Gather Key Information from Site Applicants

When applicants apply to your assisted site, you must give them a written application to fill out, which asks for certain required eligibility and income information. If you don’t get this information, you could end up admitting an ineligible or inappropriate household. And that could mean trouble with HUD, including HUD’s refusal to pay the assistance on the household’s unit. Or you could improperly reject an eligible household and risk discrimination claims and more trouble with HUD.

When applicants apply to your assisted site, you must give them a written application to fill out, which asks for certain required eligibility and income information. If you don’t get this information, you could end up admitting an ineligible or inappropriate household. And that could mean trouble with HUD, including HUD’s refusal to pay the assistance on the household’s unit. Or you could improperly reject an eligible household and risk discrimination claims and more trouble with HUD.

                We’ll tell you what information HUD requires you to ask for in your application. And we’ll give you a Model Form: Keep Record of Application Decision Process, which you can incorporate in your application form, so you’ll have a record showing that you followed HUD’s rules when deciding whether to approve or reject each household’s application.

Who Completes Application

HUD says that “anyone who wishes to be admitted to an assisted [site] or placed on a [site’s] waiting list” must complete an application [HUD Handbook 4350.3, par. 4-14(a)(1)]. In addition to giving applicants the opportunity to complete applications at the site, owners may also send out and receive applications by mail. And HUD requires owners to accommodate persons with disabilities who, as a result of their disabilities, cannot utilize the owner’s preferred application process by providing alternative methods of taking applications [HUD Handbook 4350.3, par. 4-14(a)(1)].

                To save on paperwork, it’s probably best to have the household head fill out the application, giving all the information HUD requires. Then make sure that each adult household member signs the application and certifies to its accuracy.

Cover Eight Items in Application

Although HUD doesn’t prescribe a specific application format, the HUD Handbook spells out the information assisted sites must ask for in their applications. Here’s a checklist of the eight items HUD says your application must cover:

                [ ] Household head contact information. Get the name, current address, and phone number of the proposed household head [HUD Handbook 4350.3, par. 4-14(B)(2)].

                [ ] Household characteristics. Ask for the full name of each person who will be occupying the unit as a household member, along with the person’s sex, age, disability status (only where necessary to establish eligibility) of each household member, need for an accessible unit, and race/ethnicity of the head of household [HUD Handbook 4350.3, par. 4-14(B)(1)].

                [ ] Marketing information. HUD requires you to ask each applicant household how it heard about the site so you can assess the effectiveness of your marketing efforts [HUD Handbook 4350.3, par. 4-14(B)(6)].

                As part of the application, the applicant can also provide self-certification of their race and ethnicity for data collection by using form HUD-27061-H. Completing this form is optional, and there’s no penalty for not completing it. Owners should not complete the form on behalf of the applicant. When the applicant chooses not to self-certify race or ethnicity, a notation that the applicant chose not to provide the race and ethnicity certification should be placed in the file [HUD Handbook 4350.3, par. 4-14(A)(3)].

                HUD wants this information for statistical purposes, program administrative reporting, or, presumably, for civil rights compliance reporting, to determine how well your marketing efforts comply with your affirmative fair housing marketing plan’s requirements for reaching certain target households.

                [ ] Preference eligibility information (if applicable). If your site has adopted any optional or mandatory preferences, ask the applicant household whether it’s eligible for the preference(s) [HUD Handbook 4350.3, par. 4-14(B)(3)]. For example, you might have adopted one of HUD’s optional preferences, such as the working family preference or elderly preference. Or HUD or your state or locality might require you to give preference to certain applicants—for example, you might be a Section 236 site that HUD requires to give preference to military personnel.

                [ ] Income and asset information. HUD requires that you ask the applicant household for the sources and estimate of its anticipated annual income and assets for the next 12 months [HUD Handbook 4350.3, par. 4-14(B)(4)].

                > Income information. Ask the applicant household to list all employment information for all proposed household members for the past 12 months, including employer names and contact information, position, dates of employment, and salary.

                To get information on other types of income, list all items that HUD says to include as income listed in Exhibit 5-1 of the Handbook. Ask the applicant household to check “yes” if any proposed household member gets that particular type of income, and “no” if none do. If the applicant household checks “yes,” ask which proposed household member gets the income and how much.

                > Asset information. To get information on household assets, list all items that HUD lists in Exhibit 5-2 of the Handbook. Ask the applicant household to check “yes” if any proposed member owns that type of asset and “no” if none of the proposed members do. And if the household checks “yes,” ask for the current value or balance of the asset and for information to verify the asset.

                Also be sure to ask whether any proposed household member has disposed of any assets of the types listed at less than fair market value during the past two years [HUD Handbook 4350.3, 5-7 (G)(8)]. If so, ask the applicant household to explain.

                [ ] Citizenship and immigration status. Ask the applicant household for citizenship and immigration status information as required by HUD’s noncitizen rule. You can use a citizenship declaration [HUD Handbook 4350. 3, Exhibit 3-5] and verification consent forms [HUD Handbook 4350. 3, Exhibit 3-6].

