Author Archives: Krikit Bounds

  1. How do I find a rental property with a Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher?

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    How do I get a voucher to move?

    If you are in the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) program and want to move to a new rental property, you must first ask PHA to send you a printed voucher and Request for Tenancy Approval (RFTA) form.

    Timing matters. Here’s when you can ask for a voucher to move:

    • At Recertification/End of Lease. Near the end of any 2-year lease term, you may request a voucher to move during your regular recertification. Submit your request online or send a Transfer Request at Recertification to your service representative. You should get the voucher once your recertification is complete.
    • Outside Recertification/During Lease. To get a voucher during your lease, you need a reason. Submit your request online or send a Transfer Request Outside Recertification to your service representative along with documentation of your reason. Here are valid reasons for getting a voucher during the lease:
      • Lease Termination. If a landlord sent you a lease termination or eviction notice, you may request a voucher to move based on the lease termination.
      • Agreement to Terminate Lease. If you and your landlord agreed to end the lease, you may request a voucher to move using a signed and notarized Mutual Dissolution of Lease
      • Reasonable Accommodation for Disability. If you need to move for reasons related to a disability, you may request a voucher using a doctor’s note or PHA reasonable accommodation request form
      • Domestic Violence. If you need to move for reasons related to violence in the home from an intimate partner or family member, you may request a voucher using a Protection from Abuse (PFA) petition/order or a Self-Certification of Domestic Violence
    • 60 Days After Failed Inspections. If your unit fails two PHA inspections, then PHA will stop subsidy payments to your landlord. If your unit still hasn’t passed inspection 60 days after payments stopped, then PHA is required send you a voucher.

    I have the voucher. Now where do I look for a rental property?

    You can use your voucher to rent any rental property in Philadelphia as long as:

    1. The rental property passes PHA’s housing quality inspection.
    2. PHA agrees to the rent amount the landlord is advertising.
    3. The rental property is not public housing or project-based housing.

    Here’s where you can look:

    • Websites:
      • Try Zillow, Craigslist, or Apartments.com.
      • On AffordableHousing.com, you can use the filter “Owner has Experience with the Section 8 / HCV program” to find listings by landlords who are more likely to be familiar with voucher requirements. 
      • On PAHousingSearch.com, consider any Philadelphia property that says “Median Income Based Rent.” These LIHTC developments are required to accept vouchers, but they may have a waitlist.
    • Word of mouth: Ask for ideas from friends and family or, if you have a good relationship with your landlord, ask about recommendations or other properties they have. 
    • On foot: Walk around your desired neighborhoods and look for “For Rent” signs. 

    For additional guidance, see our article on the Private Rental Search Process.

    I found a rental property. How do I know if PHA will agree to the rent being advertised?

    PHA will only let you lease a rental property if the contract rent (total rent) is reasonable. Here are the factors they consider:

    • Zip code. For example, PHA may agree to a higher contract rent for a property in 19102 than a property in 19139 because rents are higher in some zip codes compared to others.
    • Voucher size. For example, PHA may agree to a higher contract rent for a 4-bedroom voucher than a 2-bedroom voucher because rents tend to be higher in larger properties.
    • Utilities. For example, PHA may agree to a higher contract rent for a property where all utilities are included than a property where the tenant must pay for gas, electric and water.
    • Tenant income. For example, PHA may agree to a higher contract rent for a tenant with higher income because a higher income tenant is allowed to pay more out-of-pocket for rent and utilities–up to 40% of their monthly income.

    The PHA Payment Standard tells you the maximum amount PHA will agree to for rent and utilities, broken down by voucher size and zip code. For a rough estimate of the contract rent PHA will agree to for a specific voucher size in a specific zip code, subtract around $150 from the payment standard.

    I found a rental property. What is the leasing process?

