
- Enforces HCV program policies and HUD regulations with owners, applicants, and participant families
- Conducts Housing Quality Standards (HQS) inspections
- Provides housing assistance payments (HAP) to owners on behalf of HCV families
3. Property Owners/Managers
- Apply for the program and be eligible for assistance
- Attend a voucher briefing to learn about the program and its rules and regulations
- Sign a voucher committing to follow the rules and regulations of the program
- Search for a unit (apartment, house, etc.) within the specified time limit and advise MDHCV of the unit you want to rent
- Screens and chooses families that will make good tenants
- Collects security deposit, rent, and other amounts owed by the participants
- Adheres to the terms in the HAP contract, tenancy addendum, and lease
- Enforce the terms of the lease
- Allow MDHCV to inspect the unit
- Maintain utilities and appliances provided by owner according to the lease
- Keep the property in good condition by making repairs regularly and on time
- Comply with fair housing and landlord/tenant laws
4. Participant Families
- Provide MDHCV with complete and accurate information
- Find a place to live that is suitable for their family
- Follow the program regulations, family obligations, and the terms of the lease
- Allow MDHCV and the owner to inspect the unit and make necessary repairs
- Pay rent to the owner on time
- Maintain all utilities and appliances not supplied by the owner
- Keep the unit in decent, safe, and sanitary condition
- Cooperate in attending all appointments with the MDHCV
- 2020 Allowances for Tenant-Furnished Utilities and Other Services
- A Good Place to Live
- Change of Agent / HAP Payee
- Change of Management
- Change of Ownership
- Ethics Commission Request for Approval (for County employees)
- Ethics Commission Request for Approval (for family of County employees)
- Expanding Opportunities
- Housing Assistance Payments Contract including Landlord Responsibilities
- Housing Quality Standards (HQS) - Tenant & Landlord Self Inspection List
- Equal Housing Opportunity
- Informal Hearing - Review Request
- Intent to Move - Change of Dwelling Request
- Landlord Certification of Responsibility
- Late Payment Penalty Claim
- Lead Based Paint Disclosure Form
- Lost Check Replacement Form
- Owner Consent Form
- Owner/Agent Change of Address
- Owners Packet - Request for Tenancy Approval
- Owner Self-Certification Form
- Request for Interim Recertification
- Request for Rent Increase
- Request for Replacement Check
- Request for Voucher Extension Form
- RTA Request for Tenancy Approval
- Tenant Change of Mailing Address Form
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What is a reasonable accommodation? A reasonable accommodation is a change to a policy or procedure that ensures people with disabilities have equal access to MDHCV’s program. A requests for reasonable accommodation must be directly related to the disability and must not cause MDHCV to waive essential program regulations or impose an undue administrative and financial burden to MDHCV. MDHCV is required to consider all requests but is not obligated to approve every request. If a family wishes to request an accommodation, they may do so at any time, including during initial application, while they live in a unit subsidized by the MDHCV, and even during termination procedures. MDHCV considers hundreds of requests for reasonable accommodation per year. Examples of some reasonable accommodation requests include, but are not limited to:
- Assistance when filling out forms for the MDHCV or receiving them in an accessible format such as braille or audio
- Granting extended time for finding appropriate housing (voucher extension)
- Providing sign language interpretation for meetings with MDHCV
- Approving an additional bedroom in a unit for a live-in aide
- Providing increased rental assistance if necessary for finding an accessible unit
How do I make a request? To request an accommodation, you simply need to make MDHCV aware of your request. This may be done in-person, over the phone, or in writing. If you would like to use our form to request an accommodation you may download it from http://www.Miamidade.gov/housing. To make your request orally you can visit our offices or you may contact a customer service representative at the MDHCV’s Customer Service Call Center by calling 305-403-3222 (TTY: 1-800-955-8771.). In some cases, MDHCV may need a release, consent, or other related form to be signed by you in order to verify the requested accommodation. However, MDHCV will assist you in completing any forms we may need. Once you submit a request to MDHCV, the request will be reviewed and a decision will be rendered within a reasonable time and typically within 30 days. If additional information is required or information essential to a decision is missing, it will take additional time to come to a decision, and you may be contacted to provide the necessary information. Such information may include certification from a knowledgeable professional (i.e. physician, nurse, psychiatrist, etc.) about your disability or the need for the accommodation. If your request is not approved, you can request a hearing with MDHCV to discuss alternatives or provide us with more information.
