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Jan 06

All About Voucher Program Rents, Part 4: The Importance of the Utility Chart

Posted on January 6, 2016 at 10:05 am by Dawn Corrigan

Note: This is the fourth in a four-part series on voucher program rents. Part One explained Affordability and Rent Reasonableness. Part Two covered Side Payments. Part Three reviewed Utility Assignments.

The utility chart is a crucial piece of the lease-up process under the voucher program, for several reasons. First, the program stipulates that tenants’ available dollars for housing are applied to utility costs first, then rent. Therefore, the utility chart must be filled out correctly to ensure that affordability, tenant rent, and the housing assistance payment are all calculated correctly.

In addition, one of the voucher program rules, and part of the Housing Quality Standards, is that essential utilities (electricity, water, sewer, trash service, and sometimes natural gas) must be in service at all times in assisted units. For utilities assigned to the tenant, this is the tenant family’s responsibility. Accurate RTAs help ensure that Pensacola Housing staff can effectively monitor this tenant obligation of the program.

Once a HAP Contract has been fully executed, the utility chart becomes part of the contract. For this reason, it’s crucial for the landlord to notify the Housing Office in advance if the types of utilities, or the utility assignments, are going to change at any point after the contract has been executed. Failure to do so may result in a breached HAP Contract, and housing assistance payments to the landlord may have to be abated.

If the RTA and HAP Contract show that a utility is paid for by the owner, it is a serious program violation for the owner to attempt to collect additional monies from the tenant for that utility. (See our April 30, 2015 post on Side Payments for more information.)

Utility Chart Questionnaire
Pensacola Housing created the following questionnaire to help landlords and tenants fill out the utility chart correctly. Once you’ve jotted down the answers to these 11 questions, it should be easy to fill out the utility chart on the RTA.

1) Who pays for electric service at the unit, the Tenant or the Owner?
     Tenant       Owner

Housing Tip 2Housing Tip: HUD uses the term “owner” inclusively on its voucher-program forms to refer either to the property owner of record, or to an authorized agent, representative, or property manager acting on that owner’s behalf.

2) Does the unit have sewer service or a septic tank?
     Sewer       Septic

3) If the unit has sewer service, who pays for it?
     Tenant       Owner

4) Who pays for water service at the unit?
     Tenant       Owner

5) Who pays for trash service at the unit?
     Tenant       Owner

6) What type of heat does the unit have?
     Electric      Natural Gas      Bottle Gas      Other

7) What type of water heater does the unit have?
     Electric      Natural Gas      Bottle Gas      Other

8) What type of stove does the unit have?
     Electric      Natural Gas      Bottle Gas      Other

9) If the unit has any gas appliances, who pays for gas?
     Tenant       Owner

10) Who supplies the unit’s refrigerator?
       Tenant       Owner

11) Who supplies the unit’s stove/range?
       Tenant       Owner