What is Section 8?

 

    Section 8 is a program for low-income people who wish to live in privately owned housing and receive rental assistance.  The term “Section 8” is used because the federal law which created the program is Section 8 of the Housing and Community Development Act of 1974.

 

    The Town of Islip Housing Authority currently administers two types of Section 8 rental assistance.  These two programs are:

·        The Housing Choice Voucher Program

And

·        The Project Based Housing Choice Voucher Program

 

 

How do these programs work?

 

   

    In the Housing Choice Voucher Program, participants have a limited time to find suitable housing offered by a private owner using a Voucher issued by The Town of Islip Housing Authority.  Any housing selected must meet local codes and federal standards called Housing Quality Standards.  Housing Choice Vouchers give a family the flexibility to pay more than 30 percent of their income for rent and utilities if they desire.  However, families who are new admissions or move to a new unit cannot pay more than 40 percent of their income when they move in.

    The maximum subsidy is calculated by using the lower of the Voucher Payment Standard or the gross rent minus the total tenant payment.

    All Voucher units must meet a rent reasonableness test, i.e.; the rents cannot be higher than similar units in the area.  This test is performed on each Section 8 unit leased and when an owner requests a rent increase. In both programs families pay their share of the rent directly to the landlord.

Income and Rent

 

 

What is counted as income?

 

    Annual income is the anticipated total money from all sources received by the family head and spouse (even if temporarily absent) and by each additional member of the family who is over 18 and is not a full-time student.  This includes all income derived from assets and is calculated for the twelve month period following the effective date of certification.

 

Will I receive a utility allowance check?

 

    When the subsidy payment is greater than the contract rent and the participants pay their own utilities, they may receive a utility allowance check.

 

Is income verified?

 

    All income must be verified with the income source.  The Town of Islip Housing Authority periodically reviews the records of all families.

 

    The Town of Islip Housing Authority may also employ its own fraud investigator.  If unreported income is found, this can result in termination of assistance.

 

How much will I pay?

 

    Rent is calculated according to federal regulations.  It must be recalculated any time income or family size changes.

    

    The Town of Islip Housing Authority uses a formula to calculate the family’s portion of the rent.  It is the greatest of 30% of the monthly adjusted income, 10% of the total monthly income, or $50, which is the minimum rent for The Town of Islip Housing Authority. This amount is then subtracted from the lower of the payment standard or the gross rent to determine the subsidy amount paid by The Town of Islip Housing Authority to the owner.

 

    The “payment standard” is a HUD approved amount by bedroom size, based on the Fair Market Rent for the area.  The bedroom size for the family, based on The Town of Islip Housing Authority’s “subsidy standard,” is two persons per bedroom, except that the head of household will not be forced to share a bedroom with a minor child, or when there is medical justification.

 

    Even if the family selects a larger unit, the Housing Authority will still base the subsidy in accordance with this “subsidy standard,” and the family will be required to pay the difference.

 

    “Tenant Rent” is the difference between the contract rent (rent to the owner) and the subsidy.

 

When are changes reported?

 

    Any change in income or family composition must be reported to The Town of Islip Housing Authority within TEN days.  Income change forms are available at the reception desk at 963 Montauk Highway.

 

What deductions are allowed?

 

a.      $480 for each member of the family residing in the household (other than the head of the household or spouse) who is under 18 years of age or is disabled or handicapped or a full-time student of any age.

b.     $400 for any elderly family (over 62, disabled or handicapped).

c.     Medical expenses in excess of three percent of annual family income of any elderly handicapped and disabled family.

d.     Reasonable childcare expenses necessary to enable another family member to be employed or to further his or her education.


 

Leasing

 

 

Do I have to pay a security deposit?

 

    Yes.  Owners usually charge a security deposit, which can be used to:

·        Repair damage caused by a tenant family.

·        Clean a housing unit left in a dirty condition.

·        Pay “rent due” from the tenant family.

 

    However, according to New York State law, the owner must refund any portion of the security deposit, which has not been used for these reasons (after receiving proper notification of move out).

 

           

How does a Section 8 lease work?

 

    The lease and the tenancy addendum spell out the details of the rental agreement between the tenant family and the owner.

