Use Checklist to Review Resident Files for Completeness
Sloppy resident files are a headache you can do without during your annual audit or management and occupancy review. Auditors routinely review resident files to see how well your company complies with HUD rules. If a file is missing important documents, it may act as a signal to an auditor that your staff may be cutting corners on rule compliance. But often a document is simply missing because your staff doesn’t know which documents belong in the resident files.
Therefore, to keep resident files in perfect order and satisfy your auditors, prepare the files for the annual audit using a checklist that itemizes what HUD requires. You can distribute copies of the checklist to your staff to help your audit go smoothly. And tell staff members to use one copy for each resident file. Have them check off each item that’s inside the file.
What if a document is missing? It may not be applicable to the household. If it’s applicable, it may simply have been misplaced and staffers will need to track it down. Once they find the missing document, they should put it in the file and check off the item on the checklist.
But a missing document may also mean that staffers aren’t getting all the documents HUD requires. It may indicate that you need to do further staff training to improve compliance. The following is a list of HUD-suggested forms to complete at move-in and recertification. These forms provide the basis of the checklist.
Documents to Be Signed at Recertification
HUD 9887/A (Notice and Consent for the Release of Information). Each adult member must sign the form regardless of whether he or she has income. Each family member who is at least 18 years of age and the head, spouse, or co-head, regardless of age, must sign this form at move-in and initial at each annual recertification. The form must also be signed when a new adult member joins the household. The form is valid for 15 months from the date of signature. The consent allows HUD or a public housing agency to verify information with the Internal Revenue Service, the Social Security Administration, and with state agencies that maintain wage and unemployment claim information. Owners must keep the original signed form in the resident’s file and provide a copy to the family.
“How Your Rent Is Determined” brochure. At move-in and at each annual recertification, the owner must provide the resident with a copy of the HUD fact sheet describing how the resident’s rent is determined. This brochure must be provided to the resident/applicant and an acknowledgement of receiving the document must be signed and retained in the resident file.
“Resident Rights and Responsibilities” brochure. Owners must provide applicants and residents with a copy of the Resident Rights and Responsibilities brochure at move-in and annually at recertification. In addition, an acknowledgement of receiving the document must be signed and retained in the resident file.
Owner-created verification forms. Owners must create verification forms for specific verification needs and must include the language required by HUD. For example, owner-created third-party verification forms are necessary to verify assets, medical expenses, and even income if applicable. Owners must retain a copy of the verification form and provide a copy to the applicant or resident upon request.
HUD 50059 (Resident Eligibility Form). The resident and the owner sign a copy of the report containing a statement certifying the accuracy of the information. Signatures are required from every household member over the age of 18. A copy must be provided to the family. And the owner must maintain the form as an attachment to the lease in the resident file.
“EIV and You” brochure. Owners and agents using the Enterprise Income Verification (EIV) system must provide each household with the EIV & You brochure at the time of annual recertification. Owners and agents must also provide applicant households who have been selected from the waiting list for screening and final application processing with a copy of the EIV & You brochure. An acknowledgement of receiving the document must be signed and retained in the resident file.
Initial notice. Upon initial signing of the lease and at each annual recertification, the owner must provide an initial notice to the resident. This notice serves to ensure that residents understand that they will need to report to the site’s management office by the specified date the following year to prepare for their next recertification. The resident must sign and date the initial notice to acknowledge receipt; the owner or manager must sign and date the notice as a witness. The owner must maintain the notice with original signatures in the resident’s file and provide a copy of the signed notice to the resident.
Assets disposed of for less than fair market value. Applicants and residents must declare whether an asset has been disposed of for less than fair market value at each certification and recertification. The certification must be signed and retained in the resident file.
Documents to Be Signed for Move-In
In addition to the above documents, the following must be signed by residents at move-in:
HUD Model Lease. The lease is a legally binding contract between the owner and the resident. The regulations governing HUD’s various multifamily housing programs state that owners must use leases that are in an acceptable form to HUD. In practice, owners must use one of the four model leases prescribed by HUD. The lease an owner uses depends on the program being administered.
The lease may cover only rental of the unit and provision of services routinely provided at rental properties such as parking. Owners and residents must execute separate agreements for special services such as a voluntary meals program or health care services. The lease includes language permitting the owner to terminate the lease for drug-related activity and criminal activity.
The head of household, spouse, any individual listed as co-head, and all adult members of the household must sign the lease. When a resident transfers to another unit, the owner and all residents required to sign the lease must sign a lease for the new unit. The owner must maintain this document with original signatures in the resident’s file and provide a copy to the resident.
Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) lease addendum. The law protects victims of domestic violence, dating violence, or stalking, as well as their immediate family members generally, from being evicted or being denied housing assistance if an incident of violence is reported and confirmed. With the VAWA reauthorization in 2013, the VAWA protections expanded to include project-based Section 8, HOME Investment Partnerships program, Section 221(d)(3) Below Market Interest Rate program, Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) properties, USDA Rural Housing properties, HOPWA housing program, Section 236 Supportive Housing, and HUD McKinney-Vento homeless programs.