    Here are the steps to leasing a rental property with your voucher:

    1. Provide the Voucher and Request for Tenancy Approval (RFTA) to the landlord. Fill out the RFTA together and ask the landlord to upload it to the PHA landlord portal to start the leasing process.
    1. If your landlord is new the program, encourage them to complete PHA’s owner certification requirements in a timely manner.
    1. Wait for PHA to inspect the property and approve the rent amount. This usually takes around 4-6 weeks depending on whether the property passes inspection the first time.
    1. Sign the Lease and Housing Assistance Payment Contract with your landlord. 

    What do I do if a landlord refuses to accept my voucher?

    Landlords in Philadelphia may not deny an applicant housing solely because they have a Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher. Refusal to rent to someone with a Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher may be discrimination based on Source of Income. Source of Income discrimination is prohibited by the Fair Practices Ordinance in the City of Philadelphia.

    If anyone refuses to rent to you solely because your rent is subsidized by a housing voucher, you can file a discrimination complaint with the Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations (PCHR).

    1. File a complaint. Fill out a Housing and Property Discrimination Complaint form and submit it to the Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations, 601 Walnut St., Suite 300 South, Philadelphia, PA 19106.
    2. Seek legal representation for your complaint through the Public Interest Law Center by emailing Madison Gray mgray@pubintlaw.org.

    If PCHR determines that your prospective landlord has engaged in source of income discrimination, the landlord may be ordered to rent to you, to pay you compensatory damages, or to pay you up to $2,000 in punitive damages.  

    My voucher is expiring, and I cannot find a place. Can I get an extension?

    PHA generally issues vouchers that are valid for 90-120 days. If you need more time to find a rental property, you can ask for an additional 30 days due to extenuating circumstances or reasons related to a disability. There is no definite limit to the number of extensions you can request, particularly if your delay in finding a rental property is related to a disability.

    Near your voucher expiration date but before your voucher expires, submit an extension request through the PHA HCV Tenant Portal or email your service representative a signed Request for Voucher Extension.

  2. What is the status of my landlord’s EDP application?

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    Landlords must successfully submit an application for EDP and participate in good faith for a least 30 days before attempting to evict through court. You can check the status at any time here https://eviction-diversion.phila.gov/#/Status

    The landlord’s Applicant ID starts with the letters “EVP” and then 9 numbers or letters. The EVP number is provided in all communication with the program including texts and emails. Ask the landlord to confirm the applicant ID.

    If you are scheduled for an eviction court hearing, check the status online.  Compare with the information below.  If landlord participation is incomplete, you may show this status at court as a possible legal defense.  Show the landlord and ask the landlord to explain.  Show the trial commissioner or speak with the judge. 

    Some common status outcomes and next steps

    Participation in Eviction Diversion Program is NOT Complete:

    Your landlord may NOT proceed to eviction court if the status of your application is any of the following.

    • Application currently under review. The landlord submitted an application and the application is pending review. Contact your landlord to negotiate an agreement. Landlords must negotiate in good faith for at least 30 days following the approval of an application.
    • Request has been denied. The landlord’s application was denied and the landlord may correct the existing application or be instructed to submit another application. Confirm if the landlord submitted another application with a new Applicant ID number. Present this outcome at court and request the landlord participate in EDP in good faith.
    • Assigned for direct negotiation. You have 30 days to communicate directly with your landlord to prevent eviction. Some additional information is included in the status including if rent or fees requested, the amount of rent or fees, the end of the lease term and other possible issues the landlord wishes to address. More resources visit https://phillytenant.org/eviction-diversion-direct-negotiation-pathway/
    • Your request has been approved. You have been selected for additional help to work with a housing counselor and be assigned a mediation date. Contact the Save Your Home Philly hotline right away at 215-334-4663 and choose option #3. Resources for counseling are limited. 
    • Participation in Eviction Diversion Program is NOT complete. The landlord must take further steps to complete the Eviction Diversion Program. You may show this outcome to the court and ask the landlord be sent back to the Program to complete participation. Continue to seek an agreement with the landlord and reach out for legal help.

