Modify House Rules Before Requiring Residents to Wear Masks
Sites receiving project-based Section 8, Section 202, or Section 811 assistance are allowed to require tenants to wear face coverings while at the site and/or treat a tenant’s failure to wear a face covering as a lease violation—as long as modifications to the lease or house rules have been made properly.
House rules are the owner’s written and displayed policies outlining the residents’ responsibilities. Owners aren’t required to develop house rules, but if house rules are in place, an entire copy of the rules must be attached to the lease and maintained in the tenant’s file. House rules establish normal conduct for residents at the site and provide the rules for areas of mutual interest such as safety, noise, pest management, security, and trash disposal.
House rules pertaining to face coverings must be reasonable and consistent with state and local law and directives from public health officials. House rules in general must be consistent with the HUD model lease, any applicable use agreement, and in accordance with residents’ rights under federal, state, and local law.
The latest update to HUD’s COVID-19 Q&A says changes to house rules may be sent to the local Multifamily Office or Performance-Based Contract Administrator (PBCA) for review. While neither HUD nor the PBCA approves house rules, the Q&A states, they can advise if any rules violate HUD statutory, regulatory, or programmatic requirements.
Owners and agents must notify existing tenants, who have completed their initial lease terms, of modifications to the house rules 30 days prior to implementation. And tenants who haven’t yet completed their initial lease terms must be notified 60 days before the end of their lease terms [HUD Notice H 2012-22].
HUD says the failure to comply with a site’s face covering requirements may be treated as a lease violation only if the house rules are reasonable and consistent with state and local law and directives, and if the house rules are identified in the lease as an attachment to the lease agreement.