A letter was sent out last week from MBHP to all property owners whose tenants are participants in MBHP's Housing Choice Voucher (Section 8) program, regarding a clarification from the Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development of the policy for requesting rent increases. This policy applies to property owners who are currently using the "Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher Program Model Dwelling Lease" provided by MBHP.
Please note that this only impacts the participants of the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher Program.
If you currently have any tenants who are participants in MBHP's other Leased Housing Programs (e.g., Massachusetts Rental Voucher Program, Continuum of Care program), they are not impacted by this guidance but may have other regulations that govern the rent increase process.
Below are some questions and answers to help you understand this policy.
Q: What is the process for rent increase requests?
A: If you are using the Section 8 Model Dwelling Lease, property owners must submit a written request for an increase at least 60 days (two calendar months) prior to the Lease Renewal date on which the increase will take effect. Requests must be submitted in writing to the appropriate MBHP Program Representative. An increase will be approved ONLY for the lease renewal date.
Q: Do I need to notify the tenant of the proposed increase?
A: Yes. At the same time that the owner submits the request to MBHP, they must also give written notice to the tenant.
Q: How much of an increase can I ask for, and will it be approved?
A: Any new rent amount that is requested and/or approved must be "reasonable" in comparison with rents of similar units in the private, unassisted (non-subsidized) rental market. Criteria guidelines include, but are not limited to: condition and rating of unit, location (neighborhood), bedroom size, amenities available, renovations. The full amount of the increase requested may or may not be approved.
Q: How will a rent increase affect the tenant?
A: If a rent increase is approved, the tenant's share may go up and may affect the tenant's ability to pay their portion.
Q: When will an approved rent increase take effect?
A: If you are using the Section 8 Model Dwelling Lease, the increase will not take effect until at least two full calendar months have passed since the date the request was received by MBHP, and will not take effect until the lease renewal date. For example, if an increase request was received by MBHP in January, and the lease renews April 1, the increase would not take effect until April 1. If the request for an increase is received in March, and the lease renews April 1, the increase could not take effect until April 1 of the following year, since the request has to be submitted at least 60 days prior to the lease renewal date.
Q: Are there any special requirements in regard to inspections for rent increases?
A: Yes, rent increases will not be approved until any failed items identified by the most recent HQS inspection have been corrected.
Q: What is the difference between the Lease Renewal date and the Annual Inspection date?
A: The Lease Renewal date is the date the Lease agreement and Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) contract is entered into. This date will stay the same until the Lease is terminated. The Annual Inspection date is based on the last full HQS Inspection regardless if the unit passed or failed inspection. Because HUD requires a full inspection be conducted annually and/or biennially, the date of the next annual or biennial inspection will change from year to year.
If you have any questions, please consult your letter or contact your tenant's MBHP program representative. A list of contact information for Section 8 program representatives is available on our website.