Rules for Tenants in Public and Subsidized Housing

Categories :: Housing > Landlord/Tenant

Below is a brief comparison of the types of rules (down) that apply to tenants based on the type of government subsidy (across) received. The first column describes tenants who do not receive a subsidized rent, that is those who pay "market rate." Also see the detailed definitions about each type of tenancy.

How is Rent Determined

  Market-Rate Public Housing Tenant-based Section 8 - voucher can be transferred from one rental unit to another if the tenant chooses to move and follows the proper procedures outlined by the Housing Authority. Project-based Section 8 - A project-based Section 8 voucher is linked to a specific housing development and remains with the development rather than transferring with a tenant who chooses to move outside of the project.

Rental Allowance Program (RAP)

- Generally only for 12 months

Who is eligible Anyone

Public housing is limited to low-income families and individuals. The PHA determines your eligibility based on: 1) annual gross income; 2) whether you qualify as elderly, a person with a disability, or as a family; and 3) U.S. citizenship or eligible immigration status. If you are eligible, the PHA will check your references to make sure you and your family will be good tenants. PHAs will deny admission to any applicant whose habits and practices may be expected to have a detrimental effect on other tenants or on the project's environment.

PHAs use income limits developed by HUD. HUD sets the lower income limits at 80% and very low income limits at 50% of the median income for the county or metropolitan area in which you choose to live. Income limits vary from area to area so you may be eligible at one PHA but not at another. The PHA serving your community can provide you with the income levels for your area and family size.

Generally, if you earn less than 50% of the Area Median Income (AMI) for the area where you live, you can qualify. However, by law, the program is required to target 75% of assistance to families who earn 30% or less of the AMI. Generally, if you earn less than 50% of the Area Median Income (AMI) for the area where you live, you can qualify. However, by law, the program is required to target 75% of assistance to families who earn 30% or less of the AMI. Eligible residents are low-income families who are homeless, in danger of becoming homeless, or in need of emergency housing. Incomes of assisted households cannot exceed 30 percent of the statewide or area median income, whichever is higher.
Property Owner Private owner. PHA. Private owner. Private owner. Private owner.
Contractual Relationship(s) Lease between owner/agent and tenant. Written lease between PHA and tenant. Written lease between owner/agent and tenant AND HAP contract between owner and PHA. Written lease between owner/agent and tenant AND HAP contract between owner and PHA/HUD. Written lease between owner/agent and tenant AND RAP contract between owner and local program.
Property Management Private owner or agent/mgmt company hired by owner. PHA, generally, but agent/mgmt company in certain circumstances (such as HOPE VI mixed-income redevelopments). Private owner or agent/mgmt company, but PHA makes initial, annual, and emergency inspections. Private owner or agent/mgmt company, but HUD makes annual and emergency inspections.
Private owner or agent/mgmt company, but local program makes initial and emergency inspections.
Subsidized Housing? No. Yes. Yes.  Owner receives HAP from PHA Yes.  Owner receives HAP from PHA or HUD Yes.  Owner receives RAP from MD DHCD, through local program.
How Rent is Determined Negotiated between tenant and landlord Your rent, which is referred to as the Total Tenant Payment (TTP) in this program, would be based on your family's anticipated gross annual income less deductions, if any. HUD regulations allow PHAs to exclude from annual income the following allowances: $480 for each dependent; $400 for any elderly family, or a person with a disability; and some medical deductions for families headed by an elderly person or a person with disabilities. Based on your application, the PHA representative will determine if any of the allowable deductions should be subtracted from your annual income. Annual income is the anticipated total income from all sources received from the family head and spouse, and each additional member of the family 18 years of age or older. The formula used in determining the TTP is the highest of the following, rounded to the nearest dollar: (1) 30 percent of the monthly adjusted income. (Monthly Adjusted Income is annual income less deductions allowed by the regulations); (2) 10 percent of monthly income; (3) welfare rent, if applicable; or (4) a $25 minimum rent or higher amount (up to $50) set by the PHA. Tenant generally pays 30% of monthly adjusted gross income to rent and utilities. The PHA pays the owner the difference between 30 percent of adjusted family income and a PHA determined payment standard or the gross rent for the unit, whichever is lower. The family may choose a unit with a higher rent than the payment standard and pay the owner the difference. Tenant generally pays 30% of monthly adjusted gross income to rent and utilities. The PHA pays the owner the difference between 30 percent of adjusted family income and a PHA determined payment standard or the gross rent for the unit, whichever is lower. The family may choose a unit with a higher rent than the payment standard and pay the owner the difference. Tenant pays owner the difference between the subsidy amount and the full rent for the unit including any tenant- furnished utilities
Tenant’s Portion of Rent Rent set forth in lease. Less than market-rate rent for unit.  Rent amount is either a portion of tenant’s net income or flat rent set by PHA. Less than market-rate rent for unit.  Rent amount is a portion of tenant’s net income. Less than market-rate rent for unit.  Rent amount is a portion of tenant’s net income. Less than market-rate rent for unit.  Rental subsidies vary in amount from $180 to $530/month.
Can Tenancy be Ended w/o Cause? Only by agreement of parties. No. No. No. Yes.
Applicable Regulations   24 C.F.R. § 960
24 C.F.R. § 966
24 C.F.R. § 982 24 C.F.R. § 983
24 C.F.R. § 247, Subpart A
COMAR 05.05.03

Definitions

HAP:  Housing assistance payment. The monthly assistance payment by a PHA to the owner under the Section 8 programs.

Lease:  Means either an oral or a written lease.

PHA:  Public Housing Agency. Can administer both public housing and Section 8 programs.

Public housing tenant: the Housing Authority owns the property where you, the tenant, resides. Most often, the Housing Authority also manages the property as landlord.

  • At certain public housing developments and in some scattered site/rehabilitated public housing (e.g., HOPE VI mixed-income redevelopments), a private management company manages the property for Housing Authority.

Section 8 tenant: the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), makes housing assistance payments on your behalf to a private owner of the property. The payment may be made either directly or through the Housing Authority (It is different from public housing. Under the Section 8 programs, the Housing Authority does not own or manage the property where you reside.) There are two basic types of Section 8 tenancies:

  • Tenant-based assistance: you are given a Section 8 voucher to use in finding a place to live. You can use the voucher anywhere. The subsidy is called "portable."
  • Project-based assistance: the unit where you live, (not you, the tenant), "receives" the subsidy. (As a result, if you move, or are evicted, you will lose the subsidy. In other words, the subsidy is not portable and does not "follow" you; the subsidy "stays" with the unit.)

Rental Allowance Program (RAP): The rental allowance program ("RAP") is a State rental assistance program for those who are homeless or have a critical or emergency housing need. It provides a 12-month subsidy to low-income persons to help them attain self-sufficiency within a 12-month time frame. The rental subsidy will vary in amount from $180 to $730 per month, depending on the region and size of the person’s family.

  • The subsidy you can use for a room, a boarding house, single room occupancy, apartment, group home, or single family house. For monthly RAP payments to begin, you and the landlord must sign the RAP contract and the subsidized property must pass an initial housing inspection. The RAP payment may only be used for rent and not for any utility bills, security deposits, late charges or any other non-rent items. The RAP contract will be terminated when you vacate the unit before the contract expires, the landlord legally evicts you, or when the RAP contract expires.

Learn more

Renting and HUD rental assistance programs

Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher Program in Maryland

Source: 

Legal Aid Bureau, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), Maryland Department of Housing & Community Development, updated by www.peoples-law.org/contributors

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