Welcome Section 8 Participants!

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. The landlord asked me to pay more money than approved by NIRHA for rent, utilities, garage, etc. Is it all right for me to pay the additional amount? 
  2. Can I add someone to my lease/household? 
  3. What is “Rent Reasonableness”?
  4. What is the purpose of “Rent Reasonableness”?
  5. What are the responsibilities of the tenant, landlordand NIRHA?
  6. What do inspectors look for during the Housing Quality Standard (HQS) inspection?
  7. What are the most common items that fail inspections?
  8. What is portability?

  1. The landlord asked me to pay more money than approved by NIRHA for rent, utilities, garage, etc.  Is it all right for me to pay the additional amount? 
    Absolutely not!  Families can only pay the amount specified by NIRHA. This amount reflects what you can afford, based on income and family composition reported to NIRHA.  It is considered fraud if the landlord requires you to pay anything other than what has been 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 also be terminated from the program.


  1. Can I add someone to my lease/household? 
    A request to add someone to the household of a current program participant MUST be placed in writing and submitted to your assigned Housing Specialist. The request must detail where the person lived before (unless a newborn child, or new spouse), why it's necessary to add the person to your household, and what income the person may have. In some cases, additional documents may be required.   You must have your landlord’s approval to add anyone else to the household. 


  1. What is “Rent Reasonableness”?
    Housing authorities are required to compare the rent paid for units being assisted to units that are 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. What are the responsibilities of the tenant, landlord and NIRHA?
    The program is a three-way partnership between the family, the owner/landlord and NIRHA.

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 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

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 vacated by the family  
  • Notify NIRHA of plans to sell the unit
  • Certify they are not related to the family

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 Standards (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 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 is portability?
    Portability allows eligible families to lease a unit anywhere in the United States where there is a housing agency operating a housing choice voucher program.