Tenant Moving In FAQ

  • What does HCV mean?
      HCV stands for a housing choice voucher, commonly known as ‘Section 8’. This is a housing subsidy from the federal government for low income families and individuals.
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  • There is a tenant who has a HCV and wants to rent my apartment. What is next?
      Once a tenant expresses interest in renting your apartment as the landlord (LL) if you are interested in renting to the potential tenant, the first thing to do is help the potential tenant fill out the Request for Tenancy Approval (RFTA). For help with how to complete the RFTA. Once the RFTA is completed and all required documents are attached then either the potential tenant or LL submits the packet to CHA.
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  • What are the incentives for the landlord (LL) renting to an HCV tenant?
      1. The Housing Assistance Portion (HAP) is guaranteed rent while in compliance with HCV requirements.                                                              2. Security Deposit – If the LL agrees in writing to accept a reduced security deposit not exceeding the higher of one month’s tenant portion of the rent or $200, CHA will pay the balance of the full contract rent for confirmed tenant damages. Owners must execute a document with the tenant describing the condition of the apartment at commencement of the lease. The written form to reduce the security deposit is in the RFTA packet.                                                                                                                                                                                                             3. Vacancy payments – If the LL agrees in writing to waive the last month’s rent requirement, they may receive a vacancy payment of 80% of one month’s contract rent if tenant vacates without notice and without paying last month’s rent. This includes instances where the tenant has passed away. The written form to waive the last month’s rent in in the RFTA packet. If a LL requires the last month’s rent from the participant they may still access the vacancy payment of 80% of contract rent if they accept another CHA voucher participant. This would be paid regardless of whether the original tenant vacates early. The payment will be prorated if another tenant is leased within the month following the original tenant vacating.
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  • First month’s rent, how does it work?
      When signing the lease some LL’s like to secure the first month’s rent. It is important to note that once the unit is inspected and then the lease is signed the tenant will only be responsible for their portion of the rent which is typically 30% of their gross income. CHA will pay the Housing Assistance Portion (HAP). For example if a tenant’s portion of the rent is $100 and the HAP is $1600 then CHA will pay the $1600 for the first month and the tenant will only pay $100.
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  • Last month’s rent, how does it work?
      Some LL’s like to ask for last month’s rent. However CHA encourages landlords to complete a waiver for the potential vacancy payment. If the LL asks for the last month’s rent instead it is important to note that the LL will only receive the tenant’s portion at the beginning of the lease. Since CHA’s HAP is guaranteed while in compliance of the HCV program the HAP is sent on the last month of tenancy. For example if the tenant’s portion of the rent is $100 and the HAP is $1600 then the LL would only receive the $100 if they are asking for the last month’s rent up front and would receive the $1600 during the last month of tenancy from CHA.
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  • When do the LL and tenant sign the lease?
      A lease shouldn’t be signed until the RFTA is approved by CHA and the unit has passed its initial inspection. For more information on inspections click HERE.
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  • What lease should the LL use?
      The LL should use their own lease with their lease violations for the tenant. An example (not an official CHA document) lease can be found here, the Massachusetts Standard Lease. It is important to know that the first lease must be at least 12 months. If desired after the initial 12 months the lease can go month to month.
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  • Does the LL need to come with the tenant to CHA to sign the lease?
      No the LL and tenant don’t need to go to CHA to sign the lease. They can sign the lease and then send it to CHA after the inspection has been passed.
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  • Why do LL’s have to do direct deposit?
      This is for the LL to receive their rent faster and gives a way of the LL to track any payments made to them.
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  • Why did the first month’s rent come as a check instead of direct deposit?
      The first rent check will be a live check mailed to the LL because the bank needs to verify the direct deposit before it can start. Typically within 30 days the direct deposit is processed and the LL’s should start to receive their direct deposit.
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  • What is an insurance binder?
      An insurance binder is a required document that must be submitted with the RFTA. The insurance binder is a one page document that shows the unit being rented by the potential tenant is insured. In other words proof of insurance.
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  • What is a mutual agreement to terminate a lease and does this tenant need one?
      The mutual agreement to terminate a lease is the tenant’s responsibility. This only applies if the potential tenant was previously in another apartment and would be signed between the previous landlord and the potential tenant.
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  • Does the apartment need an inspection?
      Yes, all units must be inspected before a lease is signed. If the unit is in the City of Cambridge the unit must be inspected by the Board of Heath (BOH). All other towns must be inspected by McCright and Associates. For more information on inspections click HERE.
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  • If the unit is in Cambridge where does the LL get a BOH inspection?
      The City of Cambridge Inspectional Department at 617-349-6100.
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  • Does the apartment have to be de-leaded?
      Units only need to be de-leaded if the potential tenant has children who are 5 years old and younger. If everyone is over 6 years old then no de-leading is needed.
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  • What if the tenant doesn’t pay their portion?
      This should be handled as the LL would handle any tenant not paying their rent. The LL should note it as a lease violation. The LL can also contact a legal services department to receive guidance on how this process works.
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  • Is there anyone to help with tenancy issues or questions at CHA? 
       All people who get leased up are assigned a Leasing Officer at CHA. To find out who the Leasing Officer is you can call the main number at CHA 617-864-3020 and ask.
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