    Participation in Eviction Diversion Program is Complete:

    • Agreement reached by parties. You reached an agreement. If you are able to maintain this agreement, the landlord should not seek to evict you through the legal process. Bring a copy of your agreement and proof of payments to court. You may ask the court to dismiss or remove the landlord’s complaint because you have an active ongoing agreement. Ask for legal help at court from the Lawyer of the Day.
    • Participation in the Eviction Diversion Program is complete. The landlord has successfully applied for the Program and 30 days have passed. If you have not reached an agreement, the landlord may proceed through the legal process of eviction. For further help visit https://phillytenant.org/eviction-notices/
  3. Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC)

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    Income and Rent Limits

    • Income Limits. Affordable units in LIHTC developments are assigned a percentage of Area Median Income (AMI) in Philadelphia—usually 20%, 30%, 40%, 50% or 60%—which represents the maximum income the tenant household can have at lease signing to rent the unit. For example, a LIHTC development in Philadelphia with a 2-bedroom unit assigned at 50% AMI can be leased by a tenant with annual household income less than $47,450 in 2022.
    • Rent Limits. Unless there is an additional project-based or tenant-based subsidy, maximum tenant rents in LIHTC developments are based on the Area Median Income (AMI) in Philadelphia, not the tenant’s household income. For the example above, the cost of rent and utilities for the 2-bedroom unit assigned at 50% AMI cannot exceed $1186 in 2022. LIHTC developments may increase rents annually as the median income in Philadelphia rises, even if the tenant’s household income stays the same.
    • Additional Subsidies. If a tenant lives in a LIHTC development and their rent is based on their household income, then they may have a project-based or tenant-based subsidy in addition to the LIHTC program rent limits. To find out which subsidy may apply to your development or unit, look up your rental property or subsidy program.
    • For current rent and income limits in Philadelphia, see PHFA Rent & Income Limits.

    Recertifications

    • Regular Recertification. LIHTC tenants recertify their household information and income every year. They can submit information and documents by mail or in person at the management office.
    • Interim Recertification. LIHTC tenants are not required to report changes to their household or income between recertifications. However, if the tenant receives an additional project-based or tenant-based subsidy, they may be required to report household or income changes.
    • For more information about recertifications in LIHTC housing, review the Low Income Housing Tax Credit Renters Guide or PHFA Low Income Housing Tax Credit Manual.

    Transfer/Moves

    • Requesting transfer. Tenants who want to move from their LIHTC unit or development may submit a request to their property manager. However, tenants can only be transferred to another unit within the same development or another development managed by the same owner. In addition, tenants may only transfer to a unit for which they are income-eligible based on the income and rent limits described above.

    Repairs

    • Requesting repairs. LIHTC tenants may request repairs by phone or by mailing a letter to the management office or owner.
    • Complaint Line. Tenants may submit complaints regarding repairs or other administrative issues by visiting Multifamily Asset Managers or calling (877) 253-7709.
    • For more information about a tenant’s legal rights to address repair issues, go to Repairs.

    Eviction

    • Good Cause Protection. LIHTC owners must renew LIHTC leases at the end of a lease term and can only terminate a lease for non-payment of rent or breach of a condition of the lease.
    • For additional information about the eviction process, go to Evictions.

    Rules and Regulations

  4. Can I get a PHA inspection?

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    How do I request a PHA inspection?

    1. Call PHA Inspections at 215-684-3860.
    2. Email PHA Inspections at hcvinspection@pha.phila.gov.

    How does the PHA inspection process work?

    It can take 2-4 weeks for PHA to inspect unless you request an emergency inspection for serious issues like no heat. Landlords have 24 hours to correct emergency violations and 30 days to correct other violations. Landlords who do not correct violations may stop receiving rental subsidy payments.

    How will a PHA inspection help me?

    In most cases, PHA inspections can help you:

    1. Prove there are repair issues in your rental property.
    2. Pressure your landlord to make repairs.
    3. Prepare to file a Fair Housing Commission complaint, if the landlord retaliates. (link)

    What are the risks?

    If PHA stops rental subsidy payments for over 60 days, they may require you to move.

  5. Can I get an L+I inspection?

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    How do I request an L+I inspection?

