Housing Choice Vouchers & “Rent Reasonableness”

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Art: Robin Mead

Finally found a place you love? And figured out that it’s within payment standard? And the landlord will take your voucher? And it can pass inspection? You’re done, right? Not so fast…

What’s Rent Reasonableness? 

Before making a final decision, your Housing Authority will check for a special rule called “rent reasonableness”. HUD Policy on Rent Reasonableness.

Most people have no problems with Rent Reasonableness, so if no one is telling you that there is a problem, you probably don’t need to read this page.

Different housing authorities apply the reasonableness rules different ways, but basically it means:

Your Housing Authority will look around at other properties in the same ZIP Code or in the immediate area of the house you want to rent. They will look for something that is similar in terms of size and features. And they will use this to decide whether the place you want has a rent that is appropriate and reasonable for your area.

Having Problems? 

It is pretty rare that we hear from anyone who is having a problem with that reasonableness, but from time to time it does happen. Someone finds a place they like, that is within the payment standard, but it still gets rejected because the Housing Authority states that it doesn’t meet rent reasonableness.

If you disagree with their decision on rent reasonableness, you may be able to appeal or contest this decision, or simply ask them to reconsider.

Try doing your own research and showing other similar houses in your neighborhood that are a similar size with similar features and rent a similar rate. The apartments do NOT have to accept housing vouchers.

You can also request that they provide you with a list of the apartments they used in their determination, along with the features of those apartments. This may allow you to double check that the information they are using is updated and accurate.

Also, double check that the apartments they are looking at are similar to what you are renting. These are the areas they should consider: Location; • Quality; • Size; • Unit type; • Age of the contract unit; • Amenities; • Housing services; • Maintenance; and • Utilities the owner must provide under the lease.

Rent Reasonableness and Higher Payment Standards

If you are requesting a reasonable accommodation for a higher payment standard, the apartment you choose will still need to meet rent reasonableness.

However there is an extra rule that plays in your favor. The Housing Authority is only supposed to consider apartments that are similar to yours PLUS have the same features that you need for your disability. For example, if you require an apartment without stairs or carpet, they’re only supposed to look at other apartments without stairs or carpet.

If your housing authority doesn’t know this rule or doesn’t follow this rule, you can show it to them. It is here:

From the HUD Policy on Rent Reasonableness 2.3 Accessibility For the family that requires an accessible unit, a unit in close proximity to medical services, or a particular unit because of another disability-related reason, the accessible features, location, or other particulars of the unit may justify a higher rent under the rent reasonableness provisions in 24 CFR § 982.507(b)(1). For such families, the rent reasonableness determination must take those features into account. A PHA must permit a higher rent that may be necessary as a reasonable accommodation for persons with disabilities in accordance with Federal civil rights laws

Thanks for Reading

🌸 This page is part of the free online guide: The Sleepy Girl Affordable Housing Survival Guide

🌸 Art on this page by Robin Mead and Elizabeth D’Angelo.

🌸 Page Updated: 1/10/20

🌸 To get daily updates on helpful disability services, and low income programs, follow us on Facebook: The Sleepy Girl Guide.

🌸 Please comment below with stories, ideas, questions or suggestions. Please let us know if any links on this page stop working. Please share this page with others by pressing one of these magic little buttons:

 

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