Specializing in HUD, VA & Foreclosures

"We Really Do Care"

Allen Realty, Inc.

8314 Liberty Road

Baltimore, Maryland 21244

ar@allenrealty.net

410-496-6700 Office

410-496-1853 Fax     

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BNI

(Baltimore Neighborhoods, Inc.)

2217 St. Paul Street

Baltimore, Maryland 21218

Baltimore metropolitan area (410) 243-6007

Statewide toll-free: 1-800-487-6007

BNI is a Ďnonprofit citizensí organization established in 1959. It operates statewide with a representative 35-member Board of Directors.

BNIíS PURPOSE IS TO HELP:

Maintain viable interracial communities by

Providing advice and assistance on how to maintain neighborhood diversity.

Fighting block busting, racial steering, and racial harassment in cooperation with other appropriate agencies.

Create an open housing market by

Educating the public and the housing industry as to state, federal, and local laws forbidding discrimination by reason of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, marital status, familial status, sexual orientation, physical or mental handicap.

Encouraging all home seekers to consider the total housing market.

Upholding fair housing laws by investigating complaints of housing discrimination and by monitoring the sale and rental of housing.

Improve tenant-landlord relations by

Mediating disputes between tenants and landlords.

Giving advice and information to landlords and tenants on landlord-tenant problems.

Encouraging the formation of tenant organizations.

 

BREAKING A LEASE

The desire or need to break a lease is a frequent issue.

 

"I signed a lease in the morning. That afternoon, I asked that the lease be canceled. The landlord refused. Doesnít the law give me time to change my mind"?

Maryland law allowing for a three day contract cancellation period only covers activities of door-to-door salespeople, health club memberships and certain credit transactions.

"I need to break my lease in order to find a cheaper apartment".

You may have trouble obtaining another apartment if your proposed new landlord checks with your current landlord. Besides, if you break the lease, you may end up owing two or more months of rent plus redecorating costs. It will probab1y be cheaper to stay where you are even if you have to borrow money in order to complete the lease.

"I have lost my job and simply cannot afford to stay in the apartment".

Unfortunately, loss of a job is not a legal reason for getting out of a lease. Some landlords allow tenants to buy their way out of a lease by paying atleast two monthsí rent. It may be possible to do this and to arrange payments over a period of time.

"If management doesnít maintain the property properly, should I not be able to break my lease?"

Normally the remedy for poor maintenance is to file a complaint with the local housing inspectors and/or to send a rent escrow letter by certified mail to the landlord indicating that future rent will not be paid unless repairs are made. If the repairs needed are substantial and the landlordís response to requests for repairs is poor, it is also possible to petition the court, in a rent escrow process, for termination of the lease.

"I have been transferred some distance away and it takes too long to commute".

Unfortunately, you are still bound by the lease and may have to suffer a significant loss for breaking the lease. Sometimes, however, a long commute for a few months will be well worth the considerable saving in not having broken the lease.

Maryland law allows a person on active military duty who has received a temporary duty order for a period of three months or an order for permanent change of station to end a lease without being responsible for more than 30 days rent and the cost of repairing any damage to the premises caused by the tenant.

"My lease says Ďno petsí, so why canít I get a pet and have the landlord tell me to leave?"

You can do this, but the landlord will hold you liable for lost rent, because you were in breach of lease!

"I am continually disturbed by noisy tenants, and the landlord refuses to remedy the situation".

The tenant may file a breach of lease action for the landlordís failure to assure quiet enjoyment of the premises, thus in fact, constructively evicting the tenant. The tenant should ask the court to end the lease arid cover moving expenses. Obviously, all will depend upon the tenantsí ability to prove the situation. This is certainly a less risky procedure than moving and using constructive eviction as a defense against the landlordís suit for lost rent.

"I need to break the lease, because I am buying a house".

The tenant is still obligated for lost rent. Because few tenants are able to make the ending of a lease coincide with the purchase of a house, the cost of breaking the lease should be viewed simply as a cost of buying a house. A tenant is generally in a more advantageous position in buying a house than a homeowner who also has to sell a house in order to buy another one. The savings in house prices today and in low interest rates will most likely more than compensate for the rent that must be paid when a lease is broken.