    1. Call 311.
    2. Submit a request online.
    3. Visit City Hall Room 167.

    How does the L+I inspection process work?

    It can take up to 3 weeks for L+I to inspect unless you request an emergency inspection for serious issues like no heat. An adult must be home at the time of inspection, and you may not get advance notice. Landlords generally have 35 days to resolve any violations. After 35 days, L+I should reinspect. If the property is still in violation, L+I should refer the case to the City Solicitor for court.

    How will an L+I inspection help me?

    In most cases, L&I inspections can help you:

    1. Prove there are repair issues in your rental property.
    2. Pressure your landlord to make repairs.
    3. Prepare to file a Fair Housing Commission complaint, if the landlord retaliates. (link)

    What are the risks?

    In rare cases, if L+I inspects and determines that a rental property is over occupancy (zoning violation, such an unlicensed rooming house) or hazardous to human life (serious risk of fire or collapse), then L+I can move to Cease Operations at the property and force everyone to leave.

  6. City of Philadelphia Bridge Housing Subsidy Program

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    Recertifications 

    • Regular Recertification. Bridge Voucher tenants recertify their household information and income every two years. They must submit information and documents to their tenant services coordinator. Some Bridge Voucher tenants may also have to recertify annually with their property manager for compliance with the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit program. 
    • Interim Recertification. If there are changes in household size or income between recertifications, the tenant must request an interim recertification with their tenant services coordinator within 3 weeks of the change. 
    • Rent Calculation. Bridge Voucher tenant rent is calculated as approximately 30% of their monthly income minus a utility allowance. All tenants who pay for utilities have a utility allowance included in their rent calculation. 
    • For more information about recertifications in the Bridge Voucher program, talk to your tenant services coordinator or get legal help. 

    Transfers / Moves

    • Requesting transfer. Tenants who want to move from their Bridge Voucher unit must request a voucher to move from their tenant services coordinator. The Bridge Program will not issue a voucher to move if the tenant owes rent to the landlord.
    • Reasons for Transfers. Tenants can request a transfer on the following basis: 
      • End of Lease. Near the end of any 2-year lease term, a tenant may request a voucher to move during their regular recertification. 
      • Agreement to Terminate Lease. If a landlord and tenant agree to end the lease, the tenant may request a voucher to move using a signed agreement to terminate the lease. 
      • Reasonable Accommodation for Disability. If a tenant needs to move for reasons related to a disability, the tenant may request a voucher using a doctor’s note. 
      • Domestic Violence. If a tenant needs to move for reasons related to violence in the home from an intimate partner or family member, the tenant may request a voucher using evidence such as a Protection from Abuse petition (PFA) or self-certification. 
      • Failed Inspections. If a unit fails multiple inspections by the Office of Homeless Services, then the Bridge Program may issue a voucher to the move to the tenant. 
    • Moving Out. If a tenant is evicted or moves out of a Bridge Voucher unit voluntarily, they may keep their subsidy. However, if the Bridge Program determines that the tenant got a court judgment for non-payment or rent or breach of lease, then they may move to terminate the tenant from the Bridge Voucher program. 
    • For more information about transfers in the Bridge Voucher program, talk to your tenant services coordinator or get legal help. 

    Repairs

    • Requesting repairs. Bridge Voucher tenants may request repairs by phone or by mailing a letter to the landlord or property manager. 
    • Inspections. OHS inspects Bridge Voucher units every two years. Tenants may ask their tenant services coordinator to request an inspection. The Bridge Program may stop payments to the landlord after multiple failed inspections. 
    • Complaint Line. Tenants may submit complaints regarding repairs or other administrative issues by contacting the Office of Homeless Service at 215-686-4700 or ohs-generalinfo@phila.gov
    • For more information about a tenant’s legal rights to address repair issues, go to Repairs

    Eviction

    • Third Party Complaint. If a landlord sues to evict a tenant for non-payment of rent owed by the Bridge Program, then the tenant may file a 3rd Party Complaint against PMHCC to bring them into the eviction case as an additional defendant. 
    • For additional information about the eviction process, go to Evictions.

