Landlords in the private market can lease their apartments to families in the Massachusetts Rental Voucher Program (MRVP). The program is state funded and administered by Marshfield Housing Authority (MHA). The process of renting to a family in the Massachusetts Rental Voucher Program (MRVP) program is similar to renting to a family in the private market – the landlord screens and selects tenants, collects rent and maintains the property.
Participating in the Massachusetts Rental Voucher Program (MRVP)
When you rent an apartment to a MHA MRVP holder you become a MHA landlord.
How it Works
Eligible families will receive a “Voucher” from MHA. The Voucher will state the number of bedrooms the family is eligible for. The Families must find housing within a certain time frame of receiving a Voucher, usually 120 days. You may ask to see the family’s Voucher.
MHA screens Voucher holders for program eligibility only – to determine how much rent MHA will subsidize and how much rent the tenant will pay on their own. As in the private market, the property owner is responsible for screening applicants for suitability as tenants. Selecting tenants, whether Voucher holders or not, is limited only by fair housing requirements and the prohibition of discrimination as established by federal and state law.
What Steps are Involved in Renting to a Family with a Voucher?
Step 1: Request Tenancy Approval
If you choose to rent to a family with a Voucher, complete the Request for Tenancy Approval (RTA) package and return the package to MHA. Once we receive the RTA package we will conduct an analysis to determine if the rent is reasonable for that unit under program guidelines and affordable for the voucher holder. MHA will also ask that you certify that you are the present owner of the property and provide a copy of the registered deed with the book and page number listed by the county’s Registry of Deeds. If the deed is more than 10 years old, MHA will ask you to provide a copy of the property’s current tax bill.
Step 2: Agree on Rent
Under the Housing Choice Voucher program guidelines even if the rent is reasonable for that unit under the Fair Market Rates for the area, it must also be affordable for the tenant. You will make a rent agreement with MHA and the tenant that meets both of those goals. At this time, you will know how much MHA will pay you each month for the Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) and how much the tenant will pay you. The HAP and tenant share will equal the total contract rent.
Step 3: Inspection
The land lord is responsible for contacting the town of Marshfield to have an inspection of the unit completed. The landlord must provide written verification to MHA.
Step 4: Sign the Lease
Once the unit passes inspection, you will be contacted by the Housing Search Specialist to set an agreed upon move in date for your new tenant. The lease is between the landlord and the new tenant. If you have lease of your own you may use it or if you do not have a lease available, a standard lease will be provided by the Marshfield Housing Authority. Under Massachusetts law, you may take a security deposit equal to one month’s rent once the lease is signed.
Step 5: Sign the MRVP Contract
The Housing Assistance Payments Contract is your agreement with the Marshfield Housing Authority. It guarantees you the subsidy payment and other benefits as long as the family remains in the apartment. The HAP contract is between the landlord and the Marshfield Housing Authority. The assigned Leasing Officer will coordinate the signing of the HAP contract.
Step 6: Your Tenant Moves In!
What Happens After I Rent to the Family?
Every year, MHA will determine whether the family is still eligible for the Massachusetts Rental Voucher Program (MRVP). A change in the family’s income or size may result in a change in their share of the rent and subsidy payment.
You may request an increase in the rent annually (as stated in your lease), but MHA must determine that the requested amount is reasonable in comparison to other market rate apartments in the same building and neighborhood.
Can the Lease be Terminated, if Necessary?
Whether you use your own lease or a standard lease provided by MHA, the lease will state what circumstances all for termination of the lease and how much notice you must give your tenant if you want to terminate the lease. The eviction process is the same for a family with a Voucher and an unassisted family. You may consult an attorney or bring the matter to the local Housing Court. You do not need MHA’s permission to evict a tenant who is in violation of the lease. You should send MHA copies of the eviction notice or any other lease violation documents.
Benefits and Responsibilities
What are the Benefits of Renting to a Tenant with a MRVP Voucher?
- MHA will pay the rent subsidy every month, on time and guaranteed.
- You are protected from financial loss if your tenant suffers unexpected financial hardship which reduces the tenant’s income. When this happens, the subsidy payment is increased to compensate for your tenant’s lower income, provided MHA is notified of the income change in a timely manner.
- If you attempt to evict a tenant for good cause, you will continue to receive MHA’s portion of the rent until the tenant leaves the apartment or is evicted.
Are there any Additional Responsibilities Placed on Owners when Participating in the Massachusetts Rental Voucher Program (MRVP)?
The Housing Choice Voucher program requires little beyond that which is required by law. Property owners have the same responsibility to enforce leases and maintain the property for Housing Choice Voucher subsidized tenants as they do for non-subsidized tenants.
Similarly, Housing Choice Voucher tenants have all the rights and responsibilities of unassisted tenants, except that they are responsible for only paying a portion of the rent. As with unassisted tenants, irreconcilable differences between the owner and the tenant must be settled by the Housing Court.
Are there any Restrictions?
Federal law does not allow MHA to approve an apartment for rental when the owner is the parent, child, grandparent, grandchild, sister, or brother of the Voucher holder or of any member of the Voucher holder’s family. The only exception is if the apartment would provide reasonable accommodation for a member of the Voucher holder’s family who is a person with a disability.