Questions and Answers

For more information, you may download our Landlord Information Packet.

  1. When will I receive the check for rent?
  2. If I want more rent than approved by NIRHA, canthe family pay the difference? 
  3. Can the family add someone to the lease/household? 
  4. How much can I collect for a security deposit? 
  5. How much rent can I get for my unit?
  6. What is “Rent Reasonableness”?
  7. What is the purpose of “Rent Reasonableness”?
  8. How do I determine which family will move into my unit? 
  9. What are the responsibilities of the landlord, tenant and NIRHA?
  10. What do inspectors look for during the Housing Quality Standards (HQS) inspection?
  11. What are the most common items that fail inspections?
  12. What happens if I don’t make repair items that failed the inspection?
  13. Why should I rent to families on the housing program?
  14. How can I find a family holding a voucher?

  1. When will I receive the check for rent?
    NIRHA mails rent checks to landlords on the last working day of each month.  Weekends and/or holidays may affect the time checks are received by the landlords.  Payments are remitted only after units pass inspection and the landlord and participating family complete all required documentation relating to annual reexaminations and or interim certifications (i.e. changes in income, family composition, etc).  Landlords are encouraged to sign up for direct deposit of the rent check. To get more information regarding direct deposit, please contact the NIRHA office.


  1. If I want more rent than approved by NIRHA, can the family pay the difference? No, families can only pay the amount specified by NIRHA. This amount reflects what the family can afford based on income and family composition reported to Section 8.  It is considered fraud if the landlord requires the family to pay anything other than what is approved by NIRHA.  It is also fraud if the family pays any additional amounts not approved by NIRHA. Both parties could face fraud charges and ordered to repay any amounts paid by NIRHA for assistance made on behalf of the family. You may be banned from future participation and the family terminated from the program.


  1. Can the family add someone to the lease/household? 
    Only if approved by the landlord first.  It is the landlord’s responsibility to conduct a screening of tenants and give approval.  After approval by the landlord, a request to add someone to the household of a current program participant MUST be placed in writing and submitted to the assigned Housing Specialist.


  1. How much can I collect for a security deposit? 
    Landlords may request the same amount that would be required for families not receiving assistance.  This is usually equivalent to one month's rent.


  1. How much rent can I get for my unit?
    The maximum amount of rent payable is determined only after two points of negotiation are completed:

    - HUD’s required rent reasonableness test

    - The family's income and family composition

NOTE: At initial leasing of a unit, participating families are not allowed to pay more than 40% their of monthly adjusted income for rent and utilities.



  1. What is “Rent Reasonableness”?    

Housing authorities are required to compare the rent paid for units being assisted to units not receiving assistance.  The factors considered in each comparison are:

      - unit size

      - age

      - quality

      - unit type

      - location

      - amenities

      - housing services provided

      - maintenance provided

      - utilities


  1. What is the purpose of “Rent Reasonableness”?

The purpose of “Rent Reasonableness” is to insure that a fair rent is paid for units selected for participation in the Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) program, the rent charged for assisted units may not exceed rents for unassisted units; and the program does not have the effect of inflating rents in the community.


  1. How do I determine which family will move into my unit? 
    It is the owner’s responsibility to screen a family for suitability. NIRHA has no liability in this area. Owners/landlords are permitted to screen based on a family's tenancy history (contact prior landlords), and a family's background regarding factors such as drug-related criminal activity, etc. Screening procedures used for HCV program families should not differ from procedures used for open market families.


  1. What are the responsibilities of the landlord, tenant and NIRHA?

The program is a three-way partnership between the landlord, the tenant and the housing authority.


Participating Owners/Landlord Responsibilities - Owners/landlords must:

  • Screen families
  • Comply with fair housing laws—do not discriminate
  • Provide proof of legal ownership
  • Maintain housing unit to meet HUD’s minimum housing quality standards
  • Comply with terms of Housing Assistance Payments Contract
  • Collect rent due by the family—enforce the lease
  • Not require the family to pay additional amounts not specified in the lease  
  • Notify NIRHA when unit is vacant  
  • Notify NIHRA of your plan to sell the unit
  • Certify they are not related to the family

Participating Family Responsibilities - The participating family must:

  • Comply with all program rules and regulations and all family obligations
  • Provide complete and accurate information to NIRHA 
  • Sign and submit consent forms for obtaining information  
  • Find a suitable place to live that meets program standards
  • Attend all scheduled appointments
  • Allow NIRHA to inspect the unit  
  • Allow the landlord to enter unit to complete necessary repairs
  • Comply with terms of the lease with owner and HUD’s tenancy addendum  
  • Pay rent on time
  • Report maintenance problems in a timely manner
  • Not commit any serious or repeated violation of the lease

NIRHA Responsibilities – NIRHA must:

  • Accept applications
  • Determine eligibility of applicants  
  • Issue housing choice vouchers—includes briefings
  • Recruit owners/landlords  
  • Inspect and reinspect units—initially and at least annually  
  • Approve leases and the owner 
  • Make timely housing assistance payments  
  • Ensure continued eligibility of family  
  • Ensure compliance of rules and regulations by owners and families  
  • Offer and conduct hearings  


  1. What do inspectors look for during the Housing Quality Standard (HQS) inspection?
    Inspectors are required to enforce the Housing Quality Standards (HQS) established by HUD to make certain assisted units meet minimum health and safety standards.  A quick reference guide for items to be inspected is in “A Good Place to Live”.  NIRHA requires additional standards in compliance as it relates to GFI outlets to be installed in bathrooms. 


