Landlord FAQ

What is the Section 8 program?

The Section 8 Program is a form of federal rent subsidy which assists participating low-income households with monthly rental payments to ensure that the resident has a safe, decent and sanitary place to live. Northampton Housing Authority administers funds received from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and distributes them in the form of Section 8 Housing Choice Vouchers to eligible families and individuals.

Currently, the Section 8 Program administers 856 Housing Choice Vouchers. A Voucher allows participating households (tenants) to rent housing that meet their needs. The tenant pays thirty (30%) percent of their income for rent directly to the landlord. Northampton Housing Authority pays the landlord the difference between the Contract Rent and the tenant’s portion.

icon Read more about the Housing Choice Voucher Program

How does the subsidy work?

Northampton Housing Authority reviews the eligibility of the tenant based on their income and family composition. Northampton Housing Authority does not pre-screen or select tenants for the rental unit. The landlord is responsible for screening tenants and must follow federal, State and local Equal Opportunity Laws.

The tenant with a Voucher has from 60 – 120 days to find suitable housing. The dwelling unit they choose will have to pass an inspection in accordance with the Housing Quality Standards (HQS) set forth in HUD guidelines.

You've selected a tenant, what's next?

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, we 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 you must provide. The language must be consistent with and agree with HUD rules, regulations and guidelines, and you sign a concurrent one-year Contract with Northampton Housing Authority.

icon Read “How To Become A Landlord” to learn more

The initial inspection

The unit inspections are conducted by Northampton Housing Authority Inspectors and must be approved before the subsidy can begin. All participating units must be documented as being decent, safe, sanitary and free of any lead-based paint in the unit.
If the unit does not pass inspection, we will allow up to thirty (30) days for correction of the repair items. A re-check inspection will be necessary to confirm that the corrections have been made. Tenants have only 60 days to find housing before they risk losing their Housing Choice Voucher, so repairs must be made in a timely manner (an extension of the tenant’s 60 days is only available at their written request).

icon Read our page on landlord inspections to learn more

Initial contract rent

The initial Contract Rent must be “rent reasonable” and the tenant’s total payment cannot exceed more than 40% of their monthly adjusted income for the initial term of the contract.

Rent reasonable means that the total rent cannot be more than rent for similar units in the same general area or neighborhood. Criteria used to determine the rent include:

  • Utility inclusions to be paid by the owner, inclusion of appliances
  • The overall unit condition, age and square footage
  • Any improvements made to the unit, and
  • A comparison of similar unassisted rental units within that general area


Please note that subsidized rents may not be more than non-subsidized rents for similar units.

Security deposits

You are encouraged to collect a security deposit. However, Northampton Housing Authority will prohibit security deposits that are in excess of private market practice or in excess of amounts you charge to unassisted tenants. Security deposits must be held in compliance with State and local laws regarding interest payments and disposition of deposits. It is the tenant’s responsibility to pay the full security deposit.

Effective date of lease

The effective date of the Lease and Contract will be determined after all Housing Quality Standards violations have been corrected and the tenant has terminated any previous Contract or Lease.

If the Tenant is subsidized at another unit in an existing Lease and Contract, the tenant must return the keys to their previous unit to establish a termination date for that Lease and Contract.

If the tenant takes possession of your unit before the authorized start date, the tenant will be responsible for the full market rent until the effective date of the new Lease.

Annual inspections

Northampton Housing Authority will conduct an annual inspection prior to the end of the Lease term to ensure the unit continues to meet Housing Quality Standards (HQS). You and your tenant will receive a letter from Northampton Housing Authority if the unit does not pass inspection. The letter will list the items requiring repair and will give you a date by which the repairs must be completed.

If the violations are not corrected within the time limit given, Northampton Housing Authority will abate the Housing Assistance Payment.

Northampton Housing Authority will not abate the rent if all of the Housing Quality Standards violations are tenant caused. However, Northampton Housing Authority may terminate the tenant’s assistance if the tenant caused HQS violations are not corrected. A 30-day notice will be provided by Northampton Housing Authority to you and the tenant for any termination.

Rent increases

You may request an annual rent increase. Rent increases are not automatic and must be requested in writing with documentation justifying the increase. The annual inspection must be current with no outstanding HQS violations. These are the requirements for rent increases:

A request for a rent increase must be reasonable and be approved by Northampton Housing Authority. A written 60-day notice of the increase must be served to the family and a copy to Northampton Housing Authority.

When the rent increase has been approved, Northampton Housing Authority will send you and the tenant a notice of change in rent with the effective date.

Tenant responsibilities

The Lease is the binding agreement between you and the tenant which states the responsibilities of both parties, including the amount of the tenant rent, utility responsibility and the security deposit.

By signing the Lease, the tenant is agreeing to abide by all of its terms which include paying rent on time. Depending on the Lease, the tenant may be responsible for paying certain utilities. The tenant is expected to pay their portion of the rent by the first of each month as stated in the Lease.

The tenant family is also responsible for the cost of repairs for damage caused either by them, a family member or a guest. The tenant is responsible for a breach of Housing Quality Standards caused by:

  • Failure to pay for utilities they are responsible for under the Lease
  • Failure to provide and maintain the stove or refrigerator if provided by the tenant under the Lease
  • Any family or guest damaging the unit or premises beyond normal wear and tear


The Family’s assistance may be terminated if they fail to correct HQS deficiencies they have caused.

The tenant family must also comply with certain “Family Obligations” with Northampton Housing Authority in order to remain eligible for rental assistance. The obligations include, but are not limited to, providing current information to Northampton Housing Authority on their family composition including any changes, and reporting all amounts and sources of income and assets.

In addition, the tenant must provide at least reimbursement for tenant-caused damages. We advise the tenant to call their Section 8 worker if any additional money is requested.

It is your responsibility to enforce your lease. Northampton Housing Authority cannot do this for you. You have the right to serve a notice for serious violations of the Lease. If eviction is necessary, you must proceed according to state law. A copy of all notices to the tenant must also be sent to Northampton Housing Authority.

What you can expect from Northampton Housing Authority

Northampton Housing Authority screen tenants for program eligibility based on income and family composition only. We will brief the tenant on their obligations under the program including their obligations to Northampton Housing Authority and their responsibility to comply with their lease.

Northampton Housing Authority’s portion of the rent will be mailed to you during the first week of each month. Northampton Housing Authority is not responsible for collection of the tenant’s portion of the rent or management of the property. This is your responsibility.

Northampton Housing Authority no longer places rental units on a list. The Owner may list their units with