What do I do if I need a physical modification in order to rent an apartment? Some people with disabilities may require structural changes to their housing in order to access it. Examples of reasonable modifications that can be made to a unit or building are:
- Widening doorways or passageways for a person who uses a wheelchair
- Installation of ramps or motorized lifts
- Placing flashing strobe lights to alert people with sensory impairments of the doorbell or fire alarm
- Installing protective plastic on walls to prevent damage from wheelchairs
Owners have the right to approve the work that needs to be done to make the unit or building accessible. When you move from the unit or building, they may require that the unit/building is left in the same condition as it was when you first leased it. An example may be that grab bars that were installed for your use need to be removed and the walls might have to be patched and painted.
Violence Against Women Act (VAWA)
What is VAWA? The Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013 (VAWA) and Florida law limit the ability of the owner or MDHCV to evict you or terminate your assistance in certain instances related to domestic violence. The law says that MDHCV and the owner may not consider actual or threatened acts of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, sexual battery, or stalking as a reason for terminating your tenancy, occupancy, or program assistance if you are the victim of these types of violence. The law does not just apply to women; it applies to any individual, tenant, or lawful occupant living in the household who is a victim, including men and children.
Requesting to Move
What do I do if I want to move within Miami-Dade County? You can move and continue receiving rental assistance once the initial 12-month term of your lease is over, or any time after that (if you’re in a month-to-month lease) as long as you give MDHCV and
the owner or property manager proper notice. MDHCV will only give you permission to move if you are not violating the lease or any of the program rules. In some cases, MDHCV may allow you to move before you’ve lived in your unit for 12 months.
If you want to move, contact the Customer Care Department at 305-403-3222 and submit your request over the phone. Otherwise, you can complete an Intent to Move – Change of Dwelling Request form at our offices. This will start the process of getting you a voucher so that you can begin the move process.
What if my building or unit is in foreclosure? If your building or the unit where you reside is in foreclosure, there are a few things to keep in mind.
You must continue to pay your rent. Never stop paying your rent, even if you receive notice that your unit is in foreclosure. Continue to pay your rent to the current landlord until you receive instructions from the new owner or lender. If you receive information about a new landlord, you should supply this information to MDHCV immediately.
You do not have to move. If you are in a lease, you can stay in the unit until your lease ends. You are not required to request moving papers. If the lender does plan to cancel your lease, you have rights. Laws protect you from sudden eviction if a lender forecloses the building or unit in which you live. To learn more about these rights, you contact Legal Services of Greater Miami, Inc. at 305-576-0080 or visitwww.legalseverciesmiami.org. If you are not in a lease, you can request to move. If you receive a notice from the lender to vacate because of a foreclosure, contact the MDHCV Customer Service Call Center.
What if I want to move outside of the Miami-Dade County area? With some restrictions, both applicants and participants are eligible to move to a different unit in a different housing authority’s jurisdiction and have their rental assistance move with them. Portability allows you to use your voucher to rent a unit anywhere in the United States where there’s a housing authority that runs a Housing Choice Voucher program. To port to another area, you will need to inform MDHCV by contacting the MDHCV Customer Service Call Center as well as give the owner proper notice of your intent to vacate under your lease. Keep in mind that when you port, you will not only need to meet MDHCV’s requirements (the initial housing authority), you will also need to meet the requirements of the housing authority in the location you are moving (receiving housing authority) as well. Some housing authorities have different screening criteria’s, subsidy standards (voucher size), payment standards, and utility allowances that may impact your assistance.
How do I port to another housing authority’s jurisdiction? The list below gives you facts about the porting process:
- If you are an applicant on the waiting list, and have a legal residence in Miami-Dade when you applied for MDHCV’s HCV waiting list, when you get to the top of the waiting list and MDHCV issues you a voucher, you can use that voucher to port to another area without first using your voucher in Miami-Dade County.
- If you are an applicant and you did not have a legal residence in Miami-Dade when you applied for the HCV waiting list, you must first use your voucher in Miami-Dade County and lease up for a year, unless for MDHCV makes and exception and allows you to move sooner. Otherwise, you can request to port at the end of your initial lease term.