"What is the responsibility of the landlord when a lease is broken?

May the landlord refuse to allow me to sublet the property?"

The landlord must make a reasonable effort to mitigate his damages by trying to rent the apartment as soon as possible. He canít hide the fact that your apartment is now available, but he doesnít have to put your apartment ahead of other vacancies. With vacancy rates being higher than normal, it may take two to four months before the property is rented.

A landlord does not have to allow subletting to anyone who is not qualified, but in general, a landlord cannot arbitrarily refuse to allow subletting or leasing to another qualified tenant. If he did this, he would not be mitigating his damages.

"What happens if a tenant or landlord dies?"

Unless the lease provides otherwise, the death of a tenant or landlord does not terminate the lease and does not terminate the responsibilities under the lease. Thus, the landlordís successor continues as landlord and a tenantís estate becomes responsible for lost rent if the tenantís heirs end the lease.

Under Montgomery County law, a tenant may terminate a lease within 30 days, after giving written notice to the landlord, due to involuntary change of employment, death of a major wage earner, unemployment, or for other reasonable cause beyond the tenantís control. Any charge in those cases may not exceed one monthís rent or actual costs incurred by the landlord, whichever is less.

In Baltimore City, rent damages for breaking a lease is limited to 2 months rent or actual damages, whichever is less.

 

SECURITY DEPOSITS

Maryland Code, Real Property Article, Section 8-203

This law applies to all residential tenancies, whether the lease is written or oral.

Definition- a "security deposit" is any payment of money, including the final monthís rent paid in advance, which is given to the landlord by the tenant in order to protect the landlord against nonpayment of rent or damage to the leased premises.

Maximum amount- the maximum amount which the landlord may require as a security deposit for each dwelling unit is the equivalent of two monthís rent. This is regardless of the number of tenants in the unit. if the landlord charges more than this, the tenant may recover up to three times the excess amount plus reasonable attorneyís fees. The tenantís action to recover this amount may be brought at any time during the tenancy or within two years after termination.

Receipt- the landlord must give to tenant a written receipt for the security deposit and is liable to the tenant for $25 if he fails to do so. The receipt may be included m the written lease.

List of existing damages- either the lease or the receipt must contain language informing the tenant of his right to receive from the landlord a written list of all existing damage to the leased premises if the tenant so requests in writing within the first 15 days of his occupancy.

If requested, the landlord must provide the list of damages. If he does not, he is liable to the tenant for three times the amount of the security deposit. This liability of the landlord may be reduced by any damages or unpaid rent which he is entitled to under this section.

Bank account- the landlord shall maintain all security deposits in federally insured financial institutions, as defined in section 1-101 of the Maryland Financial Institutions Article, which do business m the state. The landlord must deposit the amount of each security deposit in that account within 30 days after receiving it. The security deposit account cannot be attached by the landlordís creditors. In the event of sales or transfer of any sort, including receivership or bankruptcy, the security deposit is binding on the successor in interest to the person to whom the deposit is given.

Return of deposit to tenant; interest- the landlord must, within 45 days after the end of tenancy, return to tenant the security deposit minus any amount which he may rightfully withhold. Simple interest of 4% per year must be paid on security deposits of $50 or more and must accrue at 6 month intervals from the day the security deposit was given. if the landlord, without good reason, fails to return any part of the security deposit within 45 days after the end of the tenancy, he is liable to the tenant for up to three times the withheld amount of the security deposit plus reasonable attorneyís fees.

Withholding of deposit- the security deposit, or any portion thereof, may be withheld for unpaid rent, damage due to breach of lease or for damage by the tenant or the tenantís family, agents, employees, guest or invitees in excess of ordinary wear and tear to the leased premises, common areas, major appliances, and furnishings owned by the landlord.

