Frequently Asked Questions About the Housing Choice Voucher Program


The Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) Program is a federally funded, rental subsidy program that assists its participants with their monthly rental payments. This Program ensures that its participants have a safe, decent and sanitary place to live. The Housing Authority of the City of Charleston (CHA) administers funds received from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and distributes them in the form of Housing Choice Vouchers to eligible families and individuals. A Voucher allows participating households (tenants) to rent housing that meets their needs. The tenant pays a portion of the rent directly to the landlord. The HCV Office pays the landlord the difference between the tenant’s portion of the rent and the total rental amount.

Here are answers to frequently asked questions about the Program:

1. How do I rent my unit(s) to HCV participants?

If you are interested in making your unit(s) available to tenants with Housing Choice vouchers, go to the website SOCIALSERVE.COM to register your unit. When you accept an applicant with a voucher, fill out the landlord packet, and turn it into our office. Calculations will be made to assure the unit is affordable and meets comparability. If it does, an inspection is scheduled, and when your unit passes the Housing Quality Standards (HQS) inspection, you are in the Program.

2. What happens once I’ve selected a tenant?

Once you have selected a tenant, you must complete their Request for Tenancy Approval (RFTA) form and submit it to our Office. When the RFTA has been received, our Staff will check for affordability and comparability, and if your rents are affordable and comparable, will call you to schedule an inspection of the property. If the unit passes inspection and the rent is approved, you and the tenant sign a Lease (provided by you), and you sign a separate Housing Assistance Payments (HAP) Contract with CHA.

If the unit does not pass inspection, we will allow up to ten (10) working days for correction of the repair items. A re-inspection will be necessary to confirm that the corrections have been made. Tenants have only sixty (60) days to find housing before they risk losing their Voucher, so repairs must be made in a timely manner. To avoid the possibility of a participant’s Voucher expiring before the leasing process can be completed, the unit should be in in move-in condition prior to you submitting the RFTA.

3. How much rent may I ask for?

Please refer to the Payment Standards for Vouchers below:


 Bedroom Size Payment Standard
 1 $1,063.00
 2 $1,229.00
 3 $1,626.00


 Bedroom Size Payment Standard
 1 $1,138.00
 2 $1,296.00
 3 $1,688.00
 5$2, 545.00

Please note that the payment standard includes all utilities. Note also that this is a baseline figure. The estimated utility costs of the unit, as well as the tenant’s income, also play a part in what amount of rent can be approved. A comparability test is also done at the time of our housing inspection to insure that the amount of rent being requested is not excessive when compared to other similar units in that general area.

4. How is the unit size (number of bedrooms) determined?

The HCV Office will assign one bedroom for every two persons within the household. Persons of the opposite sex (other than spouses and children under age 8) will be allocated separate bedrooms.

5. How much of the rent is paid by the tenant?

That depends on a number of factors including the tenant’s income, the deductions to which they are entitled, the number of people in their household (which determines their voucher size), the applicable payment standard and the utility allowance for the unit.. Generally speaking, they will pay between 30% and 40% of their monthly-adjusted income for rent.

6. If the HCV Office cannot approve the rent amount that I request, can the tenant pay the difference?

No. the tenant is forbidden from paying more than the HCV staff states they should pay.

7. When will I get paid?

Once the unit passes inspection and the tenant moves in, we will generate a HAP Contract and will mail it to you for your signature. Upon receipt of the signed HAP contract and lease (which you provide and must have the tenant to sign), payment will be processed. After the initial payment, future payments will be issued on the 1st of every month.

8. What are the responsibilities of the tenant?

Like any tenant, HCV participants have responsibilities, all of which should be spelled out in the lease, including but not limited to the timely payment of their portion of the rent, as well as those utilities for which they are responsible. To participate in the HCV Program, tenants must use the unit as their principal residence. They cannot sublease the unit or allow unauthorized persons to reside with them.