- If you are a participant, you can only port if you wouldn’t be breaking your lease. In other words, if you’re in a one-year lease, you have to wait until the end of the lease term to request a voucher to port, subject to some exceptions listed above in the moves section.
The housing authority you want to port to may have different rules, policies, and deadlines than MDHCV. Just because you are eligible to participate on MDHCV’s program, doesn’t necessarily mean that you will be eligible to participate on another program. This may impact your assistance and could result in you losing your voucher. You should think carefully about the following differences before you request a voucher to port:
- If you’re an applicant, you must be under the income limit in the area to which you are moving.
- The receiving PHA may have different subsidy standards that cause your voucher size to increase or decrease.
- The receiving PHA may have different policies on voucher issuance. They may issue their vouchers for a longer or shorter period than MDHCV and may have different requirements for how to request extensions. Be sure to ask the receiving housing authority about their policies on voucher issuance at the time they issue you your voucher.
- Before you are issued a voucher by the other agency, you may have to have another interview and submit documentation to them.
- The receiving PHA may have different screening criteria for drug abuse, criminal activity, and other discretionary denials. Their screening criteria might be stricter than MDHCV’s.
- Your portion of the rent and your utility allowance will likely be different since the receiving PHA will likely have different payment standards and utility allowances.
- MDHCV or the other housing authority can terminate you from the program while you port if you violate any rules.
- MDHCV recommends that you visit the new area that you want to move to before porting. Once you’ve been issued a voucher to port, if you decide that you no longer want to move to that area, and instead want to rent a unit elsewhere or come back to MDHCV’s jurisdiction, you need to let MDHCV know during the term of your voucher. If your voucher expires and you haven’t leased a unit anywhere, you may lose your assistance.
MDHCV will assist you by giving you the contact information for another agency where you’ll be moving. Once you lease up in another housing authority’s jurisdiction, you will no longer have a voucher with MDHCV. Your voucher with MDHVC may only be reinstated if you port your voucher back to Miami- Dade County.
Searching for a Unit
How do I find housing? At the voucher issuance briefing, you will learn the bedroom size for which your family qualifies under MDHCV’s subsidy standards and approximately how much rental assistance you will receive from. You can find information about available housing in a number of places, including:
- Using www.gosection8.com which is the largest affordable housing listing service in the country
- Using other online apartment guides such as www.apartmentguide.com, www.apartmentfinder.com, or www.forrent.com
- Asking for help at the MDHCV program office. Printed landlord listings are available in the lobby
- Talking to friends, neighbors, or co-workers who know of available units
- Talking to real estate agents
- Looking at ads in newspapers such as the Miami Herald, SunSentinel, and El Nuevo Herald
- Or, simply going to the neighborhood you want to move into and looking for “For Rent” signs
Can I find a unit that is smaller or larger than my voucher? While you are allowed to choose a unit with a different number of bedrooms than what’s listed on your voucher, MDHCV pays out subsidy on your behalf to the owner based on either the number of
bedrooms on your voucher or the unit size you select, whatever is smaller. You can select a unit that’s smaller than what’s listed on your voucher as long as the unit isn’t overcrowded. This means that there cannot be more than two people (heartbeats) per living/sleeping room in your unit. If there are, MDHCV will not approve your unit. If you select a unit that’s larger than what’s listed on your voucher, you may have to pay more rent to the owner since MDHCV will only pay subsidy on your behalf up to the amount that corresponds with your voucher size.
What should I bring with me when looking for a unit? When you go to visit the unit, below are a few things you may want to have available:
- Your voucher
- Request for Tenancy Approval (RTA) packet
- Photo Identification
- Names and phone numbers of your references
- Income Information
- Contact information for the owner or property manager of your current apartment
How do I let MDHCV know that I found a unit? With your voucher you received a packet called the “Request for Tenancy Approval” which is also known as the RFTA or the RTA. Provide this document to the owner and have him/her complete it and sign it. It’s very important that the owner complete all fields and leave nothing in blank. Once the form is complete then the Head of Household (HOH) must also sign the form. The HOH or the Owner must submit the request to MDHCV. However, it is the family’s responsibility to ensure the request gets submitted prior to the expiration date of the voucher (including any extensions).