If the tenant notifies the landlord by certified mail that he intends to move out, the date of moving and his new address, he will have the right to be present when the landlord inspects the premises to determine if any damage was done. The notice must be mailed at least 15 days prior to date of moving. Landlord must then notify tenant by certified mail of the time and date of inspection, which must be within 5 days before or 5 days after tenantís move.

If the landlord fails to notify tenant in writing at the time of payment of the security deposit, of his rights under this subsection relating to the inspection, then the landlord forfeits the right to withhold any part of the Security deposit for damages, including unpaid rent.

If the landlord attempts to use the deposit to compensate for breach of the leased agreement, he can only claim the actual amount of money lost due to the tenantís breach. If the landlord re-rents the property before the end of the tenantís term, his actual damages are reduceí by the amount he gains from the new agreement.

Notice to tenant- if the landlord withholds any part of the security deposit, he must send to the tenant by first class mail to his last known address, a written list of the damages he claims, together with a statement of costs actually incurred. If the landlord fails to do this within 45 days after termination, he loses the right to use the deposit to offset damages, including unpaid rent.

Tenant ejected or evicted or abandoning- where tenant has been evicted or ejected for breach of the lease, or has abandoned the premises prior to termination of the lease, the procedure for return of the security deposit is as follows:

Within 45 days after leaving the premises, tenant sends to landlord by first class mail a request for return of the security deposit, and informs landlord of tenantís new address.

Within 45 days of receipt of the notice, landlord sends to tenant, by first class mail, a list of damages deducted from the security deposit and a statement of costs actually incurred. Within 45 days of receipt of tenantís notice, landlord sends to tenant the security deposit with simple interest of 4% per year minus damages properly withheld.

If landlord fails to send the list of damages, he forfeits the right to withhold any part of the security deposit for damages. if he fails to return the security deposit as required, tenant may sue for up to three times the withheld amount, plus reasonable attorneyís fees.

Waiver of sectionís provisions- the provisions of this law cannot be waived in any lease.

NOTE: INTEREST ON SECURITY DEPOSITS

Security deposits began to earn interest on March 5, 1973. From March 5, 1973 to July 1, 1980, the rate was 3% per year. On July 2, 1980, the rate was increased to 4%.

 

MAKING REPAIRS OR IMPROVEMENTS TO A LANDLORDíS PROPERTY

A golden rule is that a tenant should not, make improvements or repairs to a landlordís property without the permission of the landlord. Such permission should be in writing. A tenant should d not dispose of a landlordís property without receiving written permission.

There are numerous instances where tenants may ask a landlord if they can get rid of old wall-to-wall carpeting or of an old refrigerator, no longer working properly, in order to replace it with a new refrigerator owned by the tenant. Permission is given orally only to be denied at the end of the tenancy.

A tenant may have had a furnace problem on a weekend, had it fixed and wants to deduct it from the rent. The landlord refuses to be responsible for the repair and takes the tenant to Rent Court, where the tenant will have a hard time because there is no law giving the tenant the right to make a repair and to deduct. it from the rent -- even in an emergency (the tenant may have a case for Small Claims Court, depending on the circumstances).

Strange as it stems, some tenants despairing of any action by the landlord, actually make hundreds of dollars of repairs and improvements to a landlordís property without permission or written promise of being recompensed for the repairs. Then the tenant decides to leave or has a dispute with the landlord who refuses to renew the lease. The tenant now wants to be recompensed for labor and expenses but has no real claim on the landlord. (If one has a yearís lease and the apartment needs painting, it may well be worth the tenantís expense and labor to paint the apartment with the same color paint -- preferably with the landlordís permission -- but it is not wise to do more than will be "used up" in a year).

Many tenants want to know if they make certain improvements to the property can they take the improvements with them when they leave.

The general principle is that if the improvement becomes an integral part of the property, then the tenant must leave the improvement. Thus, if a tenant replaces glass in a window, uses his nails to repair loose steps, etc., the improvements should be left. On the other hand, if the improvements, even if attached to the premises, can be removed without serious damage to the premises, then the improvements may be removed -- such as the bookshelves, wall-to-wall carpeting, shrubbery, etc. Such removal should occur before the tenant surrenders the property".