The tenant also has responsibilities to the Housing Authority, which are listed on their Housing Choice Voucher, which states:

The tenant MUST:

  • Promptly notify The HCV Office in writing when the tenant is away from the unit for an extended period of time;
  • Notify both The HCV Office and the landlord in writing before moving out of the unit or terminating the lease;
  • Allow The HCV Office to inspect the unit at reasonable times and after reasonable notice;
  • Request The HCV Office to add any family member as an occupant of the unit;
  • Give The HCV Office a copy of any landlord-issued eviction notice.

Also, the participating household (including all family members) MUST NOT:

  • Own or have any interest in the unit;
  • Commit any serious or repeated violation of the lease;
  • Commit fraud, bribery or any other corrupt or criminal act in connection with the Program:
  • Participate in illegal drug or criminal activity;
  • Damage the unit or premises (other than ordinary wear and tear) or permit any guest(s) to damage the unit or premises;



9. What are my responsibilities as a landlord in the HCV Program?

You have obligations to CHA, spelled out in the HAP Contract, and to the tenant, which should be included in the lease. Your primary responsibility to the tenant and HCV Office is to maintain the unit and premises in accordance with Housing Quality Standards.

You will also need to:

  • Screen the families to determine if they will be good renters;
  • Comply with fair housing laws by not discriminating;
  • Assure that the unit is leased only to those family members listed on the lease;
  • Assure that the total rent for the HCV unit does not exceed rents charged for similar, unassisted units in the general area;.
  • Assure that the family does not own or have any interest in the unit;
  • Enforce the tenant obligations listed on the lease, especially those involving illegal drug use and violent criminal activity;
  • Decide what utilities will be the tenant’s responsibility and what utilities will be included in the rent;
  • Collect the rent due by the tenant.

You cannot:

  • Reside in the unit;
  • In most cases, be related to the tenant or their family. Contact us for permissible exceptions;
  • Receive any other form of payment for the unit while under contract;
  • Commit fraud, bribery, drug-trafficking or any other crime in connection with a federal housing assistance program;


10. After the first twelve (12) month lease, can I raise the contract rent?

If we have adequate funding, we will consider your request for an increase. The process is as follows:

  • Provide a 60-day written notice to the resident at the time of their annual reexamination, with a copy to The HCV Office, indicating the amount of the requested increase and any improvements made to the unit;
  • The HCV Office must determine if the rent is reasonable. Landlords of larger apartment complexes must provide the HCV Office with the addresses and rents of no less than three recently-rented, comparable, non-subsidized units in the complex;
  • If determined reasonable, the HCV staff will recalculate what the participant’s portion of the rent would be and notify both the landlord and participant in writing of the new amount.
  • Unless otherwise requested by the landlord, The HCV Office will process this new change as a month-to-month relationship.

If you choose not to renew the lease, you must advise the tenant and the HCV Office of your intentions by way of a written notice no less than thirty (30) days prior to the expiration of the lease.

11. Can I terminate the tenancy of a HCV Program participant?

Yes, you have the same rights with HCV participants that you have with any other tenants. You can evict a tenant who violates the terms of the lease. However, any eviction notice must be issued in accordance with the lease, as well as State and local law. During the first year of the lease, you must have cause to terminate the lease. Following the first year, if a new lease is not signed, cause is not necessary. You must provide a copy of any eviction notice to the HCV Office at the same time you notify the tenant.

12. What if the tenant damages my unit?

You should collect a security deposit prior to the tenant taking occupancy. You may not charge a HCV tenant more of a deposit than you would charge a non-HCV tenant. If the cost to repair any damages exceeds the amount of the security deposit, you would need to obtain a court order for the remaining amount.


13. How do I change my address or change ownership of the unit in which a Housing Choice Voucher Family resides?

Complete both a Change of Ownership and W-9 form and submit both to The HCV Office.

14. What is the HQS Inspector looking for during inspections?

Please refer to the Housing Quality Standards Self-Inspection Checklist: HQS Inspection Checklist