Affordable housing is a national crisis and Southwest Virginia is no exception. According to a study led by the Virginia Center for Housing Research at Virginia Tech, one in three Virginia households are cost burdened, spending more than 30 percent of their income on housing. The result is hundreds of families or individuals living in unsafe or unstable homes with many unable to pay for housing altogether. Virginia Tech’s researchers also found that the lack of affordable homes will negatively impact our ability to add jobs over the next ten years. (Full study available for download here.)
While the affordable housing crisis may seem overwhelming, there is a way for you to help in your own community. The federal government gives property owners and managers like you the ability to offer affordable housing without risking the profitability of your property. Through the Housing Choice Voucher Program (HCVP), a service made available through the federal government and Virginia Housing, you can help provide safe, stable homes to those who otherwise couldn’t afford it.
At Housing Connections, we are fully prepared to guide you through the process of approval required to open up your property to residents whose HCVP applications have already been approved. We’ll add you to a list of Connected Property Owners who are prepared to help families across their community.
To begin the process, contact your local agency partner to schedule an interview. Required paperwork includes:
After the paperwork is signed, the security deposit and portion of rent is paid, the resident moves in. Shortly thereafter, you receive your first payment from Virginia Housing by direct deposit.
A recent update to Virginia’s Fair Housing Law added a new protected class: Source of Funds.
What Does This Addition to the Law Mean?
A landlord cannot discriminate against a renter based on any source that lawfully provides funds to or on behalf of a renter or buyer of housing, including any assistance, benefit, voucher, or subsidy program. In other words, it doesn’t matter from where a renter obtains his funds, as long as it’s done legally. This includes housing assistance programs.
Who is Classified as a Landlord?
Any person that owns three or more rental properties or employs a rental or leasing agency or management company to administer the property.
What are the Penalties for Violation of This Law?
If the judge or jury finds for the renter, he/she is entitled to compensatory and punitive damages. In other words, they are entitled to any money lost due to the discriminatory action, as well as any fines administered by the Court. The renter is also entitled reimbursement for reasonable legal fees and costs.
Q: Are there benefits of renting to a Housing Choice Voucher resident?
A: Renting to a Housing Choice Voucher resident has several benefits including guaranteed rent paid directly from Virginia Housing each month to the property owner. Depending on several factors, this can be a portion or all of the rent. Another benefit is the required annual inspection which helps ensure the resale value of your property is maintained.
Q: Can I require a security deposit or payment for damages?
A: Yes! Your lease should specify what is required from residents and what the consequences will be if the property is damaged. You may require a security deposit, just as you would for any other resident leasing your property.
Q: Who screens prospective residents?
A: Prospective applicants are screened by your local agency partner to ensure they meet the program’s requirements. Ultimately, you do all the screening of prospective residents, just as you would with any other un-assisted resident.
Q: What determines how much rent I can charge?
A: Your rent rate is determined by what is reasonable for the location of your property in comparison with similar properties in your area.
Q: How much rent comes from the family and how much from the voucher program?
A: The percentage of rent for the family is based on their income. Most often, a family pays 30% of their income and the rest is paid to you by Virginia Housing.
Q: Can I evict someone for non-payment, property damage or another reason?
A: Yes. If residents fail to uphold requirements of the lease, then property owners have the right to evict the resident at any time. Inform your local agency partner at the beginning of the eviction process.
Q: What are my responsibilities as a property owner?
A: Your responsibilities are determined primarily by your lease agreement.
Q: Where can I learn more about Housing Connections and the Voucher Program?
A: Contact us today! We are here to assist property owners from the first step to the last.