Finally, both tenants and landlords should be very careful about oral agreements for tenants to make repairs in lieu of rent or for reduced rent. There should be a careful written agreement as to how much is to be done; by when is it to be done; how much effort is to be expended -- for example, one coat of paint or two coats; the quality of the supplies and who is to pay for them, etc., and what are the terms of the tenancy when the work has been done.

 

RENTERSí INSURANCE

Most tenants do not realize their need for rentersí insurance until it is too late.

The upstairs tenant caused a water overflow, which seriously damaged furniture and clothing. While the negligent tenant may be suited, it is easier for an insurance company to handle the situation. A rainstorm caused the county storm sewer system to back up, flooding basement apartments. Not only is there damage to the tenantsí property, but they have to go to a motel while their apartments are being repaired. A plastic container fell on a lighted stove resulting in $800 smoke damage. An apartment is burglarized. A guest is injured. Occurrences such as these can be expensive for an uninsured tenant.

Many tenants believe that their landlordís insurance will cover their losses, but this is hardly ever so. Such insurance covers damage to the landlordís property and protects him against the claims of negligence. The landlord may also have a substantial deductible, so that a tenant who negligently damages the landlordís property may be required to cover the deductible. The landlordís insurance company can also sue the tenant for the full extent of the damage if the tenant is proven negligent.

A tenant needs to be aware that standard rentersí policies cover structural damage to the tenantís apartment caused by fire, smoke, and explosion, but do not cover damage done to the apartment that is normally covered by a security deposit, such as stains on wall4o-wall carpeting, damage to appliances, etc. Liability for damage to other apartments, such as water damage, and to other tenantsí property will, however, be covered by most policies.

Most commercial insurance companies offer rentersí policy that protect furniture, household contents and personal belongings against fire, vandalism, theft, water damage, etc., as well as the costs of living elsewhere while repairs are being made. Coverage for storm sewer back-ups is optional coverage and requires an additional fee. These policies also provide personal liability coverage for medical payments to others costs of defending suites, etc.

A tenant should carefully list and describe all personal property and the cost of those items. Receipts should be kept as proof of those costs. Photographs or videotapes of property would also be valuable documentation. Such documentation should be stored outside the apartment in a safe place.

Tenants should compare several policies and choose one suitable to their needs and pocketbooks. A reasonable basic policy may be obtained for $150-$200 per year.

 

RETALIATORY ACTIONS PROHIBITED

Maryland Code, Real Property, Section 8-208.1

A landlord may not evict, may not increase rent, and may not decrease services to which a tenant is entitled, for any of the following reasons:

Solely because tenant or his agent had filed a written complaint with the landlord or with a public agency against the landlord;

Solely because tenant or his agent had filed a lawsuit against the landlord;

Solely because tenant is member or organizer of a tenantís organization.

If landlord brings an eviction proceeding against a tenant and judgment is for the tenant on the basis of one of the above defenses, tenant may be awarded reasonable attorneyís fees and court costs.

The protection provided by this law is not available to the following tenants:

In month-to-month tenancies or tenancies measured by periods of more than one month, there have been 4 or more judgments of possession for rent due entered against the tenant in the 12 months preceding the filing of the action.

In weekly tenancies, there have been 6 or more judgments for possession for rent due entered against the tenant in the preceding 12 months, or, where the tenant has lived in the dwelling for more than 6 months or less, there have been 3 or more judgments of possession for rent due entered against the tenant.

The protection against "retaliatory eviction" as defined by this law lasts for 6 months after the determination of the original case by a court or administrative agency. This law does not affect either landlordís or tenantís rights arising from breach of the lease, or either partyís right to terminate or not renew a lease in accordance with the terms of the lease or other provisions of law.

If any county enacts an ordinance comparable to this section in subject matter, the local ordinance will supersede this state law.

 

SMALL CLAIMS COURT

One of the prime causes of dispute between tenants and landlords involves charges to the security deposit. If these disputes cannot be resolved -- and many are not -- and the sum involved is $2,500 or less, the tenant can sue in Small Claims Court. This is a relatively informal and simple procedure in which most tenants are able to represent themselves without the aid of a lawyer.

