Going Over 120% Fair Market Rent in a Request for a Higher Payment Standard

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Art: Robin Mead

When you make a request for a higher payment standard with a Housing Choice Voucher, there is a limit on how much your local HUD office can easily approve. This number is based on something called a fair market rent.

If you aren’t sure if yours can be approved, you can just submit the request and see what happens. Or you can do a bit of math and learn more yourself:

What’s Fair Market Rent

If you would like to look up the fair market rate in your area, here’s where you can find it on the Fair Market Rent Charts on the HUD website.

Fair market rent includes utilities. It is calculated the same way that payment standards are, so don’t forget to take utilities into account.

Staying Under 120%

Your local housing authority can easily approve up to 120% of Fair Market Rent. For example if the market rate for a two bedroom in your area is $1000, then your local housing authority can approve you to go up to $1,200 as long as it is still within “Rent Reasonableness”

Going About 120%

If you request to go above that amount, they will need to send your request to a higher office and get a higher level of approval.

We have not heard from any readers who have attempted to do this, so we do not know how likely it is to be approved or how long it will take to get an answer. If you have made a request over 120%, please comment below to share your story.

It may be difficult for an apartment that is over 120% to still meet the criteria for rent reasonableness, but it depends on the area.

The HUD policy on Payment Standards includes a list of what documents the Housing Authority will need to send HUD for this kind of request. You may wish to put this together for them and include it in your request to help things go more smoothly.

In addition, the guidelines state that for HUD to review payment standard requests over 120%, the number of bedrooms in the proposed apartment, must match the number on the voucher. If the apartment has more bedrooms than the voucher, HUD states should not submit this request for higher approval, but can instead consider a decision based on the payment standard for higher number of bedrooms (a request that does not require a higher level of approval).

Is it really 120%?

Some housing authorities are having confusion about how high a payment standard they are allowed to approve. This is because HUD has released various different notices switching between 110% and 120% and then switching back again. You may be able to avoid this issue, or address this issue if it comes up, by enclosing with your request a copy of the latest HUD policy on exceptions to payment standards. It is number 5.3 in the HUD policy on Payment Standards.

Learn More

This page is part of the online guide: Epic Master List of Disability Accommodation Letters

Facebook Group: HUD and Section 8 Disabled Residents & Family Members

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