Information for Landlords

Landlord Portal

The Landlord Portal is for landlords, owners, and property managers who house CHA participants.

Change of Ownership

If you are a new landlord/property owner who rents to CHA participants, please complete the documents below and gather the materials needed.

Once you have all five items completed please submit them to klindor@cambridge-housing.org.

The items are:

Listing Apartments with CHA

Each week, CHA generates apartment lists when landlords/property managers supply CHA with information about available, or soon to be available, units for rent.

For more information please visit Listing Your Apartment with CHA.

Other Information

FAQS

Partner Portal

Landlords may access this information via the CHA Partner Portal, available here: https://cha.partnerinhousing.com/. First time users can set up an account using your Tax ID information for the property receiving CHA assistance. If you have more than one Tax ID with CHA, please contact CHA to assist you in setting up your account.

Rent Increase

  • The Rent Increase Request form is available here: https://cambridge-housing.org/civicax/filebank/blobdload.aspx?BlobID=24391. The request must be submitted to CHA with a copy and/or notification to the tenant at least 60 days prior to the requested effective date of the rent increase.
  • Once CHA receives the request they will determine whether the requested rent is reasonable with respect to other units on the market. After review CHA will notify the LL of the outcome of their 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.
  • 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. CHA’s current payment standards are listed here: https://cambridge-housing.org/iam/voucherholders/rates.asp. The payment standards are set according to zip code and the unit size or voucher size (whichever is lower).
  • 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); or (3) The tenant can use their voucher to move to another unit.
  • 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.
  • They need to put the request in writing to CHA at least 60 days in advance of the effective date.
  • CHA will review the request and notify both parties of the outcome.

Households in Project-Based units: the rent increase will not affect the tenant’s portion of the rent.

Households with Tenant-Based vouchers: the rent increase may affect your portion of the rent.

  • If the gross rent (total rent plus utilities) exceeds the payment standard then the tenant portion of the rent may increase
  • The CHA will require both the tenant and the owner to agree to the increase prior to approving and implementing.
  • If the gross rent (total rent plus utilities) does not exceed the payment standard then the tenant portion of the rent will not change, unless the household is also recertifying and there has been changes in household income.

There are some exceptions to the 30-day notice  if the tenant is also in the process of completing their recertification and is delaying the process (i.e. missing appointments with CHA, not providing requested paperwork, etc.) then they may not be entitled to a 30-day notice of a rent increase.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

Contact Mackenzie Gray at mgray@cambridge-housing.org or reach out by phone at (617) 405-5515.

Tenant Moving

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.

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 OR visit the Landlord Portal and view the My Families tab.

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.

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.

  1. The Housing Assistance Payment (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.

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 Payment (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.

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.

A lease shouldn’t be signed until the RFTA is approved by CHA and the unit has passed its initial inspection.

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 at 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.

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.

This is for the LL to receive their rent faster and gives a way of the LL to track any payments made to them.

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.

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.

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.

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.

The City of Cambridge Inspectional Department at 617-349-6100.

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.

Unit Inspection (HQS)

HQS inspections are required by HUD to ensure minimum housing quality standards are met in units subsidized under HUD voucher programs. There are several different types of inspections:

  • The “initial inspection” must occur and pass before CHA can approve a tenant for move-in and enter into a Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) contract with an owner.
  • A “special Inspection” or “complaint inspection” is an inspection that would occur at the request of the Landlord (LL) or tenant.
  • “Annual or biennial inspections” are required to be completed and pass every year or every other year, depending on what program the subsidized tenant is in.
  • “Quality Control (QC) inspections” occur to verify the inspection company is accurately inspecting apartments. A random selection of units/inspections are chosen each month to be re-inspected by a QC inspector.

McCright and Associates is a third-party inspection company that CHA currently contracts with to complete HQS inspections on CHA’s behalf.

  • Generally, the landlord and tenant are both notified of the inspection via mail 30 days in advance of the inspection (for regular annual/biennial inspections). Additionally, a call will be placed to the phone number of file the day before the inspection to provide a time window for the inspection.
  • For initial inspections, McCright and Associates will reach out to the landlord via phone (generally within 48 hours of submission of a complete leasing packet to CHA) to schedule the inspection. Additionally, a call will be placed to the phone number of file the day before the inspection to provide a time window for the inspection.

The LL needs to help the tenant fill out the RFTA (request for tenancy approval) and then prepare the apartment. Ensure the utilities are on for the inspection. Once prepared for the inspection, ensure access to the apartment for the inspector. Once the apartment has passed inspection the LL and tenant can sign a lease and submit to CHA.

To see further guidance on preparing for the inspection/what the inspector looks for, click here.

Both parties would be notified in writing of the failed inspection and why the apartment failed. The LL or tenant would make the repairs listed by the inspector based on who is the responsible party. Once the repairs are complete the responsible party would call McCright and Associates to come back for a second inspection. McCright and Associates’s contact information can be found on the failed inspection notice.

The LL will only receive a 24 hour time frame to fix things that are considered critical if the issue creates an immediate life threatening circumstance. For example, the fire alarm not working or there being no heat in winter.

An extension request can be submitted to CHA if there is good cause for the delay in fixing the cited issues in the apartment. For example, if it is a historical building and a window needs to be replaced but the historical department has delayed the approval process then the LL could submit a written request (which is sent with the failed notice of inspection) to extend the timeframe the repairs need to be completed by. This notice must be received by CHA at least ten days in advance of the date the repairs are due. If repairs are not made then the housing assistance payment (HAP) rent can be withheld or the tenant can be terminated pending who is responsible for the repairs.

Yes, either the LL or 18+ year old tenant must be present for the inspector.

HQS means housing quality standards which are set by the federal government entity HUD.

Inspections are required by HUD to ensure minimum housing quality standards are met. Although, HUD states that hopefully each apartment will surpass the HQS standards. The inspections could happen at four different times, the initial inspection, a special inspection, a biennial inspection, and a quality control inspection.

  1. Initial inspection is the required first inspection in order to lease a HCV/PBA tenant.
  2. Special Inspection is an inspection that would occur at the request of the Landlord (LL) or tenant. For example if the LL believes that the tenant has caused damage beyond the normal wear and tear or the tenant utilities are shut off for non-payment then the LL can request an interim inspection.
  3. Biennial Inspections happen every other year as is required by HUD.
  4. Quality Control (QC) inspections occur to verify the inspection company is accurately inspecting apartments.

Click here to see the different classifications of housing.

Tenant based vouchers, upon notice the LL should contact CHA’s leasing officer assigned to the tenant. If the LL is unsure of who the leasing officer is they can call the main number at 617-864-3020 and ask or visit the Landlord Portal and go to the my families tab. Project based units should have the unit inspected even if it’s a vacant unit.