The suit should be filed as soon as possible, but within three years of the time the dispute arises, in the County where the rental property is located. The landlord must be summoned to Court by use of certified mail, a sheriff or a private process server -- either a professional or someone, such as a friend or relative, not directly involved in the case.

The first step is to obtain the correct name and address of the landlord -~ not always available to a tenant. This may be obtained from the City/County office of Assessments and Taxation. If the landlord is a corporation, it needs to be sued care of its corporate Resident Agent, whose name and address can be obtained from the Stateís Corporate Charter Department (410-225-1340).

The case should be prepared as carefully and concisely as possible, keeping to the essential points and not introducing past experiences or disputes which have no relevancy as to the security deposit. Make an outline of your presentation. Visit the Small Claims Court before the trial to gain a feel for the situation.

Bring all relevant documents to court. File a subpoena duces tecum requiring the landlord to bring to court any documents that you believe to be relevant, such as repair bills, equipment invoices, etc.

Should you have actually damaged an item beyond worthwhile repair, such as a refrigerator, be aware that many professional landlords depreciate moveable items, including wall-to wall carpeting, in seven years.

You should only be responsible for residual value.

Be aware that the landlord can only charge reasonable fees for his labor such as what the average cleaning person might charge for cleaning a house.

The landlord may want you to pay for redecorating the house, but unless you have marred the walls or painted the walls a different color, he should not have a valid claim.

Have witnesses that will testify as to the condition of the house when you moved in and when you vacated the property.

Be aware that the landlord must have informed you in writing, when he gave you the security deposit receipt, of your right to be present at the final inspection of the property. He must also send you an itemization of claims against the security deposit within 45 days of the end of the tenancy. If he fails to do this, he loses the right to charge the security deposit for any damage, including lost rent.

A pamphlet describing the Small Claims Court process in detail is available from your local District Court.

 

SMALL CLAIMS COURT DIVISION Ė General Information

(Reprinted with permission of the District Court of Maryland)

THE DISTRICT COURT OF MARYLAND

The District Court of Maryland has exclusive jurisdiction in civil matters of claims involving $2,500 or less. Claims involving amounts above $2,500 and below $20,000 may be filed in the Circuit Court as well as the District Court. The District Court does not have jurisdiction of claims involving amounts in excess of $20,000 except in Landlord-Tenant matters of in replevin.

The procedures for handling all claims filed in the District Court are the same. However, special rules provide for a simpler procedure for the trial of small claims.

 

WHAT IS MARYLAND SMALL CLAIMS COURT?

Small Claims Court is a division of the District Court of Maryland. It handles disputes involving no more than $2,500 and does so with less formality than other Maryland courts. The Courtís rules of procedures and evidence are relaxed to make it easier for persons to represent themselves without hiring attorneys, although parties may have attorneys represent them if they choose. An officer of a corporation may appear on behalf of the corporation in a civil suit involving a claim not exceeding $2,500. The cases are decided by the judge. There is no jury.

A lawsuit may be filed in Small Claims Court in the District Court if:

The suit is for money only (not for the return of property or performance of a service, for example).

The suit is for no more than $2,500 plus interests and costs.

The person filing suit (plaintiff) is at least 18 years old. If the plaintiff is not 18 years old, another person who is at least 18 years old must sue on the plaintiffís behalf.

 

BEFORE THE SUE

 

SETTLEMENT PROCEDURES

Many cases come to trial needlessly because the parties have not attempted to communicate with each other. Before filing suit, you should make every effort to resolve the dispute by settling it out of court.

There are drawbacks to going to trial. It may be time consuming, and even if you win your case, you may have trouble collecting the money. Also, if you win, the defendant may appeal the decision, and you may have to go through a new trial in Circuit Court. Therefore, you may decide to settle for a lesser amount rather than go to trial. If you cannot settle the claim before filing suit, you may still settle after filing suit. In deciding the amount you will accept as a settlement, remember to consider any amount already spent in court costs.