The VAWA also provides that an incident of actual or threatened domestic violence, dating violence, or stalking does not qualify as a serious or repeated violation of the lease, nor does it constitute good cause for terminating the assistance, tenancy, or occupancy rights of the victim. Furthermore, criminal activity directly relating to domestic violence, dating violence, or stalking is not grounds for terminating the victim’s tenancy. Owners and managing agents may bifurcate a lease in order to evict, remove, or terminate the assistance of the offender while allowing the victim, who is a resident or lawful occupant, to remain in the unit.
Owners and agents are required to attach the HUD-approved lease addendum (Form HUD-91067), which includes the VAWA provisions, to each existing or new lease. Both the owner and the resident must sign and date the addendum. The form must be made part of the lease, as an attachment to the lease, and retained in the resident file.
Citizenship declaration. Owners must give each applicant, at the time of application, notification of the requirement either to submit evidence of citizenship or eligible immigration status or to choose not to claim eligible status. The notification must state that financial assistance is contingent on submission and verification of citizenship or eligible immigration status, describe the type of evidence that must be submitted, give the time period in which evidence must be submitted, and state that assistance may be prorated, denied, or terminated if any or all family members are determined ineligible for assistance. The owner must obtain the following documentation for each family member regardless of age and maintain these documents with original signatures in the resident’s file:
- From U.S. citizens a signed declaration of citizenship. Owners may require certification of the declaration by requiring presentation of a U.S. birth certificate or U.S. passport;
- From noncitizens 62 years and older, a signed declaration of eligible noncitizen status and proof of age; and
- From noncitizens under the age of 62 claiming eligible status a signed declaration of eligible immigration status, a signed consent form, and one of the DHS-approved documents.
Race and ethnicity form. The applicant provides self-certification of her race and ethnicity for data collection by using form HUD-27061-H. Completing this form is optional and there is no penalty for not completing it. Owners should not complete the form on behalf of the resident. 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 her file.
Move-in inspection. Before executing a lease, the owner and resident must jointly inspect the unit. After the owner conducts a unit inspection, the inspection form must indicate the condition of the unit. The condition of the unit must be decent, safe, sanitary, and in good repair. If cleaning or repair is required, the owner must specify on the inspection form the date by which the work will be completed. The date must be no more than 30 days after the effective date of the lease. The resident has five days to report any additional deficiencies to the owner to be noted on the move-in inspection form.
Both the owner and the resident must sign and date the inspection form. The move-in inspection form must be made part of the lease, as an attachment to it.
Lead Hazard Information pamphlet/disclosure (if applicable). For properties where the lead-based paint requirements apply, both owners and residents need to be aware of lead-based paint hazards, such as paint chips, paint dust in units, and contaminated soil in common areas. Lead-based paint is dangerous to adults and children, but especially to children under age 6. Units that are older, are in poor physical condition, have been renovated unsafely, or have exterior lead-contaminated soil are at the most risk. Nevertheless, owners in all applicable sites must provide residents with basic information on lead-based paint and its hazards, and they must maintain an accurate record of this communication.
Prior to leasing, owners must give residents the EPA/HUD/Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) Lead Hazard Information pamphlet (Protect Your Family from Lead In Your Home), or an EPA-approved equivalent.
Owners are required to document that the resident was given a copy of the pamphlet before signing the lease. And residents are required to sign the acknowledgement form.
House rules. Developing a set of house rules is a good practice. By identifying allowable and prohibited activities in housing units and common areas, owners provide a structure for treating residents equitably and for making sure that residents treat each other with consideration. House rules are also beneficial in keeping the properties safe and clean and making them more appealing and livable for the residents.
The rules must be provided to the resident/applicant and an acknowledgement of receiving the document must be signed and retained in the resident file. Owners must give residents written notice 30 days before implementing new house rules.
Pet rules (if applicable). Pet rules help maintain a decent, safe, and sanitary living environment for the tenants in a site through the development of guidelines on the registration and inoculation of pets, the sanitary disposal of waste, and the restraint of pets while in common areas. In addition, pet rules help protect and preserve the physical condition of the property.
It’s important to note that an owner must not apply house pet rules to assistance animals. This prohibition does not preclude an owner from enforcing state and local laws, if they apply.
The pet rules must be provided to the resident/applicant and an acknowledgement of receiving the document must be signed and retained in the resident file.
Live-in aide addendum (if applicable). Owners are encouraged to use a HUD-approved lease addendum that denies occupancy of the unit to a live-in aide after the resident, for whatever reason, is no longer living in the unit. The lease addendum should also give the owner the right to evict a live-in aide who violates any of the house rules.
Both the owner and the resident must sign and date the addendum. And the form must be made part of the lease, as an attachment to the lease, and retained in the resident file.
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