Save Time by Knowing When to Deal Directly with HAP Contract Administrator
Your site’s Section 8 Housing Assistance Payments (HAP) contract may be administered by a contract administrator other than your HUD field office. In these cases, where HUD isn’t the contract administrator, the HUD field office is responsible for monitoring the contract administrator to measure its performance and compliance [HUD Handbook 4350.5, par. 1-1]. For instance, a state housing agency such as a local housing authority or a state finance agency may administer your contract. If so, your contract administrator and not your HUD field office handles certain site-related issues.
It’s important to know when to send information or requests directly to your contract administrator instead of your HUD field office. Otherwise, you can waste a lot of time and may even end up missing important deadlines and opportunities. For instance, if you go to your HUD field office with a special claim for damages, instead of directly to your contract administrator, as HUD says you’re supposed to do, your HUD field office will have to forward your request to your contract administrator if it doesn’t just send it back to you to forward on yourself—or it gets lost. This can delay or prevent the processing of your request and may leave you stuck having to pay for any unit repairs yourself. And some requests are even more time sensitive. If you make a similar mistake with a rent increase request, you could end up missing the deadline and perhaps even lose out on the right to the rent increase altogether.
To help you avoid these problems, we’ll tell you which matters your contract administrator should handle, so you’ll know when to deal with it directly.
Duties of Contract Administrator
Here are the matters your contract administrator should handle. When you have a question or request regarding one of these matters, save time by going directly to your contract administrator and not your HUD field office:
- Conducting annual management and occupancy reviews;
- Processing rent increases;
- Processing HAP contract terminations, renewals, and opt-outs, and making necessary referrals to appropriate HUD offices;
- Reviewing and paying monthly HAP vouchers;
- Responding to discrepancies on monthly HAP vouchers;
- Processing special claims for vacancy and unit damages;
- Determining utility allowance amounts and processing requests to adjust utility allowances;
- Monitoring and follow-up on physical inspection results, including “exigent” health and safety violations;
- Processing abatement or reduction of housing assistance payments;
- Negotiating management improvement operating plans;
- Responding to requests for information related to the payment of a specific voucher; and
- Handling resident complaints.
Owners should give residents their contract administrator’s name and contact information and tell them they can contact the administrator with any complaints. If a resident complains of a life-threatening health and safety violation, your contract administrator is supposed to respond within one hour; for other health and safety complaints, within three days. For all other complaints, the contract administrator will attempt to resolve the complaint by working with the resident and the owner.
Some Overlap Exists
Although both your contract administrator and your HUD field office may be involved in processing certain matters, such as rent increases and contract renewals/opt-outs, don’t assume that means you can go to either with your request.
For instance, to request a budget-based rent increase of more than 5 percent, you still must submit the request to your contract administrator. But then the contract administrator must send the request to your HUD field office to get its approval for the increase. Often the HUD field office will want more information from the owner and will usually ask the contract administrator to get this information. With most rent increase or contract renewal issues, though, you should still go to your contract administrator first. It will then work with the HUD field office to process the request.
Sometimes you have to make separate requests to your contract administrator and to your HUD field office. For instance, suppose you own or manage a mixed site, such as one where some of the units are covered by a HAP contract and get OCAF rent increases, while others are Section 236 units that get budget-based rent increases. In this case, you must request the budget-based rent increase from your HUD field office and request the OCAF rent increase from your contract administrator. But if you get budget-based rent increases on all the units, including the Section 8 units, your contract administrator will process your request for all the units. If you have any questions about whether a particular matter gets handled by your contract administrator or your HUD field office, be sure to ask your contract administrator before you submit the request to the wrong person.
The following are examples of overlapping areas of responsibilities between HUD and performance-based Section 8 contract administrators:
- Processing contract opt-outs;
- Approving management improvement and operating (MIO) plans for physical inspections with scores below 45;
- Rent increases over 5 percent;
- Coordinating activities within various branches of HUD;
- Rent increases—Section 236 vs. Section 8;
- Management reviews that indicate the need for enforcement activities;
- Management reviews with a rating of below average or unsatisfactory;
- Reviewing fair housing and equal opportunity checklist;
- Processing appeals;
- Freedom of Information Act and congressional inquiries;
- Enforcement/compliance activity;
- Funding reservations for contract renewals;
- Reserve for replacement deposits; and
- Processing Office of Multifamily Housing Assistance Restructuring (OHMAR) Mark to Market contract renewals.