Rental Assistance Participant Rights and Responsibilities

September 24, 2021

Once you get a voucher from Tacoma Housing Authority (THA), you have 60 days to use it. In that time you must find a place to rent using the voucher. The reason for this deadline is to make sure that you use the voucher. If you cannot use it, thousands of other families on the waiting list are ready to use it. THA may extend the deadline if you can show us that you have made a good faith effort to find housing. In general, THA may extend the deadline for another 60 days. There is no guarantee that THA will extend or that a family will be able to use its voucher.

It is the family’s responsibility to find a place to rent from a landlord who is willing accept them as a tenant and who is willing to participate in THA’s Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) Program. THA can help you with this by providing a list of local properties that are available for rent and whose owner is willing to accept the voucher. There may be other ways we can help.

You are not allowed to pay more than forty percent (40%) of your family’s monthly-adjusted income towards your portion of the rent when you first move into a new unit. Families should attempt to rent a unit with the rent and utilities at or below the established payment standard, or they run the risk of THA having to disapprove the unit.

HCV Program participants are responsible for paying their security deposit to the owner. DSHS or other local agencies may be able to assist you with part or all of your deposit.

Any unit rented under the HCV Program must be decent, safe, and sanitary and meet Housing Quality Standards (HQS). For this reason, THA will inspect the dwelling before it will agree to help with the rent. It will also re-inspect the dwelling at least annually for the same reason.

THA will give a voucher only to families in good standing with THA. If you owe money to THA , you must first pay it or make acceptable payment arrangements before you will get a voucher.

You may not use a voucher to rent a unit from anyone who is a parent, child, grandparent, grandchild, sister or brother of a household member. THA will make exceptions only as a reasonable accommodation for a disabled family member. If you wish to request a reasonable accommodation, call or visit your Lease and Occupancy Specialist.

You may also use a voucher to help you with the mortgage payment on a home you are buying. If you are interested in doing this, speak with your Lease and Occupancy Specialist. THA allows this for a limited number of vouchers.

Tenant Rights and Responsibilities

Families on the voucher program have important rights and responsibilities. You must comply with the lease and your duties as a tenant, including:

  • Paying your tenant portion of the rent on time and in full
  • Maintaining the unit in good condition
  • Refraining from criminal behavior

When THA asks you for information, be truthful and complete. THA will ask for information about your family and circumstances, including:

  • Information needed for regular or interim re-examinations of family circumstances and income
  • Documentation of the Social Security number of all participants
  • Completion and signing of consent and agreement forms needed to verify your income and family circumstances

Some Things the Family Must Do

  • If you damage your unit or cause it to fail a THA inspection, you must fix or pay for the repair.
  • You must allow for THA to inspect the unit at reasonable times and after reasonable notice.
  • You must notify THA and the owner in writing before moving or terminating the lease with the owner.
  • You must promptly give THA a copy of any eviction or other notice served upon you by the landlord.
  • You must only use your unit as a residence and as the only residence of the family.
  • Members of the family may engage in legal profit-making activities within the dwelling (if the lease permits), but only if those activities are incidental to the primary use of the unit as a residence and acceptable to the landlord.
  • The members of the family also may not receive another housing subsidy for either the same or another unit.
  • You must promptly inform THA of any change in household composition (meaning who lives with you) and obtain THA approval in advance to add a family member by any means other than birth, adoption or court-awarded custody of a child.
  • You must notify THA of any absence from the unit and comply with THA policies governing absence from the unit.

Some Things the Family May Not Do

  • The family may not sublet the unit, assign the lease, or have any ownership interest in the dwelling.
  • Participants may not commit fraud, bribery, or any other corrupt or criminal act in connection with any assisted housing program.

Annual Recertification and Inspection

Once a year, THA certifies that participating households are still eligible for the program and re-determines the amount of rent subsidy they will receive. The annual review begins several months before the lease anniversary. THA must complete the review by the anniversary date to continue the subsidy. At the annual review, THA re-verifies the household’s income and composition. If anything has changed in the family’s circumstances, THA will adjust the tenant portion of the rent or the utility subsidy as needed. THA must also inspect the dwelling unit.

Why Must I Have an Annual Re-certification?

The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) which funds the Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) Program, says THA must do an annual review for every household on our program. This is to make sure that households are still eligible for the program and that they are getting the correct amount of rental assistance.

Why Must I Have an Annual Inspection?

THA inspects each subsidized unit once a year. It does this to make sure it is in good repair. The HCV Program does not want to pay for housing that is unsafe or otherwise not up to good standards. THA uses HUD’s Housing Quality Standards (HQS). THA’s inspector will visit to inspect the home at or about the same time as the family’s annual review. The head of household or a responsible person over age 18 must be present during the inspection must be present during the inspection. The owner does not need to be present.

  • Require the tenant to refrain from damaging the property
  • Take legal action to evict a voucher holder for lease violations

The owner has the responsibility to:

  • Screen prospective tenants and determine whether they would be good tenants.
  • Maintain the property in good condition.
  • Provide the voucher holder with information about lead-based paint in the unit.
  • Complete needed repairs within a reasonable time. Complete emergency repairs within 24 hours. These include no hot or cold water, heat, electricity or a condition which is imminently hazardous to life.
  • Give the tenant 48 hours notice before entering the unit, except for emergencies.
  • Comply with Washington State Landlord-Tenant Law.
  • Comply with the lease and Housing Assistance Payments Contract.
  • Send THA a copy of any written notices or communications he has had with the tenant, especially about lease violations.
  • Submit requests to THA for rent increases in writing at least 60 days prior to the participant’s anniversary date and to notify the tenant of the request.