 

    The lease must be in a form consistent with leases used in the area and conform to state law.

 

    The lease agreement must include:

·        The names of all household members.

·        The name of the owner.

·        The term of the lease and provisions for renewal (initial term must be one year).

·        The contract rent.

·        The utilities and appliances to be furnished by the owner.

·        The utilities and appliances to be furnished by the resident.

The tenancy addendum contains all the HUD language necessary to conform to federal regulations.  It is part of the lease by reference.

 

 

 

What is the Housing Assistance Payments Contract?

 

    The Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) Contract is a written agreement between the owner and The Town of Islip Housing Authority.  It specifies how much The Town of Islip Housing Authority will pay each month to the owner on behalf of a Section 8 participant.

 

    This contract protects the owner’s interests and the rights of tenant families under federal rules.  The Town of Islip Housing Authority will not begin rental assistance until the lease and HAP Contract have been signed, the rent has been determined to be reasonable, and the unit has passed the Housing Quality Standards (HQS) inspection.

 

 

What should I look for when shopping for a new home?

 

    Keep these important points in mind when searching for a new rental unit:

·        The housing must offer adequate space for your family.

·        You may want to look for a location near shopping centers, medical facilities, recreation areas, and schools and public transportation.

·        The housing has to be in good condition.

·        Avoid high poverty areas if possible.

 

Where are Vouchers accepted?

 

    You may use your Voucher anywhere in New York.  Although there are some limitations on new participants, Vouchers can also be used anywhere in the USA.  Ask your caseworker for information.

 

    Wherever you choose to live, the housing must pass a Housing Quality Standard (HQS) inspection.  It must also pass a rent reasonableness test to assure that the rent charged is fair.

 

    If a landlord has housing, which qualifies, and he or she is willing to rent it under the Section 8 program, a lease and Housing Assistance Payment contract must be signed.

 

    The Section 8 office has lists of participating owners in the Islip area and information on other nearby housing authorities.

 

 

Annual Reexamination

 

 

Why are annual reexaminations necessary?

 

    The Town of Islip Housing Authority is required by federal regulations to review each Section 8 participant’s income and family size at least once a year.  This is done to assure that (1) the right amount of rent is being paid based on actual income and (2) the home is the right size for the family.

 

 

How can I prepare for the reexamination?

 

    For your reexamination and annual inspection:

·        Be on time for your appointment or mail documents timely.

·        Be sure you have all the information requested in your reexamination letter.

 

What happens during this interview?

 

    The Town of Islip Housing Authority will notify each Section 8 family of their reexamination approximately three months before the anniversary of their initial move-in-date.  Section 8 staff members will schedule a time to conduct the interview.

 

    At the interview, the Section 8 caseworker will check to see that all information provided about income and family size is correct.

 

    Sometime during the year, The Town of Islip Housing Authority will also schedule an inspection of each home to be sure that it still meets basic Housing Quality Standards.  The inspection is a good time for you to inform The Town of Islip Housing Authority of any concerns you may have about the condition of your home or any maintenance problems you are having.

  

 

How can I prepare for the unit inspection?

 

    You and your landlord will receive a letter to schedule the annual inspection of your unit.  You (or a family representative over the age of 18), or the landlord, must be present for the inspection. Keep your home clean so the inspector can check the required items quickly and efficiently.

 

What are my obligations?

 

    All participants are responsible for meeting Section 8 family obligations, which include, but are not limited to:

·       Reporting all money coming into the household changes in family members and related information as required.

·       Permitting inspection of the housing unit by The Town of Islip Housing Authority after reasonable notice.

·       Giving the Town of Islip Housing Authority and the owner  written notice in accordance with the terms of your lease if you intend to move.

·       Not subletting or leasing any part of the unit.

·       Not using illegal or controlled substances.

·       Not being involved in drug-related or violent criminal activities.

·       Not allowing anyone who is not a member of your household to use your address to receive mail, register vehicles, etc.

·       Not violating the terms of your lease.

 

What are Housing Quality Standards?

 

    The chief goal for the Section 8 program is to provide decent, safe and sanitary housing at an affordable cost.