How do I turn in my request for tenant approval (RTA)? Either you or the owner may submit the competed Request for Tenancy Approval (RTA) package to MDHCV. Packets may be turned in one of several ways:
- Email to firstname.lastname@example.org
- Fax to 786-358-5893
- In-person at the MDHCV offices located at: 7400 Corporate Center Drive, Bay H, Miami, FL, 33130
IMPORTANT: All questions and fields on the RFTA must be completed. Incomplete RFTA may delay the processing of your selected unit. If this is the owner’s first time participating on the program, they will also need to fill out a new vendor package which will be provided to you when your voucher is issued or can be accessed on MDHCV’s website.
What are the advantages of using my voucher in a low-poverty area? Using your voucher in a low poverty area has many advantages. Research shows that moving to areas of low-poverty concentration has strong positive physical and mental health effects. Families
living in these areas for a longer period had an increased likelihood of finding employment and having higher incomes, and their children also had higher scores in school and were more likely to enroll in college.
How do I know how much rent I can pay for a unit? MDHCV determines how much they will pay the owner on your behalf based on what’s called a payment standard which is the maximum amount of subsidy MDHCV can pay for a particular unit size. The amount MDHCV uses to calculate your subsidy is the lower of the actual number of bedrooms in the unit you select or number of bedrooms on your voucher. For example, if you were issued a 1-bedroom voucher, but you select a 2-bedroom unit, MDHCV use the 1-bedroom payment standard to determine how much they will pay the owner. If you were issued a 2-bedroom voucher but selected a 3-bedroom unit, MDHCV would use the 2-bedroom payment standard.
Once you know which payment standard will be used, you can figure out how much rent you’ll pay. The amount MDHCV pays to the owner on your behalf is called a housing assistance payment (HAP). The maximum amount of HAP that MDHCV will pay the owner is the lower of the payment standard for your voucher size or the gross rent for your unit (the rent plus the utility allowance) minus your income-based total tenant payment (TTP).
For example, if you choose a 2-bedroom unit and have a 2-bedroom voucher, the payment standard for your unit is $1,235. If the rent the owner is asking for plus the utility allowance for the unit (gross rent) is $1,300 ($1,000 in rent plus $300 utility allowance) MDHCV will use the 2-bedroom payment standard of $1,235 to calculate HAP since that’s lower than the $1,300 gross rent. If you choose a different two-bedroom unit where the rent plus the utility allowance (gross rent) is $1,000 ($900 rent plus $100 utility allowance) than MDHCV will use that amount to calculate HAP since it’s lower than the $1,235 payment standard.
How do I know if my unit is affordable? Normally, your share of the rent and utilities will equal 30% of your monthly adjusted income. However, if you decide to rent a unit where the rent plus the utility allowance (gross rent) is more than the applicable payment standard, you will be responsible for paying the difference and may pay more than 30% of your monthly adjusted income for your rent and utilities. MDHCV may still let you rent the unit in this case, but they will make sure the unit will be affordable for you.
HUD defines affordable as paying no more than 40% of your monthly adjusted income toward rent and utilities. If you do choose a unit where the gross rent is more than MDHCV’s payment standard, and it turns out your share of the rent and utilities would not be affordable, MDHCV is required to disapprove the unit, unless the owner is willing to lower the rent to a level where it would be affordable for you.
Keep in mind, MDHCV cannot determine whether the unit you select is affordable until you choose a unit. MDHCV will let you know your TTP as part of the briefing.
How does MDHCV decide if the rent for a unit is reasonable? MDHCV will compare the rent that the owner is asking for the unit to the rent for similar unassisted units to make sure that the owner’s requested rent is not too high. To do this, MDHCV considers a number of things like location, amenities, affordability, condition, and utilities.
How does MDHCV decide how much they will pay the owner? MDHCV can only determine how much assistance will be provided once you have selected a unit and turned in your completed Request for Tenancy Approval (RTA).
Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) The amount of rent that MDHCV pays to an owner on behalf of the family is called a Housing Assistance Payment (HAP). Depending on your income, MDHCV may only pay a portion of the total rent and you pay the remaining portion. MDHCV decides the amount of the HAP based on your household income, the tenant paid utilities, and the amount of rent asked for by the owner.
Gross Rent and Payment Standard As discussed earlier, MDHCV uses the smaller of two numbers to calculate the HAP — the gross rent for the unit or the payment standard for your family. The gross rent is the owner’s requested rent for the unit plus your utility allowance for the tenant paid utilities.