    Subsidy Termination

    • Grounds. The Bridge Program may terminate a tenant’s subsidy for failing to follow program rules. Common reasons for termination include: failure to recertify, failure to comply with a payment agreement, failure to maintain utilities or other breach of the lease agreement. 
    • Hearing Process. Tenants have the right to appeal a program termination by requesting an administrative hearing from the Office of Homeless Services. If the tenant loses at the administrative hearing, they have the right to appeal the decision to the Court of Common Pleas. 

    Rules & Regulations

    The Bridge Program is a funded by the City of Philadelphia, so unlike federally subsidized housing programs, the rules and regulations are not published. To learn more about the rules and regulations, tenants should review their Bridge Voucher Program contracts including their lease agreement, contact their tenant services coordinator or get legal help. 

  7. Rapid Rehousing Voucher

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    To find out if you are in a Rapid Rehousing Program, you may look up your program.

    Recertification

    • Regular Recertification. Since Rapid Rehousing assistance is time-limited, tenants must only certify their income at the beginning of their tenancy 
    • Interim Recertification. If there are changes in household size or income during the first year of tenancy, Rapid Rehousing tenants must ask their case manager or program manager for an interim recertification within 30 days to add/remove a household member or adjust their rent according to the new household income. 
    • Rent Calculation. Rapid Rehousing tenant rent is calculated as approximately 30% of monthly income minus a utility allowance. All tenants who pay for utilities must have a utility allowance included in their rent calculation. 
    • For more information about recertifications in Rapid Rehousing, go to the HUD Handbook 4350.3, Chapters 5 and 7. 

    Transfers / Moves

    • Requesting transfer. Tenants who need to move from their rapid rehousing property before the end of their 12-month lease may ask their case manager or program director to transfer their assistance to a new rental property. Such transfers can be difficult because the program may only be able to offer a subsidy for the number of months remaining on the lease. The Office of Homeless Services (OHS) may also facilitate a transfer to a different unit or a different Rapid Rehousing program as need arises. 
    • Domestic Violence Transfers. If a tenant needs to move for reasons related to violence in the home from an intimate partner or family member, the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) requires the Rapid Rehousing program to assist with transferring the subsidy to a new unit. The Office of Homeless Services may also assist with such transfers. 
    • Moving Out. If a tenant moves out of a Rapid Rehousing unit voluntarily, they do not automatically lose their housing subsidy and can request to lease up a different unit with the subsidy for the number of months remaining on the lease.

    Repairs

    • Requesting repairs. Rapid Rehousing tenants may request repairs by phone or by mailing a letter to the management office or owner. They may also ask their case manager to advocate on their behalf. 
    • Inspections. The Office of Homeless Services may inspect the property, issue violations and stop subsidy payments to the owner, if the property does not meet Housing Quality Standards. 
    • Complaint Line. Tenants may submit complaints regarding repairs or other administrative issues by contacting the Office of Homeless Service at 215-686-4700 or ohs-generalinfo@phila.gov
    • For more information about a tenant’s legal rights to address repair issues, go to Repairs.

    Subsidy Termination

    • Due Process Protection. In terminating assistance to a Rapid Rehousing program participant, the program must provide a formal process that includes providing written notice of termination, a review of the decision in which the program participant is given the opportunity to present written or oral objections, and prompt written notice of the final decision. This decision is appealable to the Court of Common Pleas. 
    • Hard to House Population Protection. The program providing Rapid Rehousing for hard-to-house populations of homeless persons must exercise judgment and examine all extenuating circumstances in determining when violations are serious enough to warrant termination so that a program participant’s assistance is terminated only in the most severe cases. 
    • For additional information about the termination process see the Continuum of Care Interim Rule Section 578.91
  8. PHA Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) Program

