This page is for current voucher holders residing in the Sarasota Housing Authority jurisdiction. If you have questions about certain procedures, please click on the link below for frequently asked questions. This may answer your questions, and save you the time of calling your caseworker and making an appointment.
How do I report changes to my income or my household composition?
All changes must be reported in writing using a rent change request form. You may come to the office to complete the rent change form, or you may call and ask the receptionist to mail you one. The change is not considered reported until the housing authority receives your completed rent change form and all supporting documents. If you are reporting a new job or new childcare, you must provide the complete address and phone number for the employer or childcare provider. We will not make any changes until all information is verified and you are required to continue paying your current tenant portion of rent until the change is made by the SHA. All changes must be reported in writing within ten (10) calendar days from when the change actually takes place. Failure to report changes in a timely manner can result in the tenant owing money back to the housing authority for overpayments to your landlord.
Can I add someone to my household?
The Sarasota Housing Authority requires that all children being added to your household are either biological children of an existing family member, or a child that has been placed with you through the court system. You can no longer add a child unless they fall under one of those categories. Adults cannot be added to your household if they change your voucher size. Any adults that are currently part of your household cannot be removed and then added back. If you have a college student as part of your household, they are eligible to remain in your household while they are attending college. It is not recommended that you remove a college student from your household unless they graduate and then move out and establish their own household.
Can I move to another house or apartment in Sarasota with my voucher?
If you have been living in your current unit for at least one year, you are in good standing with your landlord, and you do not owe the housing authority any money, you may be eligible to move. To start the move process, you must come to the office and fill out a “request to move” form. Your housing authority caseworker will assist you with everything that you need to know in order to move. Please be advised that you are not allowed to move out of your unit until you have a voucher to move. If you move without following the procedures, you will lose your assistance. The Sarasota Housing Authority allows clients to live anywhere in Sarasota County, as well as parts of Manatee County. If you receive a voucher to move and you fail to use that voucher, you will have to reapply to the program when the waiting list is open. You will not be eligible for a grievance hearing if you fail to utilize the voucher before it expires.
What should I do if my landlord says that I owe money and I disagree?
If you believe that your landlord is trying to charge you additional money that you are not supposed to be paying, you should call your caseworker to set up an appointment. You would need to bring with you, all receipts and evidence of payment to your landlord to show your caseworker. You should always keep receipts for payments you have made in case something arises that needs to be addressed. Please keep in mind that a landlord cannot charge you additional rent over and above what the housing authority has approved as the contract rent. And if you agree to pay any amounts over the approved amount, your assistance can be terminated for “side payments”
What should I do if my landlord files an eviction against me?
If your landlord files an eviction, you should immediately provide a copy of the eviction proceeding to the housing authority. Your caseworker will need to make copies of the documents that you have received. In Sarasota County, you are required to request a court date with the clerk of court if you wish to tell your side of the story. If you fail to do so, then the court will be able to make a ruling in the eviction without you having an opportunity to dispute the information in court. If you are not sure of your rights, you should seek legal counsel to represent you in court. Please remember that an eviction can cause you to lose your Section 8 assistance if the court finds in the favor of the landlord.
What if I have items in my home that need repairs?
If you have items in your home that are in need of repairs, you should contact your landlord immediately. The landlord should respond and make any necessary repairs. If the landlord does not respond in a reasonable amount of time (48 to 72 hours), then you should contact the housing authority a request a “special inspection”. The inspection department will ask you questions regarding the nature of the repairs that need to be made. If it is determined that those are items that would cause the unit to fail an HQS inspection, then the housing authority will set up an inspection of your unit. If the unit fails the inspection, the landlord would have 30 days to make the necessary repairs unless they are considered life-threatening emergencies. In those cases, the landlord would only have 24 hours to make the repairs. If the items that you are calling about are not items that the housing authority would fail, then we will not perform a special inspection.
Can I move to another state or city with my voucher?
If you have been in your unit for at least one year and you are in good standing with your landlord, you may be eligible to move. Under the regulations regarding your Housing Choice Voucher, you can exercise your right to move under portability. This means that you would move to an area outside of the Sarasota Housing Authority jurisdiction and another housing authority would administer your voucher. The agency that will administer the voucher is known as the receiving agency. You would start your move process by completing a request to move. If you are approved to move, then your caseworker will set up an appointment for you to receive a voucher. During this appointment, you would provide the caseworker with the name of the housing authority in the city and state for which you would like to move. If you are unsure about which housing authority handles the area, your caseworker should be able to assist you at your appointment. There are special rules and requirements for clients wishing to port out of our jurisdiction, and your caseworker will go over those with you when you attend the appointment.
What if I am supposed to receive a utility reimbursement and I haven’t received it?
Utility reimbursements are not processed before the 1st of the month. If the 1st occurs on a weekend or holiday, then the payment is not processed until the following business day. Most clients receive this money on a BB&T debit card. If you have not received your money by the 15th of the month and you have a debit card, you will need to contact the bank to see what has taken place. If you have not received a debit card yet, your money will be paid by check and should be received by the 15th of the month. Please do not contact the housing authority regarding your payment unless you have not received it by the 15th day of the month. Just a note: if you pay rent to your landlord, you do not receive a utility reimbursement from the housing authority.
What if I need copies of things from my tenant file?
If you need something from your tenant file, you must request those items in writing using the Request for Documents form. That form can be completed at the office or it can be mailed to your home. Your request will be passed on to your caseworker and they will pull the required items and make copies. You will be notified when those items are available for pick-up. The cost of copies is 50 cents per page. You will be required to pay for the copies when you pick them up. Those requests will be processed within 48 hours of receipt by the housing authority.
What should I do if I need help paying my rent or utilities?
If you cannot pay your rent or utilities as required by your lease, you should contact United Way by calling 211 from your home phone or cell phone to see if you qualify for assistance. Please be advised that the housing authority does NOT assist anyone with paying their bills, but United Way may be able to find agencies that have funding available for you. The agencies that provide assistance are community agencies and/or churches. Those funds are not always available as they are dependent on contributions and grants. Once the funding is used, assistance may not be available. Just a note: your rent is based on 30% of your total family income. If you have experienced a loss of income, you need to report that change in writing using the Rent Change Request Form and then submit it to the housing authority so that your rent can be adjusted. Please see the previous section of this document regarding rent changes.
What are my tenant responsibilities?
You are required to annually recertify your household size and your income at a time specified by the Housing Authority. You are also required to allow the inspector to inspect your unit as required by HUD either annually or biennially. If you experience any changes in your income or household between your annual recertification, then you are required to report those changes as well. I must follow all rules and procedures regarding moves or I may be subject to termination.
What if I am terminated from the Housing Choice Voucher Program?
If you lose your assistance for violating any rules or obligations, then you will have to wait a period of 5 years from your termination date in order to reapply for housing. If you owe money to the Housing Authority under any federal assistance programs, you will not be allowed to reapply until that debt is paid full, regardless of how many years it has been.