Frequently Asked Questions
Applications and Waiting Lists
How do I apply for the program?
Applying is easy. When a waiting list is open, print an application from our Website. Complete the form and return it to us by mail, fax, or email. If you cannot print our application, please call us and we will send one to you.
Do I have to have children to apply?
No! A family may be made up of one person or many people. You decide who makes up your family. Eligibility is based on income. You must be considered low-income to be eligible. (View Income Limits (PDF)
Can I apply for more than one county or program?
Yes, but you must complete a new application for each county. Each county’s waiting list is separate from any other waiting list. If you want to apply for more than one area, you must complete the entire application for each county or program.
Why is each list kept separately?
When vouchers are issued in a county, it is for people who want to live in that county. If you apply for a county and are not a resident of that county, you will need to move to that area and live there for one (1) year when you receive a voucher.
What happens after you get my application?
Once we receive an application, we perform background checks as required by HUD, as well as calculate an estimate of your income based on the information on the application. Eligible applicants’ name will be placed on the waiting list for that county. Waiting lists are maintained by date and time of application. A letter will be sent advising you of your status. If you are denied, you will also be notified of the denial and given the opportunity to request and informal hearing.
What kind of background checks are done before I can get on the waiting list? Can I have a criminal history?
We check the National Sex Offenders website to see if anyone in the household is a lifetime sex offender. Lifetime offenders will never be eligible for rental assistance. We check circuit court records to see if you have been convicted of a violent or drug related crime. We look back over the last ten (10) years. We check a national HUD database to see if you owe money to a past Housing Agency or if you left a Housing program because of eviction. If your criminal history is not violent or drug related, you might be eligible for the program.
How long is the waiting list?
All of our waiting lists are long. When a waiting list is open, the wait might be 3 – 5 years until you receive a voucher. If the waiting list is closed, we anticipate that the wait for those already on the list could be as long as 6 years.
Why are the lists so long?
The lists are long because the funding for this program is limited. Congress determines the amount of money that is budgeted for the nationwide Housing Choice Voucher Program. HUD must then determine how much money is available for every Housing Agency running the program. The Housing Agency helps as many families as possible, using the available money. Each family receiving voucher assistance may keep their assistance until they no longer need it or they are terminated from the program. Once we allocate the money HUD gives us, we are unable to help new families. Families need to leave the program before we can offer that assistance to a new household.
I sent my application, update, change of address, or change of income and no one has contacted me. What should I do?
We are required to send you an application status letter within ten (10) business days from the receipt of an application. When we update the waiting lists, we try to send you a confirmation of your new status within thirty days of the deadline to return date listed in your letter. All updates and changes concerning your household makeup, income, and change of address are to be sent to us in writing. If you do not get a response from us within thirty (30) days, please call the field manager for that jurisdiction. Sometimes mail is lost and we do not receive your updated information.
I need EMERGENCY funding right now, I am about to be or am homeless.
The Housing Choice Voucher Program is not an emergency rental assistance program. We have no emergency funds. The City of West Bend has a waiting list preference for homelessness. If funds are available, homeless households receive assistance first in West Bend. If funds are not available, homeless applicant’s names are placed on the waiting list for future funding.
I have a voucher, but I do not have any money for a Security Deposit, does this program help?
No. The Housing Choice Voucher Program is a rental assistance program and has no money to help with Security Deposits or escrows.
When will a closed waiting list be re-opened?
No specific time period is set for this. We will address all the applicants whose name appears on our waiting lists before a list is reopened. When we reopen a waiting list, we must advertise in your local newspaper and tell surrounding Housing Agencies the list is open. We also send flyers to the local county Human Service offices and other social service agencies in the area. You can always check out website to see if a list has reopened, too.
Can I use my voucher to buy a home?
No. Neither WHEDA or the West Bend Housing Authority is participating in HUD’s home buyer program.
I own my own manufactured (mobile) home. May I use my voucher to help pay my lot rent?
Maybe. Recent changes in WHEDA’s administrative plan allow funding for qualifying lot rents. Check with your Field Manager to see if you qualify.
Owner and Landlord FAQs
What are the requirements for an owner's Rental unit?
An owner must agree to accept the voucher assistance toward payment of rent for a voucher holder. An owner must agree to enter into an initial one year lease with a voucher holder. An owner must agree that HUD’s Tenancy Addendum (PDF)
is an attachment to the lease, the owner must allow an inspector to come into the unit to perform a Housing Qualities Standard’s inspection (A Good Place to Live (PDF)
) and upon a passing inspection, execute a Housing Assistance Payments Contract with us. For more information, view our Owner/Landlord Briefing Packet (PDF)
What should I do as a landlord if a voucher holder is interested in renting my unit?
Perform background screening as you would for any other applicant. (We do not screen for tenancy.) When a voucher holder contacts you, we can only tell you that they are income eligible for the program. We are not giving a rental reference as to their expected behavior as tenants. We strongly advise that all landlords use all or some of the following when screening an applicant:
- Credit Check
- Criminal Check
- Past landlord references
- Home visits
Landlords are reminded that it is illegal to discriminate based on race, color, religion, ancestry, sex,
nation of birth, age, sexual orientation, lawful income, handicap, or familial status.
I have a rental unit and I would like to rent to a voucher holder. How can I make this happen?
We cannot approve specific rental units for voucher holders. We can take your name, phone number and information about your unit and pass it on to our voucher holders. They will contact you if they are interested in your unit. We cannot give a voucher to someone on our waiting list just because you have a unit available.
I have done my background checks and want to rent to your voucher holder. What happens next?
Our voucher holder should bring a “leasing packet” to you to complete with them. This packet contains the following forms:
- Request for Tenancy Approval
This form will tell us the address of the unit, the amount you hope to charge for rent, who pays for what utilities, what other rents are for non-voucher holders and certifies that you are not a relative of the voucher holder.