Before filing suit, it is advisable to send a letter to the intended defendant warning that you will sue unless your claim is satisfied within a stated period of time. The letter should be sent by certified mail, with return receipt requested.

 

SHOULD YOU SEE AN ATORNEY?

There are times when it may be necessary or advisable to consult an attorney, for example:

If your case involves personal injury and medical expense. You should almost see an attorney in almost all such cases, for they may not be appropriate for Small Claims Court.

If your case involves damages resulting from a traffic accident. If the defendant is insured, he probably will be represented by an attorney provided by the insurance company, and you may also wish to have an attorney.

If you have difficulty filling out the forms of have unanswered questions about preparing your case.

An attorney may be available under the terms of one of several programs now in effect. Check with the lawyer Referral Service listed in your telephone book or with Legal Aid.

WHEN TO FILE SUIT

File your case as soon as it is reasonably possible. If you wait too long, the defendant may be able to defeat your claim by raising the STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS, the law which requires that suits brought within a certain period of time. In Maryland, most cases must be filed within three years of the time when it was first possible to sue, but some must be filed sooner and some may be filed later.

HOW TO FILE SUIT

In order to commence an action, you must file a Complaint which will be supplied to you by the clerk of the court and you must pay certain court costs. There are also fees for delivery of the papers to each defendant. If you are uncertain as to how to complete the form, you may seek the assistance and advice of the clerk.

WHERE TO FILE SUIT

You should file your complaint in a contract action in the county where the defendant resides, carries on a regular business or is employed. If there are multiple defendants, you may file in the county where any of them could be sued. A corporation which has no principal place of business in the State may be sued where you reside. In a tort action you may file the suit where the cause of action arose. The defendant may claim improper venue. This is done by a motion filed with the Court and delivered to you. The Court may transfer the case to any county in which it should have been brought.

RIGHT TO JURY TRIAL

There is a right to a trial by jury where the amount in controversy exceeds the sum of $500. The plaintiff may request a jury by trial at the time of filing the complaint if his complaint is within the exclusive jurisdiction of the District Court (under $2,500).

The defendant may elect a trial by jury by filing a written demand within 10 days after the time for filing a Notice of Intention to Defend.

 

Housing Authority

of Baltimore City

 

Section 8 Program

 

Landlord Information Packet

 

 

 

Division of Rental and Assisted Housing

300 Cathedral Street, 3rd Floor

Baltimore, Maryland 21201

(410) 396-4097

 

General Program Information

 

Explanation of the Section 8 Housing Program

The rules and regulations for the Section 8 Housing Program are determined by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). The purpose of the Section 8 Housing Program is to provide rental assistance to eligible low income families.

Two Programs: Similarities and Differences

There are two Section 8 tenant-based Rental Assistance Programs---the Certificate Program and the Housing Voucher Program. Although the rules for the two are very similar, there is a difference in how the amount of the familyís rent is determined. There is also a difference in some of the forms used in the two programs.

Certificate Program

The amount of the familyís rental payment to the owner is based on a percentage of the familyís total income, usually 30% of the adjusted monthly income, depending on whether or not utilities are included in the rent.

The HA will pay the difference between the familyís portion of the rent and the total amount of the rent for the housing unit (Contract Rent).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Housing Voucher Program

The maximum amount that the HA will pay is an amount equal to the Payment Standard minus 30% of the familyís adjusted monthly income.

The Payment Standard

Is established by the HA

Is based on the cost of housing and utilities for your area

Depends on the family composition and the bedroom size if the unit. For example, the payment standard is higher for families requiring 3-bedroom units than for families requiring 1 Ėbedroom units.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Relationships

and

Responsibilities

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

STEPS TO ASSISTANCE

After a family has been selected from the waiting list, several steps must be completed before a family can receive rental assistance.

STEP 1: THE HOUSING AUTHORITY (HA) DETERMINES FAMILYíS FINAL ELIGIBILITY

Family is selected from the waiting list and income and household composition is reviewed for final eligibility.