                    

    Federal regulations spell out basic housing quality standards, which a housing unit must meet before it can be rented under Section 8. These standards help protect your family by assuring a basic level of acceptable housing.  The standards must be maintained for the duration of the lease.

 

    Your family, as well as the landlord, is held accountable for maintaining the unit.  Your family’s assistance may be terminated if you fail to maintain any tenant-supplied appliance, fail to pay for utilities required under the lease, and/or you or your guests damage the dwelling unit or premises.

 

 

Housing Quality Standards

 

 

How often is Section 8 housing inspections done?

 

    Before the Section 8 program can assist any family, the proposed housing must pass an inspection to assure that Housing Quality Standards are met.

 

    After initial inspection, The Town of Islip Housing Authority must inspect the housing at least once a year as long as it remains on the program.

 

    The Town of Islip Housing Authority is also required to “spot check” some units each year to make certain that the Housing Quality Standards was reviewed properly and is being maintained.

    

    Problems with Section 8 housing should be reported first to the owner in writing.  If the problem is not corrected in a prompt or satisfactory manner, it should be reported in writing to the Section 8 caseworker for action by The Town of Islip Housing Authority.

    

    The Town of Islip Housing Authority makes special inspections in response to complaints from tenant families or owners.  These “complaints inspections” are made whenever families report housing conditions, which could endanger their health or safety.

 

What are my responsibilities?

 

    Practice good housekeeping habits in your home.  Keep it in a clean, safe and orderly condition.

 

    Let the landlord know as soon as possible when maintenance or repair work is needed.  That way, major work should not be required after each Housing Quality Standards inspection.  Most major problems can be avoided, but if they occur and are not fixed right away, you may be forced to move.

 

Do I have to let a Section 8 inspector into my house?

 

    Yes, the Section 8 inspector must be allowed access to your home upon notification.  The inspector will usually provide advance notice whenever an inspection is required to be scheduled. The inspector may attempt to inspect your unit as necessary due to extenuating circumstances by knocking on your door, your cooperation in allowing these types of inspections is appreciated.

 

    For this reason, it is important that you notify your Section 8 caseworker any time you change your telephone number.

   

Energy Conservation

 

 

Why should I worry about saving energy?

 

    Knowing how to hold down your utility bills will give your family extra money for other items.  Chances are you can cut your present utility bills by conserving water, electricity and gas.

 

    As you become more aware of saving energy, small changes in daily use of utilities can add up to a big difference at the end of the month.

 

    By avoiding waste… such as leaving doors or windows open or forgetting to turn off lights… you can save money without a major change in your family’s comfort or life-style.

 

 

Where can I save the most money?

 

    A large percentage of your home energy budget goes toward heating and cooling.

                  

    Here are some helpful tips to keep you comfortable…at a reasonable cost…during HOT WEATHER:

·        Set the thermostat at 78 degrees (or higher if possible) during hot weather.

·        Keep drapes closed during the hot part of the day to block direct sunlight.

·        Portable fans are energy efficient, so use them to circulate air while running the air conditioner.

·        Wear light colored, lightweight clothing as much as possible to stay comfortable.

·        Don’t peek into the oven constantly to check food while it cooks.

·        If you have a kitchen ventilation fan, use it while cooking during the summer.

 

    In COLD WEATHER, you should:

·        Dress warmly in your home.

·        Open window coverings on the sunny side of your home during the day and let the sun give you “free heat”.

·        Close window coverings on cloudy days or as soon as the sun sets.

·        Use several light blankets to trap more warm air rather than one heavy blanket.

·        Turn the thermostat down at night and during the day when you are gone.

 

    You will save money ALL YEAR if you:

 

·        Turn TV sets, radios and stereo equipment off when they are not in use.

·        Don’t leave refrigerator and freezer doors open any longer than absolutely necessary.

 

 

How can I save water?

 

    You can save water all year by taking a few simple steps:

·        Don’t leave water running while brushing your teeth, shaving, or washing your face.

·        Take short showers instead of baths.

·        Fill the sink to wash your dishes and then fill it again to rinse your dishes, instead of letting the water run while you wash and rinse.

·        Wash only full loads of laundry.