- Sample Lease and Starts Quality
We provide a sample lease for landlords who do not currently use a lease. The program requires landlords voucher holders to enter into a one year lease that on or after the unit has passed a Housing Standards inspection.
- Tenancy Addendum and Tenancy Addendum Sign Off
HUD requires that their Tenancy Addendum be an attachment to your lease. This can be done two ways. Your lease can include the line “HUD form 52641A Tenancy Addendum is an attachment to this lease OR both parties can sign our Tenancy Addendum Attachment.
- Smoke Detector Notice
Both parties sign this document stating that you know smoke detectors are required and that they are in place and are in working order.
- Lead Paint Questionnaire
Both parties execute this document or one similar if the rental property was built prior to 1978.
The Request for Tenancy Approval, along with a draft copy of your lease should be sent to the voucher holder’s Field Manager. The Field Manager will either approve or deny the rent for the voucher holder.
Why might my rent amount be denied?
Each voucher holder is given a maximum rent that they can afford. Each voucher holder’s maximum rent will be different. Congress declared that no voucher holder can pay more than 40% of their adjusted income toward their rent and utilities. Using the charts provided to us, if we determine that the rent to owner plus the utilities paid by the voucher holder are greater than 40% of the voucher holder’s adjusted income, we must deny the unit. We will not perform an inspection at this unit.
What if someone else pays the difference or the family pays the difference?
If a voucher holder pays an owner/landlord more than we allow or a landlord accepts side payments from another source, one, or both could be committing fraud. Fraud is grounds for termination from the program and could be prosecuted through HUD’s Inspector General’s office.
What is a Housing Quality Standards Inspection?
This is an inspection performed by a staff member. We use HUD’s guidelines for decent, safe and sanitary housing. The general inspection is best summed up by HUD’s booklet called A Good Place to Live (PDF)
. Once a unit has passed inspection, we will present a Housing Assistance Payments Contract to you.
Do we have to use your “housing lease” or may we use our own?
We prefer you use your own lease. Once we have approved the rent and the unit has passed inspection, you and your tenant may execute your own lease. We will need a copy of that lease.
May I collect a Security Deposit?
YES definitely! Owners are allowed to collect a security deposit equal to the amount paid by non-voucher holders. The voucher program does not have funding for Security Deposits/Escrows. Any damages done by the renter are the responsibility of the renter. This program does not pay for damages.
What is a Housing Assistance Payments Contract?
A Housing Assistance Payments Contract (HAP C) (PDF)
is a HUD contract between the property owner and the Housing Agency. The HAP C explains the owner’s responsibilities while using the program. It commits funds for a particular family, with specific people living in the household, at a particular address. The Tenancy Addendum (PDF)
is part C of the HAP Contract.
How do I get my rent money?
You will get your money in two payments. Your tenant will pay you their portion and we will pay you the subsidy amount.
When will I get my subsidy money?
You have the choice of having your subsidy money direct deposited into the bank account of your choice or we can mail the payment to you. Because of timing and finalizing documents, the first month’s subsidy is often sent a month late. You would receive 2 payments at one time.
We encourage everyone to participate in direct deposit subsidy payments. Our checks are mailed on the day that we have received confirmation that the HUD subsidy has been deposited in our account. Some months this could be as late as the 4th of the month. If we mail a check to a landlord, it can take 2 – 3 days for the check to arrive. Now that post offices are consolidating, mail may be even slower. If you utilize electronic funds transfers, the money is deposited in your account the day after we receive it.
You may not charge your tenant a late charge if our payment arrives late.
Does participation in the Housing Choice Voucher Program lessen my rights as a landlord/property owner?
No! If your tenant is in violation of their lease, you have every right to treat them as you would any other tenant, following Wisconsin State Statutes. You are required to send us a copy of any 5-day, 14 day, or 30-day termination notices. If you take the tenant to court for an eviction, you must also send us a copy of the Summons and Complaint.
Can I raise the rent when I am renting to a Voucher Holder?
Yes. Rent can be increased at the end of a leasing period as long as two (2) criteria are met. You must give the Housing Agency a sixty (60) day notice of any proposed rent increase AND the increase must be comparable with the rent charged to other tenants at your property or other comparable units in that area. Rents may never be raised during the first year of a lease.
What is VAWA?
VAWA stands for Violence Against Women Act. This Act protects women renters who are threatened by domestic violence, stalking, and date rape. A landlord may not terminate the tenancy of someone who is protected by this Act. Read more about the Violence Against Women Act (PDF)
My tenant has a boyfriend/girlfriend living with them. What should I do?
The subsidy for your tenant/our voucher holder is based on the income and composition of the voucher holder. Before any additional adult can live with our voucher holder, the voucher holder must get your written permission first. Then the additional adult must complete paperwork for us and pass our checks before we can approve the move in. Anyone allowing another adult to live with them is in violation of the program obligations and could lose their subsidy.
The Voucher holder renting from me hasn’t paid their rent or utility bill in months. What can I do?
You can enforce your lease. Any time a voucher holder gets behind in paying their portion of the rent or utilities, that voucher holder is in violation of their obligations to the program. This violation can lead to termination of their assistance. You have every right that Wisconsin State Statutes and the HAP C allow. You should serve the proper notices (giving us a copy of any notice served) and actively pursue payment. Our program does not provide additional payments if the tenant does not pay rent or damages your unit.
I have a vacant unit. How do I get this news out to your voucher holders?
You can get the word out by talking to the Field Manager who works in that jurisdiction. The Field Manager will take your name, phone number, and information about your vacancy. We will then get that information to our voucher holders who are out looking for that size and type of unit. We cannot give you the voucher holder’s name, but we can give your name to them.