How does MDHCV calculate how much rent I’ll pay? The rent you pay in your new home will be based on your income and how much the owner charges in rent.
Housing Quality Standards (HQS) Inspections
What are Housing Quality Standards (HQS) inspections? MDHCV inspects every voucher holder’s unit before the unit is allowed on the program. Units that voucher holders want to rent must be decent, safe, and sanitary. During an HQS inspection, the inspector visits the unit to see that it qualifies under the HCV program. The unit must pass this inspection before MDHCV will sign a HAP contract with the owner.
Do I need to attend the initial inspections? You will not need to attend the initial inspection, but MDHCV recommends that you keep in touch with the owner during the process. MDHCV will notify you when the unit passes or fails an inspection.
Will my unit be inspected after I move in? Yes, your unit must continue to meet Housing Quality Standards (HQS) during your tenancy. This will keep your home safe, healthy and comfortable. Inspectors sent by MDHCV will visit your unit at least once a year to make sure it is decent, safe and sanitary.
Annual Inspections HUD regulations require that MDHCV inspect all assisted units each year. Every year MDHCV will
need to conduct another inspection of your unit. Each year before the anniversary date of your last inspection, MDHCV will mail you and the owner a letter with an inspection date. If a unit fails the annual inspection, the inspector will determine whether you or the owner is responsible for the failed item. If the owner is responsible, they must make the repair, and have it re-inspected within a specific timeframe. Otherwise, MDHCV will abate, or stop paying, the housing assistance payment (HAP) to the Owner until the item is repaired and the unit passes inspection. You are not responsible for paying any additional rent during this time. You will continue to pay your portion of the rent. Do not make any additional payments to the owner if HAP is not being paid to the owner by MDHCV. If it is determined that you are responsible for the failure, you must make the repair or work with the owner or property manager to have (and if necessary, pay for) the item repaired and have it reinspected within the specified timeframe. Otherwise, MDHCV may terminate your assistance.
Quality Control Inspections Quality control inspections are conducted by MDHCV to determine that the HQS are uniformly applied and interpreted by all inspectors.
Complaint Control Inspections The complaint inspection will be conducted to investigate complaints about HQS matters as requested by tenants, owners, and the general public.
24 Hour Emergency Inspections If an inspector discovers a serious failure that threatens the health or safety of the participant, the failure items must be corrected within 24 hours.
If the owner is responsible for the life-threatening violation and does not fix the issue within 24 hours, MDHCV will stop the HAP to the owner. If you are responsible for the life-threatening violation and do not repair the problem within 24 hours, MDHCV will begin termination proceedings.
Approving a Unit
How do I know if my unit was approved? Once a Request for Tenancy Approval (RFTA) is submitted, MDHCV is required to verify that the unit passes inspection, the rent is reasonable, the rent is affordable to you, and that the owner is eligible to participate in the program. Once MDHCV verifies all necessary information, it will provide you with an approval to sign a lease and move into the unit. You can contact Customer Care at any time to check the status of your unit approval.
What happens if my unit never passes inspection? If the unit never passes inspection, is denied by PHCD, or cancelled by you or the owner, then MDHCV will grant you additional search time on your voucher. The additional search time is based on MDHCV’s processing time for the denied unit. This is calculated from the day you turned in the RFTA to the date you received notice by MDHCV that the unit was denied. The amount of processing days are added at the end of your current voucher term as an extension to the expiration date.
What is the lease? A lease is a contract between you and the owner of your unit. MDHCV is not a party to the lease. The lease will state rules you must follow while living in the unit, the monthly rent for the unit, the utilities that you must pay, and other important information. The lease must comply with state and local landlord/tenant law and will include the HUD-required Tenancy Addendum.
When do I sign the lease? NEVER sign your lease until MDHCV approves the unit. MDHCV will notify you and the owner when the unit has passed inspection and the rent has been approved. Once the inspection and rent are approved, MDHCV may authorize you to sign the lease. You will then work with the owner to sign the lease, schedule a move-in date, and arrange to get your keys. You will likely also pay your security
deposit at that time. IMPORTANT: You must receive the keys on or before the lease start date. It is a serious program violation for the owner to delay the issuance of keys after the lease effective date. Your failure to report it may also constitute a serious program violation.
