Record Retention Requirements to Keep in Mind for Spring Cleaning
As we enter spring, the warm weather and rainy days may motivate you to conduct a thorough spring cleaning of your office files. But before you clean out your file cabinets or declutter your computer files, it’s important to review HUD’s record retention rules first.
Once the retention period has expired for all of the following files and documents, HUD requires owners to dispose of the data in a manner that will prevent any unauthorized access to personal information. In HUD Handbook 4350.3, HUD uses the words “burn, pulverize, shred, etc.” to describe the way in which files and records are to be disposed to prevent any unauthorized access to personal information.
Here are some reminders about HUD’s record retention requirements.
Applicant files must be maintained from the time the application is accepted, for the entire time an applicant is on the waiting list, and for three years after the applicant is removed from the waiting list. According HUD Handbook 4350.3, par. 4-22:
- The current application must be retained as long as the applicant is active on the waiting list.
- Once the applicant is removed from the waitlist, then the application, Supplement to Application (HUD 92006), initial rejection notice, applicant reply, copy of the owner’s final response, and all documentation supporting the reason for removal must be retained for three years.
- When an applicant moves in and begins to receive assistance, the application and form HUD-92006 the applicant completed must be maintained in the tenant file for the duration of the tenancy and for three years after the tenant leaves the site.
Resident files (all documentation) must be maintained for the term of tenancy and for three years after tenancy ends for any reason. The resident’s files should be available for review by the tenant upon request or by a third party who provides signed authorization for access from the tenant.
According to HUD Handbook 4350.3, par. 5-23, at a minimum, owners must keep the following documentation in the resident file:
- All original, signed HUD 9887s and 9887-As;
- A copy of signed consent forms;
- A copy of the EIV Income Report, regardless of whether or not any income is reported for the household, along with the HUD-50059 and any other documentation obtained supporting income and rent determinations; and
- Any third-party verifications received from third-party sources.
Additional record-keeping requirements for Forms HUD-50059, HUD-50059-A, and vouchers are in HUD’s Monthly Activity Transmission (MAT) guide. Owners must keep the signed HUD-50059(s) and copies of the HUD-50059-A(s) for tenants from the time of move-in to move-out and for a minimum of three years thereafter. Owners may move older records off-site when files get large, but, upon request, the files must be made available for review by HUD or the Contract Administrator [HUD MAT Guide, par. 7-7].
The MAT guide also states that owners must keep a signed paper copy of the subsidy vouchers for at least five years after HUD or Contract Administrator action. And owners must dispose of all files and records in a manner that will prevent any unauthorized access to personal information [HUD MAT Guide, par. 7-7].
The Income Report, Summary Report showing Identity Verification Status as “Verified,” and the Income Discrepancy Report along with any supporting documentation must be retained in the resident file for the term of tenancy plus three years. With EIV reports According to HUD Handbook 4350.3, par. 9-14:
- Any tenant-provided documentation to supplement the Social Security Administration or National Database of New Hires data must be retained in the resident file for the term of tenancy plus three years.
- Results of the Existing Tenant Search must be retained with the application. If the applicant was not admitted, it must be retained with the application for three years. If the applicant was admitted, it must be retained in the resident file for the term of tenancy plus three years.
- The master file containing the New Hires Report, Identity Verification Reports, Multiple Subsidy Report, and Deceased Tenant Report must be retained for three years.
It’s important to note that with regard to the disclosure of EIV data, the Federal Privacy Act prohibits disclosing an individual’s information to another person without the written consent of that individual. As such, the EIV data of an adult household member may not be shared (or a copy provided or displayed) with another adult household member or to a person assisting the tenant with the recertification process, unless the individual has provided written consent to disclose such information.
You are not, however, prohibited from discussing with the head of household and showing the head of household how the household’s income and rent were determined based on the total income reported and verified.
With the written consent of the tenant, EIV data may be shared with persons assisting the tenant with the recertification process. Parties to whom the tenant can provide written consent include:
- Service coordinators (only if they are present at and assisting the tenant with the recertification process);
- Individuals assisting an elderly individual or a person with a disability;
- Powers of attorney; and
- Other family members