·        Report leaking faucets and constantly running toilets to maintenance.

 

    Follow instructions for watering your yard, even without drought restrictions.  Deep watering only twice a week will make your yard greener and healthier?

 

 

Maintenance

 

 

Who do I call about household repairs?

 

    In general, report all maintenance problems to your landlord before attempting to make any repairs yourself.  Most apartment complexes have specific procedures to follow to obtain maintenance service.  Landlords of single-family rental houses and duplexes often have less formal procedures.

 

    In either case, check with the landlord so that you know exactly what to do before you have a problem.  It also helps to keep the phone numbers for routine and emergency services in a handy location next to your telephone.

 

What is considered a maintenance emergency?

 

    A “maintenance emergency” could be anything you believe to be dangerous to your health or safety, or could cause serious damage or loss of property.  The landlord where you live will be glad to explain what is considered an emergency and how emergencies are handled.

 

    Landlords usually consider the following situations “emergencies” and will give them immediate attention:

·        Leaking gas.

·        Fallen electrical lines.

·        Flooding.

·        Backed up sewer pipes.

·        Falling ceilings.

·        Fire.

·        Broken doors or windows, which leave the property, unprotected.

    In case of a maintenance emergency, call the landlord immediately and state clearly that you have an emergency situation.  Most landlords want to do everything possible to avoid or reduce damage.

 

 

 

When will maintenance repairs be done?

 

    Emergency repairs should be handled within a few hours, at most.  The time to make non-emergency repairs depends entirely on your landlord’s procedures, the number of workers available and other repairs waiting to be done at any given time.

 

    Give the landlord a reasonable time to complete ordinary repairs.  If you are not satisfied that the landlord is making a reasonable effort to respond, contact your Section 8 caseworker in writing and request help in solving the problem.

 

Can I install my own major appliances?

 

    Before installing any major appliance not provided by the management… such as a washer, dryer, dishwasher, ceiling fan, refrigerator, stove or air conditioner… ALWAYS get written permission from the landlord.  This is the only way to be certain that your home is correctly wired to handle the electrical load from these items.  DO NOT assume the wiring will be safe.

Housekeeping

 

 

Can housekeeping habits affect Section 8 assistance?

 

    Participation in the Section 8 program may be terminated if the family does not comply with the terms of the lease.

                    

    Usually, the lease specifies that the property must be kept in good condition, except for normal wear and tear.  A family may be evicted if their housekeeping practices damage the property.

 

Housekeeping Tips

 

    Your family deserves a clean, safe and orderly home.  Good housekeeping habits also make your housing last longer and reduce the needs for repairs.

    

    Keeping your home free of trash and food waste helps keep insects and other pests away.

                    

    Storing clothes, newspapers and household cleaning products properly also reduces the risk of accidental fires.

 

What will my landlord consider good housekeeping?

 

    To check your good housekeeping habits, make sure these basic chores are on your list:

·        Clean grease and spilled food from your oven and stove after cooking to prevent grease fires.

·        Keep both the inside and outside of your refrigerator clean.

·        Defrost your refrigerator as needed if it is not a frost-free model.

·        Scrub your bathtub, shower, sink and toilet as needed… or at least every week… to keep them sanitary.

·        Throw away your kitchen garbage and household trash every day.

    No landlord is required to participate in the Section 8 program.  Good housekeeping by every tenant family helps The Town of Islip Housing Authority expand the program because landlords are then more willing to rent their property to new Section 8 participants.

 

What else can I do to keep an attractive home?

 

    Your home will be more attractive and more comfortable to live in if you:

·        Report all maintenance problems.

·        Make sure water leaks are repaired to decrease the possibility of roaches and “water bugs” and eliminate pools of standing water which breed other insects like mosquito’s.

·        Keep your steps and yard free of trash to discourage rats and other rodents.

 

Decorating

 

    Written permission from the landlord must be obtained before making any kind of permanent changes to walls, floors, cabinets, appliances or fixtures.  Getting permission in writing could help you avoid extra charges, disputes and problems when you move out.

 

    In most cases, there will be no objection to hanging pictures, for example.  However, the fasteners used to attach pictures, mirrors and similar items to walls must be easily removable and must not case permanent damage.