                You don’t have to comply with this rule if you own or manage a Section 221(d)(3) BMIR (without Section 8 or any other assistance), Section 202 (without Section 8), Section 202 PAC, Section 202 PRAC, or Section 811 PRAC site that has no other subsidy.

                [ ] Screening information. HUD requires you to ask the applicant household for the information you need to screen proposed members according to the screening criteria spelled out in your resident selection plan [HUD Handbook 4350.3, par. 4-14(B)(7)]. As you may know, HUD requires you to screen applicants for certain types of drug-related and criminal history, including sex offender history [HUD Handbook 4350.3, par. 4-14(B)(7)]. But it’s up to you to come up with other screening criteria—such as non-mandatory criminal screening criteria and credit and rental history—and add them to your resident selection plan.

                The Handbook lists criteria you must and/or should consider using—and criteria you can’t use [Handbook 4350.3, pars. 4-7 and 4-8]. Whatever screening criteria you’ve adopted and added to your resident selection plan, ask about the criteria in your application. For example, if you perform rental history checks, ask for prior addresses, current and prior landlord information, prior evictions or nonpayment history, particularly at other federally assisted housing sites.

                [ ] Applicant certification and consent. Make sure each adult household member signs the application and certifies that the information about the proposed household is complete and accurate. And be sure to warn applicants of the penalties for false statements [HUD Handbook 4350.3, par. 4-14(A)(2)].

                HUD also requires you to get each adult household member’s consent to verify the information and to perform background and other screening checks, and to include language about HUD’s privacy and disclosure requirements. Here’s model language you may include in your application which covers certification, consent, and privacy requirements.

Model Language

I understand that the above information is required to determine my eligibility for residency. I certify that all information and answers to the above questions are true and complete to the best of my knowledge. I understand that making false statements about the information in this form is grounds for rejection or termination of my lease. I authorize ABC Apartments to verify the above information and consent to the release of the necessary information to determine my eligibility.

I hereby authorize any person, credit agency, or law enforcement agencies to release information to the owner, managing agent, or other agent contracted by the owner to conduct criminal, credit, or rental history checks.

Title 18, Section 1001 of the U.S. Code states that a person is guilty of a felony for knowingly and willingly making false or fraudulent statements to any department of the United States Government. HUD and any owner (or any employee of HUD or the owner) may be subject to penalties for unauthorized disclosures or improper use of information collected based on the consent form. Use of the information collected based on this verification form is restricted to the purposes cited above. Any person who knowingly or willingly requests, obtains, or discloses any information under false pretenses concerning an applicant or participant may be subject to a misdemeanor and fined not more than $5,000. Any applicant or participant affected by negligent disclosure of information may bring civil action for damages, and seek other relief, as may be appropriate, against the officer or employee of HUD or the owner responsible for the unauthorized disclosure or improper use. Penalty provisions for misusing the Social Security numbers are contained in the Social Security Act at 208(a)(6), (7), and (8). Violation of these provisions are cited as violations of 42 U.S.C. 408(a)(6), (7), and (8).

Document Decision on Application

To show HUD you’ve processed and decided the application according to Handbook rules, add a form at the end of your application to keep a record of key steps you’ve taken to reach a decision on whether to approve or disapprove the application. Your form, like the one which is based on a form Volunteers of America uses on its applications, should include:

                Screening process. Check off HUD-required and optional screening procedures—such as criminal background checks, credit checks, and rental history checks—as you complete them.

                Household documents submitted. HUD requires you to get copies of documents to support the applicant’s eligibility and income claims, and to complete your screening process. Use the form to keep track of which documents are missing, and to check off when the applicant has submitted the documents you require.

                Application decision. Check off whether you’ve approved or disapproved the application, and date and sign this part of the form. Handbook 4350.3, paragraph 4-9(B), lists the permissible reasons for rejecting an applicant household. Be sure to specify all the reasons you reject an application, to show that you’ve rejected it for one of HUD’s permissible reasons.

                Notice to applicant. Record the date you sent the applicant household written notice of your decision. HUD requires you to promptly notify applicants in writing and, if you reject their applications, to specify the reasons you did so [HUD Handbook 4350.3, par. 4-9 (A)(2)]. Your letter must also tell the household that it has a right to respond to the owner in writing or request a meeting within 14 days to dispute the rejection [HUD Handbook 4350.3, par. 4-9(C)(2)]. Attach a copy of the notification letter to the application.

                Appeal/meeting requested. If the applicant household challenges its rejection in writing or requests a meeting with you to dispute the rejection, indicate this and attach a copy of the household’s letter.

                14-day meeting held. If you conducted a 14-day meeting with the applicant household, note this on the form and give the date you held the meeting. Any meeting with the applicant to discuss the applicant’s rejection must be conducted by a member of the owner’s staff who was not involved in the initial decision to deny admission or assistance.

                Appeal status and outcome. Record the outcome of your meeting with the applicant household—that is, whether you reconsidered and approved its application or stayed with your original disapproval. HUD requires you to send a final decision letter within five business days of the meeting, so be sure to note the date you sent the applicant household a notice and attach a copy of your letter [HUD Handbook 4350.3, par. 4-9(D)(2)].

See The Model Tools For This Article

Keep Record of Application Decision Process