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    Recertifications

    • Regular Recertification. PHA Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher tenants recertify their household information and income every two years. They can submit information and documents online through the MyHousing Recertification Portal, by mail or in person at 2013 Ridge Ave. Important note: some PHA Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher tenants will also have to recertify annually with their property manager for compliance with the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit program.
    • Interim Recertification. If there are changes in household size or income between recertifications, PHA Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher tenants may request an interim recertification to add/remove a household member or reduce the rent. Tenants do not need to report increases in income between recertifications unless they told PHA they had zero income at their last recertification. Tenants can request an interim recertification through the HCV Client Portal, by emailing their PHA service representative or by going to 2013 Ridge Ave.
    • Rent Calculation. PHA Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher tenant rent is calculated as approximately 26-28% of their monthly income minus a utility allowance. All tenants who pay for utilities have a utility allowance included in their rent calculation. 
    • For more information about recertifications in the PHA Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher Program, go to the PHA Administrative Plan, Chapters 8, 9, 10 and 16. 

    Transfers / Moves

    • Requesting transfer. Tenants who want to move from their PHA Housing Choice Voucher unit must first obtain a physical (or in some cases digital) voucher to move from PHA. Requests can be submitted online, by mail or in person at 2013 Ridge Avenue. 
    • Reasons for Transfers. Tenants can request a transfer on the following basis: 
      • End of Lease. Near the end of any 2-year lease term, a tenant may request a voucher to move during their regular recertification and should receive it once their recertification is complete. 
      • Lease Termination. If a landlord sends a tenant a lease termination or eviction notice, the tenant may request a voucher to move based on the lease termination.  
      • Agreement to Terminate Lease. If a landlord and tenant agree to end the lease, the tenant may request a voucher to move using a signed and notarized Mutual Dissolution of Lease. 
      • Reasonable Accommodation for Disability. If a tenant needs to move for reasons related to a disability, the tenant may request a voucher using a doctor’s note or PHA reasonable accommodation request forms. 
      • Domestic Violence. If a tenant needs to move for reasons related to violence in the home from an intimate partner or family member, the tenant may request a voucher using a Protection from Abuse (PFA) petition/order or a Self-Certification of Domestic Violence. 
      • Failed Inspections. If a unit fails two PHA inspections, then PHA will stop subsidy payments to the landlord. If the unit still hasn’t passed inspection after 60 days of stopped payments, then PHA is required issue a voucher to the move to the tenant. 
    • Moving Out. If a tenant is evicted or moves out of a PHA Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher unit voluntarily, they may keep their subsidy. However, if PHA determines that the tenant owes a money judgment and is not on a current payment agreement or that the tenant breached a provision of their lease agreement, then PHA may move to terminate the tenant from the Section 8 Housing Choice voucher program. 
    • For more information about transfers in PHA Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher housing, go to the PHA Administrative Plan, Chapter 17. 

    Repairs

    • Requesting repairs. PHA Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher tenants may request repairs by phone or by mailing a letter to the landlord or property manager. 
    • Inspections. PHA inspects Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher units every two years. Tenants may request a PHA inspection by phone 215-684-2285 or by email hcvinspections@pha.phila.gov. PHA is required to stop payments to the landlord after two consecutive failed inspections. 
    • For more information about a tenant’s legal rights to address repair issues, go to Repairs.

    Eviction

    • Third Party Complaint. If a landlord sues to evict a tenant for non-payment of rent owed by PHA, then the tenant may file a 3rd Party Complaint against PHA to bring them into the eviction case as an additional defendant. 
    • For more information about the eviction process, go to Evictions.

    Subsidy Termination 

    • Grounds. PHA may terminate a tenant’s subsidy for failing to follow program rules. Common reasons for termination include: failure to recertify, unauthorized occupants, abandonment of unit, failure to comply with a payment agreement, failure to maintain utilities or other breach of the lease agreement. 
    • Hearing Process. Tenants have the right to appeal a program termination by requesting an administrative hearing. If the tenant loses at the administrative hearing, they have the right to appeal the decision to the Court of Common Pleas. 
    • For more information about the terminations in the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher Program, go to the PHA Administrative Plan, Chapter 20.

    Rules & Regulations 

    The PHA Administrative Plan outlines the rules for the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher program. 

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