 

Termination of Assistance

 

 

Can I lose my Section 8 assistance?

 

         

    There are a number of ways families can lose their Section 8 assistance.  Here is a partial list of typical reasons that are usually sufficient to cause The Town of Islip Housing Authority to stop Section 8 assistance to a family:

·        Allowing unauthorized persons to live in the housing unit or use it as a mailing address.

·        Not complying with the terms of the Section 8 Statement of Family Responsibilities.

·        Failing to report all changes in income or provide information required by The Town of Islip Housing Authority for reexamination of the family’s continued eligibility for Section 8 assistance.

·        Owing money to any public or Indian Housing Authority.

·        Involvement in drug-related or violent criminal activities.

·        Serious or repeated lease violations.

·        Causing significant damage to the unit

 

What do landlords consider cause for eviction?

 

    The landlord has the right to evict people from the property if they do not abide by the lease.  It is very important to read the lease before you sign it, to make sure you fully understand what it says.

    

    Typical reasons for eviction are nonpayment of rent, destruction of property, poor housekeeping habits, keeping unauthorized pets, fighting, displaying weapons, and allowing people who are not on your lease to live with you.

    

    An eviction may cause you to lose your Section 8 assistance.  A poor rental history will make it difficult to obtain other housing.

 

Drug-related or violent criminal activity

 

    Drug-related crime and violent crime are problems everywhere across the country.  Be sure that you and members of your family are not involved.  Federal regulations provide for termination of assistance to those who participate in these activities.  The regulations also state that a person does not have to have been arrested or convicted in order for their assistance to be terminated.

 

What legal steps must the landlord follow in an eviction?

 

    In all cases, the landlord must notify the tenant family in writing of the reason for any action to evict from the property.

    

    This written notice will either be a written notice of lease termination or (in the most serious cause) a three-day notice of lease termination.  The owner has to send a copy of the notice to The Town of Islip Housing Authority.

    

    If you remain in the housing after this time has expired, the landlord will file a lawsuit to recover possession of the unit.

    

    You have the right to appear in court and explain your actions before the court decides whether or not you will be forced to move.  It is to your advantage to appear in court because the case will be decided without considering your side of the story if you are not there.

    

    If you are forced to move, you must notify the Section 8 office as soon as you receive a termination notice to schedule an appointment so that The Town of Islip Housing Authority can determine whether you are eligible to continue receiving assistance and to help you look for a new place to live under the program.

 

What can I do if I believe I am being evicted wrongfully?

 

    The Town of Islip Housing Authority is not directly involved in the eviction process because the lease is between you and your landlord.  If you have problems or believe your rights have been denied during the eviction process, you should seek advice from an attorney.

 

    Legal services helps people with limited income to obtain legal representation based on their ability to pay. 

 

 

Moving and Security Deposits

 

 

When can I move?

 

    There are some specific rules about moving out of housing:

·        Housing Choice Voucher participants can move after living in their homes for at least one year.

·        Moderate Rehabilitation program participants will lose their rental assistance if they move out of their unit.

Here are some general guidelines for moving out the proper way.  (Remember that the landlord may have other requirements):

·        Give at least 30 days written notice.

·        Give your Section 8 caseworker a copy of the notice to your landlord.

·        If the utilities are in your name, you need to notify the utility companies to disconnect the electricity, gas and water.

·        Make sure all bills have been paid, including any rent due.

·        Clean the unit thoroughly before moving, including major appliances.

 

How do I get my security deposit back?

 

    If you have paid all amounts owed your landlord for rent and repairs, and you have cleaned your home properly before moving out, you should be eligible to have your security deposit refunded.

          

    Be sure to give your landlord a forwarding address so they can mail you any refund of your security deposit.

·        Leave the unit like you found it.

·        Request a copy of the move-in inspection so you will know what it says.

·        Be at the move-out inspection.

·        Request a copy of the move-out inspection.

    You will then have the same information as the caseworker that reviews the damage claim.

                    

    Section 8 will not pay a damage claim on your behalf.

Crime Protection

 

 

How can I have better security?