What is the Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) Contract? The HAP contract is a contract between MDHCV and the Owner. The family is not a party to the HAP contract. The contract outlines the owner’s obligation while receiving subsidy on your behalf. The contract also contains the Tenancy Addendum which contains many provisions to protect you
When is the HAP contract signed? Owners will typically will not sign a lease until MDHCV signs the Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) Contract. Therefore, you may be scheduled to attend a HAP signing appointment. During the appointment, MDHCV will review the lease that the family and owner signs to ensure it meets program requirements. Once it is signed, MDHCV will sign the HAP contract with the owner.
What is a security deposit? A security deposit is an amount of money given to and held by the owner in the event that you fail to pay rent or pay for any damage to the unit caused by your tenancy. You will likely give the owner a security deposit when you sign your lease. If there is excessive damage to the unit or you have unpaid rent when you move out, the owner will deduct the total amount from your security deposit. If
you keep the unit clean and do not cause any excessive damage to the unit, you should receive your full security deposit when you move out.
How much can the owner charge me for security deposit? The security deposit should not exceed the greater of: 1) one month’s rent, or 2) your family share of the first and last month’s rent. The first and last month rent (which is based on your family share) can only be charged if the owner can demonstrate that they also charge unassisted tenants the first and last month’s rent as security deposit.
Can the owner charge me to repair damages? The owner of your unit cannot charge you for slight damage from normal use. For example, the owner cannot charge you for small scuffs or scratches on the hallway wall. However, they can charge you for damages beyond normal wear and tear such as a hole in the wall. State landlord/tenant law governs how much the owner is allowed to charge you.
How do I make sure I don’t pay for damages that are not mine? To protect your security deposit, MDHCV recommends that you take careful note of the condition of the unit when you move in. You should also take pictures of any damages if you can. This will help
you make sure the owner does not charge you for damages caused by people that lived in the unit before you.
Where can I get more information on state landlord and tenant law? Title VI, Chapter 83 of the Florida Stature contains the Tenant Landlord Act. Legal Services of Greater Miami, Inc. also has helpful information on their website: http://legalservicesmiami.org
What are reexaminations? Participants must have their income and family composition reexamined annually by a MDHCV housing specialist — this is called an annual reexamination. As part of your annual reexamination, your MDHCV housing specialist will make sure you are receiving the level of assistance for which you qualify. When the time comes for your annual reexamination, MDHCV will send you a Reexamination Notice
telling when your annual reexam is due. You will receive this notice at least 10 days before your reexam is due. The notice will provide you with the option to attend an in-person interview or provide additional information on how to complete your annual reexam without coming into the office. If you have any questions or need a reasonable accommodation, please contact the MDHCV Customer Service Call Center at 305-403-3222.
Please review your packet and follow the instructions carefully. Sign and date all forms that require your signature and be sure to answer each question completely. You may be required to attend an in-person appointment. If you cannot, you need to contact the MDHCV Customer Service Call Center one day prior to your scheduled appointment. In addition, all family members 18 years of age and older must attend the appointment. When required, failure to attend your appointment twice is a violation of your Family Obligations and could result in your termination from the HCV program.
Any documents submitted by you and used for verification must be dated within 60 calendar days of the date MDHCV requests them. The documents must not be damaged, altered or in any way illegible. A housing specialist will review your documents and contact you if additional information is required. Be sure to provide all the information MDHCV asks for an answer all questions completely and truthfully. Once MDHCV receives all of your information, the housing specialist will check your income information using HUD’s national online computer system (known as Enterprise Income Verification (EIV)) to verify the amounts you reported. See page 64 for more information on EIV.
After a housing specialist evaluates the information you provide, we will recalculate your total tenant payment (TTP) and the amount of assistance MDHCV will provide on your behalf. As long as you provide your reexamination documents within the allotted timeframe, you will receive 30-day notice of these recalculations. If you fail to provide required documentation and signatures on forms or fail to participate in the annual reexamination process, your assistance may be terminated.
What is an interim reexamination? An interim reexamination is a reexam that occurs at a time other than your regularly scheduled annual reexamination. MDHCV will conduct an interim reexamination if there is a change in the size of your household or a change in your income.
