How to Verify Household Composition Change When Member Moves Out
When a household member leaves, you need to take into consideration possible changes to the household's subsidy and the possibility of having to move the household to another appropriately sized apartment. For example, after a member moves out, the household could still be getting allowances that reduce its rent, but those allowances are attributable to the member who departed. Or after a household member moves out, the unit the family occupies may now be too big for the number of individuals who make up the “new” household. You need to be sure you are adhering to your site’s occupancy standards.
The HUD Handbook says households must report when any member moves out of the unit [HUD Handbook 4350.3, par. 7-10(A)(1)] and management must conduct an interim recertification [par. 7-11(A)(1)]. The HUD Handbook also says that the site owner may require the family to move to a unit of appropriate size when—and if—such a unit is available [HUD Handbook 4350.3, par. 3-23(H)(1)(a)(1)].
When a household notifies you of a change in the family’s composition, it’s important to verify that the member has left. We’ll give you a Model Form: Get Information About Member Moving Out Before Interim Recertification to help you get written verification of the move-out. We’ll also cover how a household’s rent or apartment may change as a result of the household member’s move-out.
Written Verification Before Interim Recertification
The HUD lease requires households to request an interim recertification whenever a member moves out. When you’re advised by a household that a member is moving out, you can obtain formal written proof of this household change by handing the head of the household a form to complete.
The form will help you capture the information you’ll need for the interim recertification and help protect you from potentially violating a household member’s due process rights. In one case, a New York court found that HUD may have violated a household member’s due process rights on her removal from the household composition. For most of her life, a resident’s daughter lived at a Section 8 site. In or prior to 2007, without her knowledge, her mother removed her from the household composition forms. She continued to live in the apartment. When her mother moved out and she sought to take over the lease, HUD denied the continuation of the Section 8 subsidy because she wasn’t a party to the lease.
At some time in or before 2007, and unbeknownst to the daughter, the mother verbally notified an individual in the management office of the building that her daughter was no longer residing in the apartment. The mother didn’t submit, and the owner didn’t ask for, a written request for the daughter’s removal or proof substantiating her removal from the household. The mother didn’t recall when she removed the daughter’s name from the household composition, or why, but admitted that she had been a drug addict at the time and her memory of that period is a “total blur.” The recertification forms submitted by the mother in 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, and 2011 didn't list the daughter as a member of the household composition, despite the fact that she continued to reside in the apartment. In each of those years, she was employed and her income should have been reported to properly calculate the Section 8 subsidy paid by HUD.
The mother testified that, after she removed her daughter from the household composition, she tried for three consecutive years to re-add her during the recertification process, but the owner refused. According to the mother, the owner informed her that family members removed from the composition could not be added later. The resident complained to property management but was unaware that she could or should contact HUD. The daughter was never added back to the household composition.
The daughter sued HUD and the owner to challenge the denial of her Section 8 subsidy, alleging violations of the due process clause, the constitutional safeguard against arbitrary denial of property by the government. According to the court, procedural safeguards such as obtaining a copy of the new lease or phone bill with the new address would have protected the daughter’s property interest in the Section 8 subsidy [Green v. HUD, June 2017].
Allowance and Subsidy Considerations
When a household reports that a member leaves, HUD expects you to re-assess allowances in these situations. Chances are that the move-out of a household member will affect the household’s rent. Many times, rent will decrease because you no longer are including the former member’s income in your rent calculation. In some cases, household rent will increase if the departed member qualified for allowances that no longer can be applied for the household. Any allowances the former member may have had due to age, disability, or medical expenses, for instance, can’t be applied to the household’s total rent calculation after the move-out.
For instance, if the person leaving the household is over 62 or disabled at a Section 8 property, will the household still qualify as an elderly household and be eligible to receive the $400 elderly household deduction and medical expense deductions? Unless a remaining member meets the program definition of elderly, the household may not.
Also, the $480 per-dependent allowance will be affected if the member who’s leaving is a minor, and child-care expenses will need to be adjusted if a child under age 13—for whom such expenses had been claimed—leaves the unit. Disability assistance expenses also will be adjusted if they applied to the person who moves out of the unit.
In addition, if a family’s assistance is being pro-rated because they have a mix of eligible and non-eligible members due to citizenship status, the pro-rate of assistance must be re-evaluated when members leave.
Unit Size Considerations
It’s important to note too that once the household’s size and composition has changed with a move-out, the household could be too small or not have the appropriate make-up to live in the unit it currently occupies.
Also keep in mind that if the household’s current unit is designed to accommodate a disability of the member who moved out, you’ll need to determine whether the household still needs such an accommodation. Some sites use a lease clause in which households agree to transfer to another unit in this type of a situation. If your lease doesn’t include such a clause, you might consider asking the household to transfer voluntarily if another household requires the specially designed unit.
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