 

     If you believe improved security is needed where you live, meet with the landlord of your housing.  Your concerns may have more impact with the landlord if you include a group of concerned neighbors in the meeting.

·        Describe any problems and incidents that concern you in as much detail as possible.

·        Point out specific problems, and be willing to help with their solutions.

·        Stress that additional security measures make property easier to rent and safer from theft and vandalism losses.

 

    Wherever you live, be sure to report all suspicious or criminal activity to the police.  Do not assume someone else will do this.  The police need the assistance of people living in every neighborhood.

 

What security practices help protect against crime?

 

    Here are a few basic security practices which people often forget:

·        Lock your doors at all times, even when you are home.  A heavy chain on the door is helpful, but not as secure as a locked door.

·        Do not let strangers into your home.  Always identify a visitor before opening the door.  Use your peephole or look through a window if possible.

·        If you lose your keys, ask the owner to replace your door locks immediately.  Do not let other people know your keys are missing.

·        Keep an inventory list of items in your home.  The Police Department lends engraving pens for permanently marking valuables with New York driver’s license numbers.  This deters thieves and aids in the return of stolen property recovered by the police.

·        If anyone is loitering in the area, stay inside.  Try to get the very best possible description of the suspect and their vehicle, and call the police.

·        Keep the police/fire/ambulance emergency number 911 and other important numbers close to your telephone.  In emergency situations, it is not easy to remember phone numbers.

 

Indoor safety tip

 

    Lay telephone, television, and other electric cords or cables only along the wall, preferably behind furniture.  Do not run any cords or cables across doorways, hallways, or other floor areas where someone could trip on them.

Fire Safety

 

 

How can I protect my home and family from fire?

 

    Many fires in rented houses, duplexes and apartments are caused by grease on stoves, children or careless smoking.  Practicing these home fire safety tips every day can prevent tragedy.

·        Clean grease off your stove so it can’t catch fire while you are cooking.

·        Don’t leave food cooking if you can’t be there to watch it.

·        Never use ovens or burners on gas stoves to heat your home.

·        Avoid leaving children alone at home where they can start fires by playing with matches, lighters and candles.

·        Never smoke in bed!

 

How do I avoid hidden fire dangers around my home?

 

    Fires can be prevented by identifying dangerous items around your unit and taking action to make them safe.  Here are a few suggestions about common hazards:

·        Keep your TV set, stereo and kitchen appliances in safe condition.  Replace frayed or broken plugs and cords.  Do not run electrical cords under rugs.

·        Do not overload electrical outlets.  Each outlet is designed to handle only one lamp or appliance at a time safely.  Overloaded circuits can cause fires.

·        Do not block access to, or store ANYTHING, in the water heater or furnace closets.

·        Keep rags, paper, trash and materials which burn easily away from stoves, room heaters, water heaters, TV sets and other appliances which get hot.

·        Do not keep gasoline or flammable products inside your unit.  They can burst into flames if they get too hot.

·        Never store oily rags in your home.  A chemical reaction could cause them to catch fire.

 

How does the smoke detector help protect my family?

 

    Housing units rented to families under the Section 8 program must have smoke detectors.

                    

    These alarms sometimes make a loud, annoying noise during cooking or other normal activities.  If this happens, open your windows and doors to let in fresh air.  You should NEVER disconnect the smoke detector.

 

How do I take care of the smoke detector?

 

    To alert your family during a fire, your smoke detector must be working at all times.  You can make sure the warning horn sounds by pressing the test button.  The Town of Islip Housing Authority recommends you check it once each month.

          

    If it has been damaged, disconnected, covered up, or the battery has been removed, it will not work when you need it most.

          

    False alarms may be caused by heavy smoke, steam, high room temperature, grease smoke from cooking, or insects, which crawl inside the smoke detector.

          

    If you have repeated false alarms, let your landlord or maintenance workers figure out the problem and replace your smoke detector if necessary.

          

    Never take it apart, take out the battery, cover it up or remove it… not even for a little while!

 

How do I get out of my unit in case of a fire?

 

          All exits must be clear so you can get out in case of a fire.  Any furniture or obstructions that cannot be moved easily must not block the sliding side of bedroom windows.