Follow HUD Guidelines for New Resident Orientation
When new residents move in to your site, you should take steps to assure that they understand their responsibilities as outlined in their lease and house rules. While HUD does not require you to do this, HUD strongly encourages you to—and it is a good site management practice.
HUD addresses this issue in the HUD Occupancy Handbook 4350.3, REV-1, Chapter 6. Paragraph 6-27 specifically encourages site managers to hold a new resident “briefing” prior to occupancy.
Holding an orientation briefing before move-in helps you ensure that new residents understand the terms of the lease. It also gives you an opportunity to relay important information about resident rights, lead-based paint disclosure, house rules, and conditions for terminating assistance and tenancy.
At the same time, information provided during this briefing gives new residents a clear understanding of the owner's responsibilities and better enables them to fulfill their own responsibilities. And the briefing gives the resident an opportunity to ask questions and discuss the information being presented.
Cover 13 HUD-Recommended Topics
If you choose to do an orientation briefing with new residents, HUD recommends covering the following topics:
Signatures. Explain that the lease must be signed by the head of household, his or her spouse, any individual listed as co-head, and all adult members of the household.
Term of the lease.
Annual/interim recertifications. Explain that between annual recertifications, reporting is required when the household composition changes or there is a change in employment status or income increases by $200 or more.
Rent. Explain that there could be a change in the rent amount if the household circumstances change.
Security deposit. Explain that amounts for damages, unpaid rent, or other unpaid charges permitted in the lease will be taken out of the security deposit.
Lease attachments, when applicable (for example, HUD-50059, HUD-50059-A, move-in inspection report, house rules, lead-based paint disclosure form, pet rules, and live-in aide addendum).
Other charges, such as late-rent charges or returned check fees.
Maintenance/damages. Explain the resident's responsibility for damages to the unit and common areas of the site.
Rights and responsibilities. At move-in and annually at recertification, owners are required to provide the head of the household with a copy of the Resident Rights and Responsibilities brochure reissued by HUD in the fall of 1998. (Note: This brochure is available in 10 languages through the HUD Multifamily Clearinghouse at 800-685-8470.)
Penalties for fraud. Explain that submitting false information can result in fines up to $10,000 and five years imprisonment.
Termination of assistance. Explain that the owner must give the resident written notice of its intent to terminate assistance, and must give the resident 10 days to meet and discuss termination.
Termination of tenancy. Explain that the owner must give the resident a 30-day advance written notice of termination of tenancy.
General rules. These can include items such as not subletting the unit; prohibited involvement in unlawful activities in the unit or at the site; not installing washers, dryers, or air conditioners without the owner's approval; abiding by noise restrictions and pet rules; obeying the house rules; permitting owner access to the unit for inspections and repairs; and prohibiting use of the unit for purposes deemed hazardous by the owner's insurer.
In addition, HUD offers the following guidelines for presenting these topics during orientation:
Conduct the briefing before the resident signs the lease to make sure that he has a good understanding of his obligations and responsibilities before move-in. Consider holding the briefing a day before the resident plans to sign the lease. This way, the resident will have time to think of questions regarding the lease before signing it.
Make sure that the presentation is clear. If at all possible, use visual and media aids, such as slides and charts, to conduct the briefing. Note that you may have to convey the information in languages other than English for people with limited English proficiency, in accordance with HUD guidance.
Consider giving the resident an information packet that contains handouts summarizing important topics covered during the briefing. If applicable, forms also can be given to the residents during the briefing.
Conduct Follow-Up Orientation
Despite the pre-lease-signing briefing, new residents can be overwhelmed by everything that's going on during the leasing and move-in process. You may want to reinforce their understanding of the rules by covering important topics with your new residents at an orientation that takes place after they are moved in. Here are some of the topics to cover at a follow-up orientation meeting:
Information on community. To help your new residents feel welcome, share information that begins to get them acquainted with their new neighborhood. This can include such information as the location of nearby shopping; schools; churches, synagogues, and other places of worship; as well as parks, YMCAs and YWCAs, and other recreational facilities. They also may want to know about readily available transportation. Local youth groups and city-run programs also may be of interest.
Lease and house rules. Ask residents if any questions have come up since they signed the lease, and review the rules that residents commonly break. Two that frequently fall into this category are restrictions on having pets and getting permission before letting anyone move into the unit. Let them know they can contact you at any time with questions.
Recertification requirements. Review with residents the annual recertification process and their responsibilities related to this process. Be sure to cover your role—that you will send them notices reminding them of applicable deadlines for recertification—and emphasize their need to comply. Remind them that their rent could increase if they fail to comply with necessary recertification steps. Recap the kinds of changes in their household that they need to advise you of promptly, such as when someone moves in or out of the household, if a household member loses or gets a job, or if household income changes.
Rent payment procedures. This is a subject you can't cover too often with residents. Remind them of the rent due date and any applicable grace period; any applicable fees if their rent is late; and what methods of payment you accept, including whether you accept cash.
Extra fees. Inform residents of the circumstances under which you charge fees for optional items or services. These may include the cost of extra keys, returned check fees, rental of your community room, or the cost to repair damage they cause to their unit or the common areas of your site.
Unit maintenance and inspections. Make sure new residents know that they share with you the responsibility to maintain their unit in good condition. Review your role first, explaining how you and your staff maintain the common areas, keeping them clean and repairing any damage. Advise new residents how you also are responsible for making needed repairs in their units and assuring that appliances and equipment are in optimum working order.
After you explain your role in providing maintenance, cover how residents need to keep their unit clean and the responsibility that they share with all residents not to litter or cause damage in any of the common areas. You also can take time to review operating instructions for the appliances and equipment in their unit. It's also a good idea to remind them of what types of appliances they are not permitted to bring in to their units, such as space heaters, and any decorating they can't do without your prior permission, such as hanging a planter from the ceiling.
At this point, you may also wish to encourage them to get involved in any energy conservation measures at your site. Explain how this benefits everyone by keeping costs down and possibly avoiding rent increases.
One more point to make on this topic is that their lease gives you the right to inspect their units from time to time. Tell them that HUD officials may also inspect their unit.
Encourage new residents to advise you or your maintenance staff promptly about anything that needs attention in their unit or in a common area. Cover your procedures for reporting maintenance problems and requesting repairs.
Safety and security. Assure your new residents that their safety and security are priorities for you. Review any specific safety and security features at your site and ask that they let you know immediately if they notice that any of these features are damaged or they see someone tampering with these features.
Also, ask for their help and support in keeping their home and building crime-free. Be clear with new residents about HUD's “one-strike” rule for resident screening and eviction, based on drug-related and other criminal activity. Remind residents that they are responsible for the activities of their relatives and visitors.
Procedures for lease violations. Review information in the lease that addresses lease violations. Let them know that they have certain rights with regard to violations—such as the right to meet with you within 10 days of getting any notice of termination of their assistance or tenancy.
Reasonable accommodations. Let your new residents know of your legal duty to make reasonable accommodations and/or modifications to individual units, to the common areas, or to your site's rules to help any household member with a disability use and enjoy your site. Be sure to explain the procedures you use to request, verify, and evaluate reasonable accommodations, and assure them that you take each request seriously.
Communicating with management. Encourage new residents to contact you or other designated members of your staff with any problems that arise. If you have specific grievance procedures for residents who have a complaint, be sure to make your new residents aware of these procedures.
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