Changes in Income You must report all changes in income within 10 days of the change. MDHCV will conduct an interim reexamination if there is a decrease in your income. Although you are required to report income increases, depending on the type of increase, MDHCV may choose not to include the new income until your next annual re-examination. Failure to report changes in income within 10 days may result in termination of your assistance. A Request for Interim Recertification form can be found on page on MDHCV’s website at www.miamidade.gov/housing.
What are my obligations while participating in the program? When your unit is approved, and the HAP contract is executed with the owner, you and all of the members of your household must follow the rules listed below in order to continue participating in the Housing Choice Voucher program. Things the family MUST do:
- Supply any information that MDHCV or HUD determines to be necessary including evidence of citizenship or eligible immigration status and information for use in a regularly scheduled re-examination or interim re-examination of family income and composition.
- Disclose and document Social Security numbers and sign and submit consent forms for obtaining information.
- Supply any information requested by MDHCV to verify that the family is living in the unit or information related to family absence from the unit.
- Promptly notify MDHCV in writing when the family is away from the unit for an extended period of time in accordance with MDHCV policies.
- Allow MDHCV to inspect the unit at reasonable times and after reasonable notice.
- Notify MDHCV and the owner in writing before moving out of the unit or terminating the lease.
- Use the assisted unit as the family’s only residence.
- Promptly notify MDHCV in writing of the birth, adoption or court-awarded custody of a child.
- Request written approval from MDHCV to add any other family member as an occupant of the unit.
- Promptly notify MDHCV in writing if any family member no longer lives in the unit.
- Give MDHCV a copy of any owner eviction notice.
- Request and obtain MDHCV approval before adding a live-in aide to the household.
- Supply true and complete information at all times.
Things the family MUST NOT do:
- Own or have any interest in the unit (unless in the Homeownership program).
- Commit any serious or repeated violation of the lease.
- Commit fraud, bribery or any other corrupt or criminal act in connection with the Federal Housing programs.
- Engage in or allow guests to engage in drug-related criminal activity or violent criminal activity or other criminal activity that threatens the health, safety or right to peaceful enjoyment of other residents and persons residing in the immediate vicinity of the premises..
- Sublease or let the unit or assign the lease or transfer the unit.
- Receive Housing Choice Voucher program housing assistance while receiving another housing subsidy, for the same unit or a different unit under any other federal, state or local housing assistance program.
- Receive Housing Choice Voucher program housing assistance while residing in a unit owned by a spouse, parent, child, grandparent, grandchild, sister or brother of any member of the family, unless MDHCV has determined (and has notified the Owner and the family in writing of such determination) that approving rental of the unit, notwithstanding such relationship, would provide reasonable accommodation for a family member who is a person with disabilities.
- Engage in abuse of alcohol in a way that threatens the health, safety or right to peaceful enjoyment of the other residents and persons residing in the immediate vicinity of the premises.
- Engage in or allow guests to engage in any criminal behavior that disturbs the peaceful and quiet enjoyment by others of the premises and the neighborhood. 10.Threaten or engage in or allow guests to threaten or engage in abusive or violent behavior toward MDHCV personnel or its representatives.
- Threaten or engage in or allow guests to threaten or engage in abusive or violent behavior toward MDHCV personnel or its representatives.
- Be a lifetime registered sex offender in any state or territory of the United States.
- Be convicted of a drug-related crime for the manufacture or production of methamphetamine on the premises of federally assisted housing.
How do I pay my utilities? Utilities for which you are responsible must be paid directly to the utility company. If you do not maintain the utility service or the utilities are disconnected or MDHCV receives information that you are tampering with a utility to illegally obtain service, this may result in a recommendation for termination from the HCV program. If the utility allowance for your unit exceeds your TTP, MDHCV will provide you with a utility reimbursement payment on a Utility Reimbursement Card every month in order to help you pay your utilities.
What special programs does MDHCV offer? Not only does MDHCV help you afford quality housing for you and your family, MDHCV offers programs and services to help you achieve personal goals, such as working toward homeownership through the Homeownership program and accomplishing career goals and saving money through the Family Self-Sufficiency program.
