The Fort Smith Housing Authority
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Frequently Asked Questions

Tenant’s Responsibilities

  • Voucher recipients are to:  supply any information the FSHA needs during the participation in the program, including initial application and interviews, scheduled or interim re-examinations and changes in the household. This includes evidence of citizenship or eligible immigration status, family income and composition, birth records, adoption papers and proof of custody.
  • Allow FSHA access for Housing Quality Standard inspections of the unit at reasonable times and with reasonable notice.
  • Notify FSHA and the landlord before the family moves out of the unit or terminates the lease.
  • Request FSHA approval to add any other family member as an occupant of the unit.
  • Promptly notify FSHA if any family member no longer an occupant of the unit.
  • FSHA must provide approval for a foster child or live-in aide to live in the unit. FSHA has the option to adopt reasonable policies concerning residence by a foster child or live-in aide.
  • Supply any information or certification requested by FSHA to verify that the family is living in the unit or if there is a family absence from the unit. This includes any FSHA requested information or certification on the purpose of family absences. The family must promptly notify FSHA of any absence from the unit.

 

FSHA Responsibilities

  • Determine the amount of the Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) for a family.
  • Determine the maximum rent to the landlord and whether the rent is reasonable.
  • Examine family income and size at admission and during the family’s participation in the program. This examination includes verification of income and other family information.
  • Administer and enforce the HAP contract with a landlord, including taking appropriate action, as determined by FSHA, if the owner defaults (e.g. Housing Quality Standards (HQS) violation.)
  • Determine whether to terminate assistance to a participating family for violation of family obligations.
  • Conduct informal reviews and hearings of certain FSHA decisions concerning applicants for participation in the program.
  • Provide information for the Family Self-Sufficiency Program (FSS).

 

Housing Choice Voucher Rent Procedures

Request for Tenancy Approval
When a Request for Tenancy Approval (RFTA) is submitted to FSHA, it is forwarded to a Program Specialist to process the affordability of the RFTA. This process determines rent qualifications for the family (cannot pay more than 40% of their gross monthly adjusted income toward rent and utilities). Affordability is calculated based on the tenant’s voucher size, gross income, requested rental amount, and the HUD utility allowance schedule. If the calculation is less than the rent requested on the RFTA, the number will be indicated prior to submission for Rent Reasonableness to be determined.

Determining Rent Reasonableness
FSHA is required to perform assessments to ensure that Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher rents are comparable to current unassisted market rents. The information contained on the FSHA Rent Reasonableness-Data Gathering Form will be compared to units in the rent reasonableness database. The database contains information on similar unit rents throughout Sebastian County. The Database is updated periodically as new information is added and old information is deleted.

Units that are similar to the subject unit will be selected for comparability and rent determination. Three comparable unassisted units are used to determine the area’s market rate. The maximum allowable rent cannot be more than the affordable rate, nor can it be more than the highest comparable unit. The amount offered will be the lesser of the requested rent, affordability calculation, or the highest comparable unassisted unit. Whichever is smaller. It is also important to note that the maximum assistance per family for rent and utilities cannot exceed FSHA’s Payment Standard. 

Data Gathering and Inspections
If the requested rent amount is supported, the Request for Tenancy Approval (RFTA) will be scheduled for inspection. The FSHA uses the Data Gathering Form to obtain rent reasonableness information at initial and annual inspection. This form allows FSHA to consider housing factors that relate to modest housing when determining rent. The data gathered includes but is not limited to:

  • Location
  • Number of Bedrooms
  • Housing Type
  • Utilities (furnished or unfurnished)
  • Condition of unit and yard
  • Appliances (Stove and/or Refrigerator)
  • Parking (Off Street/Garage)
  • Washer & Dryer
  • Air Conditioning (Window or Central)
  • Additional bath

If the requested rent amount is not supported, the owner, landlord or management company will be contacted to discuss and negotiate the rent amount. If agreement is made, the owner or agent must agree in writing to any rent changes prior to any inspections. If an agreement on the rent is not achieved, the rent and RFTA will be denied and the client will be instructed to locate alternative housing. Other events may cause rent reasonableness to be re-determined.

 

The Data Gathering Form is also used by FSHA Inspectors to obtain rental information on vacant units. These forms along with information obtained from other sources are used to update rent reasonableness data.

Rent Reasonableness Recalculation
Should the owner ask for an increase in the rent, rent reasonableness determination is performed again to see if the request is supported by current market conditions. A new affordability and rent reasonableness will have to be done when an owner submits a lease with changes in the utilities or utility providers affecting the contract.

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Copyright (c) 2017 Fort Smith Housing Authority
2100 North 31st Street | Fort Smith, AR 72904 | Phone: 479-782-4991 | Administrative Fax: 479-782-0120 | Section 8 Fax: 479-709-9381