  1. What are the most common items that fail inspections?

    - Inoperable smoke alarms (batteries dead or missing)

    - Missing or cracked electrical outlet cover plates

    - Railings not present where required (when four or more steps are present)

    - Deteriorated paint surfaces (i.e. peeling, cracking, flaking paint on exterior and interior surfaces)

    - Tripping hazards caused by permanently installed floor coverings (carpet/vinyl)

    - Cracked or broken window panes

    - Inoperable burners on stoves or inoperable range hoods

    - Missing burner control knobs

    - Defective refrigerator gaskets (broken seal allowing air to escape)

    - Leaking faucets or other plumbing 

    - No temperature/pressure relief valve on water heaters

    - No insulation around front and back doors (ensure no outside light can be seen when doors are closed)

    - No GFI outlet in bathroom within six feet of water source


  1. What happens if I don’t make repair items that failed the inspection?

If the family is not currently living in the unit inspected, or the family already lives in the unit but just entering on the HCV program, NIRHA will not execute the contract or issue rent payments on the family’s behalf until the repairs are completed and reinspected by NIRHA inspectors.


If the family is going through the annual reexamination process and remaining in the same unit, the landlord must make the repairs otherwise the tenant will be advised to move if they want to continue receiving rental assistance, or the tenant may remain in the unit without rental assistance.


Families may call to request a complaint inspection if they believe something would not pass inspection.  NIRHA staff will first advise the family to contact the landlord, and make the landlord aware of the concern and the opportunity to correct the matter.  If NIRHA is advised that the landlord has not made appropriate repairs, an inspector will determine if the item is a failing situation.  If the complaint is valid, the landlord is given a time frame in which to fix the problem.  The length of time will be determined on whether the failing item is considered an emergency or not.  If the failing item is not corrected within the designated time period, the monthly assistance payment will be prorated until the problem is resolved.  If it appears the landlord does not intend to make the repairs, the family will advised to move in order to continue receiving rental assistance. Otherwise the family may remain in the unit without rental assistance.



  1. Why should I rent to families on the housing program?

Some landlords are concerned that they will lose control of managing their property if they work with the Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) program.  Below is a simple listing that compares the difference between renting to families not receiving assistance (open market landord) to those who are receiving assistance (HCV program landlord).


Open Market Landlord: Pays for newspaper ads

HCV Program Landlord: FREE listing of rental units on NIRHA’s website and verbal referrals


Open Market Landlord: Landlord selects tenant, based on own criteria and standards

HCV Program Landlord: Same as open rental market ,but in addition, NIRHA can furnish name, address, phone number for last two landlords who rented to the assisted family and knowledge of criminal history


Open Market Landlord: Landlord may collect a security deposit up to two month’s rent

HCV Program Landlord: Same as Open Rental Market


Open Market Landlord: Landlord provides the rental agreement and selects the term (month to month or lease)

HCV Program Landlord: Same as open rental market with exception of initial 12 month term


Open Market Landlord: Tenant is solely responsible for payments to landlord. No protection against unpaid rent when family finances change

HCV Program Landlord: Tenant pays portion of rent directly to the landlord (approximately 30%-40% of income). NIRHA pays the balance of the rent payment directly to the owner on the first day of the month.  NIRHA’s share is generally the largest share of the rent payment


Open Market Landlord: Tenant can fall behind in monthly rent payments if family income decreases, i.e. from a job termination or injury, causing a costly eviction process, and vacancy

HCV Program Landlord: NIRHA will recalculate the family’s income and adjust rent payment amount as required.  NIRHA could possibly pay the entire rent, therefore the owner is not at risk of not receiving monthly rent


Open Market Landlord: Landlord may evict tenant in accordance with Iowa State Law

HCV Program Landlord: Same as open rental market


Open Market Landlord: Tenant has no incentive to keep unit in good condition other than security deposit

HCV Program Landlord: Tenant is at risk of losing rental assistance in addition to loss of security deposit by damaging the unit


Open Market Landlord: After initial term, rent increases require 30 days written notice

HCV Program Landlord: After initial term, rent increases require 60 days written notice


Open Market Landlord: All landlord rights granted under State and Federal law

HCV Program Landlord: Same as open rental market.


Open Market Landlord: No case managers familiar with your tenant

HCV Program Landlord: Experienced Housing Specialists assist you with questions and issues. They will encourage model tenancy for continuation of subsidy.


Open Market Landlord: Landlord conducts inspections in accordance with local codes

HCV Program Landlord: NIRHA inspects and approves the unit at initial lease up and annually, thereafter.  This provides the landlord with an objective view of the condition of the property and points out potential problems that can be avoided by the inspection.




14. How can I find a family who is holding a voucher?

Use the free property listing service!  To submit a listing, see the instructions here.


The listings are updated weekly and will remain listed for 60 days.  The listing will be available to eligible Housing Choice Voucher program families looking for a place to live. Eligible families have been determined eligible for rental assistance.  NIRHA has not screened the family for suitability as a renter. 


Families will contact you directly and you take it from there.  After completing your normal screening process, you make the final decision if you want to rent to them.  You will not be under obligation to rent to one of our clients.