Family Self Sufficiency (FSS) Program The Family Self Sufficiency (FSS) program is a HUD program that enables families assisted through the housing choice voucher (HCV) and public housing (PH) programs to increase their earned income by obtaining or advancing employment opportunities and building financial assets for the future. FSS is a HUD program that allows participants to build financial assets as their household income increases from employment. Participation generally lasts five years during which participants identify educational, professional and personal goals. Hundreds of MDHCV families have graduated from the FSS program and found rewarding careers in hospitality or customer service, real estate, education, and medical fields. FSS graduates have used the money saved during the program to make down payments on homes, purchase cars, pay off debt, start businesses, and more. If you are selected to participate in the FSS program, MDHCV will execute a 5-year FSS Contract of Participation with you that specifies the rights and responsibilities of both parties and the goals and services for your family. You will work with an FSS coordinator to be connected to services to assist you with completing your goals. Some of the services coordinated for the family may include: child care, transportation, education, job training, employment counseling, financial literacy, and homeownership counseling, among others. An interest-bearing escrow account will be established by MDHCV for each participating family. Any increases in your rent as a result of increased earned income during your participation in the program will result in a credit to your escrow account. Once you successfully graduate from the program, you can access the escrow and use it for any purpose. However, if the FSS contract is terminated, or if you fail to complete it before the expiration date, you lose the escrow funds. Interested families can request information by calling the Customer Service Call Center at 305-403- 3222. Applications will be mailed and/or emailed to interested families. Applications for the FSS program are considered on a first come, first serve bases as space becomes available.
HCV Homeownership Program The Homeownership program gives participants the option to purchase a home (single family dwelling, condominium unit, or manufactured unit) using their voucher subsidy in Miami-Dade County. The goal of the program is to provide homeownership opportunities, along with counseling, self-sufficiency training and support. If you participate in this program, homeownership assistance will be provided for a maximum of 10 or 15 years. If your family is an elderly or disabled family, there is no time limit. To learn more about the Homeownership program, HCV participants can call the Customer Service at 305-403-3222, sign-up in the MDHCV lobby.
Termination of Assistance
What is termination of assistance? A termination is MDHCV removing a participant from the HCV program. HUD requires MDHCV terminate a participant for certain violations of the family obligations and when a participant is no longer eligible for assistance. If you have your assistance terminated, you will no longer receive rental assistance from MDHCV. However, before MDHCV terminates your assistance, you will receive
an Intent to Terminate notice which states the reason you might be terminated, when the termination will be effective, and that you have the right to request an informal hearing with MDHCV to discuss your termination.
Criminal Activity When you or your guests engage in criminal behavior, you not only break the law, you also violate
your lease and the family obligations listed on your voucher. Remember, if you engage in criminal behavior, you risk losing your MDHCV assistance.
If any member of your household, your guests or any person under your control commits a crime, the owner might evict you and MDHCV may terminate your assistance. It does not matter if there is an arrest or a conviction related to the crime. All that matters is if the criminal activity occurred. While a record of arrest(s) cannot be used as the basis for the termination of your assistance, an arrest may, trigger an investigation to determine whether the participant
actually engaged in disqualifying criminal activity.
Informal Reviews and Hearings
I am an applicant, what are my rights if I am denied admission or I am removed from the waiting list? Applicants denied admission or removed from the waiting list may request an Informal Review within thirty (30) days of MDHCV notifying the applicant in writing that they were denied or removed. To request an informal review and obtain the informal review request form, please visit our website at http://www.miamidade.gov/housing/waiting-list-hcv.asp#6 . If you do not have internet access, call the PHCD HCV Division at 786-469-4237, to request a form be mailed to you. Return the completed form to PHCD Contract Administration Division, 701 NW 1ST Court, 14th floor, Miami, FL 33136 or
by fax to 786-469-4222. You may bring witnesses and/or legal counsel or other representation to the informal review. Informal reviews are conducted by a staff member not involved in making the decision to reject or withdraw your application.
I am a participant, what are my rights if I disagree with a decision made by MDHCV? To appeal a decision, you will need to request an Informal hearing. You have 15 business days from
the date of the notice of a decision to request an informal hearing. You can request a hearing for the
- A denial or termination of your assistance
- Changes in your total tenant payment (TTP), rent portion, payment standard, or utility allowance
- The determination of your unit size (number of bedrooms)
- A delay, denial or termination of your assistance because of immigration status
Additional Information is available to you online at www.miamidade.gov/housing and www.hud.gov.