STEP 2: CERTIFICATE OR VOUCHER ISSUED

When a family is determined to be eligible for the program and finding is available, HA issues them a Certificate of Family Participation or a Housing Voucher. The family receives the Certificate or Voucher at the tenant briefing.

STEP 3: FAMILY DECIDES WHERE TO LIVE

A family must locate a housing unit that meets the program rules. That can be where they live right now or a totally different unit. The HA can help in some ways, but the primary responsibility for finding a suitable unit to rent is the familyís. A family has 60 days to locate a suitable unit. The HA may extend the search period for another 60 days.

STEP 4: OWNER APPROVES FAMILY

Even though a family is determined by the HA to be eligible for the program, the owner must approve the family as a suitable renter. The HA knows that the owner has approved the family when a Request for Lease Approval form is submitted.

STEP 5: HA APPROVES LEASE AND UNIT

After a family finds a suitable unit and the owner approves the family, the HA needs to determine if the unit qualifies for the Section 8 Program. This includes a Housing Quality Standards inspection.

STEP 6: RENT APPROVED

After the unit has been inspected and approved, the rent negotiator approves the rent based on market value, fair market rent limitations and amenities of the unit.

STEP 7: CONTRACT AND LEASE SIGNED

A signed lease between the owner and tenant and an addendum to the lease must be sent to the HA. The HA will then enter into a Contract with the owner.

STEP 8: HOUSING ASSISTANCE PAYMENTS MADE

After the HAP Contract and lease are signed, the HA makes the initial HAP payment and continues to make monthly payments to the owner as long as the family continues to meet eligibility criteria and the housing unit qualifies under the program.

The Section 8 Program

The term "Section 8" describes a number of Federal subsidy programs that allow low and moderate income families to rent from private landlords. Qualified tenants pay a portion of the rent, while the Federal Government pays the rest. The Section 8 program is under the control of the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and is administered in Baltimore through the Housing Authority of Baltimore City.

The Basics

Objectives: Make an informed decision about whether you want to rent through Section 8. Understand the legal and practical similarities and differences between subsidized and private rentals.

Before renting through Section 8, become familiar with the Program. Read your contracts carefully; there are significant differences from the rental contracts with which you may be familiar.

Assure that applicable lease provisions which you want included, are spelled out in an addendum agreed to by both the tenant and the Housing Authority.

The Benefits

 

Reliable rent. A portion of the rent is guaranteed by the Federal Government. You will get your check for the guaranteed portion every month. Of course, these guarantees apply as long as you meet your obligations under the contract.

Some Misconceptions

HUD and the Housing Authority prescreen applicants along the sanze guidelines that a landlord would use.

FALSE. HUD and the Housing Authority of Baltimore City screen only for certification requirements primarily income level) to determine whether the tenant is eligible to receive assistance with rent payments. It is up to the landlord to screen the tenants; to assure they can pay the remainder of the rent, check their rental record through previous landlords, and run all other checks the same way you would with private rentals.

A landlord participating in the Section 8 Program cannot file against a tenant in court.

FALSE. A participating landlord may take a Section 8 tenant to court. The landlord must file against a tenant according to Maryland State Law. The same holds true for non-Section 8 tenants. A landlord must, however, send copies of all 60-day notices, court notices, and eviction notices to the Section 8 office.

The Housing Authority will pay a landlord for any damages to a property inflicted by a tenant.

FALSE. It is the landlordís responsibility to collect a full security deposit from the tenant prior to the tenant moving in. The landlord should also make periodic visits to the property to ensure safekeeping.

The Housing Authority has the authority to evict a tenant from a property.

FALSE. The Housing Authority can and may terminate a tenantís rental assistance under the Section 8 program if they violate certain rules and regulations of the program. An eviction is a court action that is implemented by the landlord as a result of a breach of a lease agreement.

 

A landlord may determine a tenantís rent portion.

FALSE. The tenantís income eligibility is determined by the Section 8 program. Rent portions are set during annual recertifications and interim periods if necessary. At no time should a tenantís rent portion be adjusted by a landlord.

 

 

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