Rent Increase Frequently Asked Questions

  • What does FMR mean?
      Fair Market Rents (FMRs) are used to determine payment standard amounts for the Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) Section 8 program. FMRs are established by HUD each year for each geographic area, and are set based on estimated rents in the region.
  • What does the payment standard mean?
      The payment standard is the maximum subsidy CHA can pay on behalf of a family. Each year, CHA establishes payment standards based on the HUD-established Fair Market Rents (FMR) for the area. For units located in Cambridge, CHA uses the Cambridge payment standard. For units outside of Cambridge (but still within CHA's area of operation) CHA uses Boston's payment standards. For the current payment standards click HERE.
  • What does the payment standard have to do with the rent increase request?
      The payment standard is the maximum subsidy CHA can pay on behalf of a family.  If the landlord (LL) requests a rent that is above the payment standard that CHA can approve then                                                                                                                                                                    (1) The LL can either lower the requested amount so that it is within the payment standard.                                                                                    (2) The tenant has the option to pay more than 30% of their  income (as long as it does not exceed 40% of their income, or otherwise approved by CHA).                                                                                                                                                                                                                      (3) The tenant can use their voucher to move to another unit.
  • Why does it matter when the tenant recertifies with CHA?
      The payment standard is only updated during an annual or biennial recertification. Even if the payment standards have changed, CHA will use the payment standard that was in effect at the participant's last annual or biennial recertification when determining the rent amounts.
  • What are utility allowances?
      The utility allowance (UA) is allotted to the tenant based on what utilities they are responsible to pay. To see current UA’s click HERE
  • Are utilities included in the total gross rent?
      Yes, the utilities are added to the total rent requested by the LL and together equals the total gross rent. For example, if a tenant is responsible to pay gas heat and they are allotted $80 from CHA for the heat and the LL requests $1690 for rent then the total gross rent for the apartment is $1770. If the payment standard is $1776 then the total contracted rent of $1770 would be within the payment standard.
  • How do you request a rent increase?
      Landlords (LL) may request a rent increase once per year. The request must be submitted to CHA and a copy to the tenant at least 60 days prior to the requested effective date of the rent increase. The LL must notify both parties either by using the Rent Increase Request Form, or the LL may send the tenant and CHA a written notice for the requested rent increase. The notice must include the tenant name and address, the landlord/ management companies name and address, the requested effective date of the rent increase, the current rent and the new requested rent. The notice must also be signed and dated by the LL or management company. Once CHA receives the request they are tasked with the responsibility of determining that rent for all apartments subsidized by the Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) program are reasonable with respect to other units on the market. After review CHA will notify the LL of the outcome of their rent increase.
  • After the submitted rent increase request there was a notice received that states the rent increase request is above the payment standard but it is reasonable and to send an agreement between the LL and tenant. What does this mean?
      This means the LL must write a letter that must include the tenant and LL/management companies name and address, the total rent requested, the tenant’s new portion, the date the increase is in effect and then both the LL and tenant must sign and date the letter. Then the letter must be submitted back to CHA at rentincreases@cambridge-housing.org
  • What to do if there is no response to my rent increase request?
  •           Contact rentincreases@cambridge-housing.org      

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