A voucher is a HUD document that states the household has been determined eligible to participate in the Housing Choice Voucher program. This gives the participant an opportunity to seek a suitable and affordable unit. The voucher itself is not a means of payment, however, it is proof of the tenant’s participation in the program.
When the agency issues the voucher, as long funds are available, it will enter into a Housing Assistance Payment Contract with the landlord.
However, the agency itself, is under no obligation to, and holds no liability to the participant or the landlord if it is unable to enter a contract.
Vouchers are issued directly to the participant, not to the rental unit. So, if or when, the participant moves, the voucher follows them. The participant presents the voucher to the prospective landlord of whichever unit they are applying to rent. This serves as verification of their eligibility for rental subsidy assistance.
On the voucher landlords may notice a designation of the number of bedrooms the tenant is eligible for. The number of bedrooms on the voucher is used to outline the actual subsidy amount the agency will provide for the participant, based on their household size and composition. Households can search for a rental unit that has more bedrooms than is listed on the voucher, as long as it falls within the prescribed payment amounts that have been determined by the agency. As stated previously, the voucher size reflects the level of assistance the tenant is eligible for based on their household composition. This voucher size corresponds with a payment standard based on fair market rents for a unit of that size in your immediate area. If a tenant chooses a unit that is larger than their voucher size, the rent amount must fall within the payment standard for their voucher size.
The voucher also comes with an issue date and expiration date. These dates outline the time period in which the voucher can be used. The agency is obligated to provide a minimum of 60 days for this timer period. However, if participants don’t find a unit prior to the expiration date, the voucher will be rendered unusable. Once the voucher expires, and the household has not found a suitable unit, they have lost their opportunity at housing assistance and must reapply when the waiting list is open.
When the household representative signs the voucher, they area agreeing to follow all the policies and procedures of the Housing Choice Voucher Program. They must read the voucher in its entirety, as it lists all the obligations of the program.
As an landlord, you will also want to make sure you are aware of everything that required of you, and take whatever steps are necessary to stay in compliance.