Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Collaborative?
The Collaborative is a landlord recruitment program intended to expand housing opportunities for those experiencing homelessness, while also providing training and professional development to frontline staff.
I have a room/apartment that I want to rent out. What is the basic joining criteria to participate?

We truly value the relationship we have and intend to build with the landlord community. Therefore, we do not want to make partnering with the Collaborative unnecessarily restrictive. However, there are certain requirements that must be met in order to ensure that we are looking out for the best interest of our clients, as well as ensuring that you have what you need to be successful. Below is a summary of the basic joining criteria:

  1. Complete a vetting process to ensure the unit meets basic habitability standards
  2. Have ownership of a unit being rented (for private landlords only)
  3. Complete required forms/paperwork.
  4. Express willingness to both 1) accept third-party rental payments (either temporary and/or extended rental assistance) AND 2) complete necessary paperwork for administration of those payments, if applicable.
  5. List unit at or below Fair Market Rate (FMR) for Fairfax County (or applicable County if unit is located out of jurisdiction). For the official FMR in Fairfax County, click here. Some exceptions may apply.
  6. Allow unit information to be collected through the Landlord Property Listing Worksheet and stored with the Collaborative in a secure, password protected database for record-keeping purposes and future listings.
What is a Housing Partner?

Becoming a Housing Partner means that you have are willing to partner with the housing collaborative and meet the following requirements.

  • Have ownership of a unit for rent
  • Complete a basic and standardized vetting process 
  • Complete a W-9, HUD Utility Spreadsheet, and Habitability Checklist to be held on file.
  • Express willingness to both 1) accept third-party rental payments (either temporary rental assistance or ongoing subsidy) AND 2) complete necessary paperwork for administration of those payments, if applicable
  • List unit at or below Fair Market Rate (FMR) in the official “Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC- VA-MD HUD Metro FMR Area” (or applicable FMR area if unit is located out of jurisdiction)*
  • Allow unit information to be collected through the Landlord Property Listing Worksheet and stored with the Collaborative in a secure, password protected database for record-keeping purposes, anonymous data collection, and future property listings.
  • Sign a non-legally binding Housing Partner agreement indicating understanding of the Collaborative and its terms

Ultimately, this means you are willing to rent at least one of your units to a client through one of our partner agencies

In return for becoming a Housing Partner, you get access to our Standard Incentive Program, which includes:

  • Ability to list vacancy(s) county-wide to a pool of individuals and families ready to rent, with guaranteed contact with a prospective tenant within 3 business days of listing date (or explanation for why a tenant cannot be identified, if applicable)
  • Active housing stability support services for new tenants for the first 90 days
    • Includes phone check-ins with the landlord at least twice within 90 days.
  • Public acknowledgement of participation in the Collaborative at Housing Opportunities Collaborative appreciation events
  • Access to the Collaborative for up to 6 months after lease-up to assist with crisis intervention, if needed
    • Examples of crises include tenant behaviors that could potentially lead to legal eviction, including:
      • Late payment of rent
      • Destruction of property/unit
      • Valid neighbor complaints
      • Other lease violations

Crisis intervention is defined as targeted follow-up to a landlord complaint that falls within the realm of “crises” as defined above. The Collaborative will attempt to resolve the situation in a way that is positive for both landlord and tenant. The Collaborative’s Housing Resource Coordinator will act as a liaison between landlord and partner agency, should it be needed. Crisis intervention does not guarantee resolution of the complaint and intensity of follow-up will vary depending on the issue.

What is a Game Changer?

Becoming a Game Changer means you have agreed to all of the conditions of becoming a Housing Partner, while also taking it one step further to allow Collaborative clients increased access to opportunities for housing by altering entry/screening criteria to be less restrictive than normal. This could include:

  • Adjusting screening criteria (flexible/lower threshold regarding criminal background, credit score, past evictions, etc.)
  • Decrease advertised rent amount
  • Include utilities in rent (if not already included)
  • Other measures agreed upon between Collaborative and landlord

In return for becoming a Game Changer, you get access to our Premium Incentive Program, which includes:

  • Ability to list vacancy(s) county-wide to a pool of individuals and families ready to rent, with guaranteed contact with a prospective tenant within 3 business days of listing date (or explanation for why a tenant cannot be identified, if applicable)
  • High profile recognition of participation at annual Housing Opportunities Collaborative appreciation event, as well as be featured by name on the Collaborative’s website and other marketing materials, when appropriate
  • Ability to submit claims to the Collaborative’s Risk Reduction Fund ( based on availability of funds at time of claim)
    • Intended to supplement costs for damages above and beyond security deposit, lost rent due to client breaking lease, and other reasons on a case-by-case basis.
    • Maximum claim amount per landlord is $1,000.00.
  • Active housing stabilization support services for new tenants for a minimum of first 120 days
    • Includes three phone check-ins with the landlord within the first 120 days.
    • Access to the Collaborative for up to 12 months or term of the lease, whichever is the lesser, to assist with crisis-intervention, if needed
      • Examples of crises include tenant behaviors that could potentially lead to legal eviction, including:
        • Late payment of rent
        • Destruction of property/unit
        • Valid neighbor complaints
        • Other lease violations

Crisis intervention is defined as targeted follow-up to a landlord complaint that falls within the realm of “crises” as defined above. The Collaborative will attempt to resolve the situation in a way that is positive for both landlord and the tenant. Collaborative’s Housing Resource Coordinator will act as a liaison between landlord and partner agency, should it be needed. Crisis intervention does not guarantee resolution of the complaint and intensity of follow-up will vary depending on the issue.

 

How can I be sure that Collaborative clients will be good tenants?

The short answer is, you can’t be. However, this can also be said about anyone that you rent your unit to. Whether you find them on Craigslist or if they are a friend of a friend, there is always a level of uncertainty. By renting to an individual or family who is a member of the Collaborative, there is guaranteed follow-up for at least 90-120 days after they have moved into your unit, as well as access to the Collaborative program administrators to assist in crisis intervention between you and your tenant(s), if needed, for up to 6 months for housing partners and a full year Game Changers after tenant(s) move in. In addition, if you are a Game Changer there is a risk reduction fund of up to $1000 per landlord, which provides the ability to submit claims for damages that go above and beyond the security deposit, a broken lease, etc. (Payment is based on availability of funds at time of claim)

You mentioned that my information will be stored in the Collaborative’s database. How can I be sure that my information will stay secure and not be shared?
The Collaborative purchased a secure SSL certificate that encrypts all of the information that is included in the database. Only Collaborative partner agency staff can access the information stored in the database. Personal information is not shared with anyone outside of our agency partnerships. The database will produce reports that will include geographic information, but will not include any personally identifiable information. We take the security and confidentiality of all information as one of our top priorities.
Can you explain the forms I need to fill out to participate in the program?

We know that no one likes paperwork. Unfortunately, most of us also know that paperwork is a necessary evil to make sure everyone is on the same page and everything is documented. That being said, there are some forms that need to be filled out in order for landlords to participate in the Collaborative. Most of these forms are required for the administration of financial assistance (i.e. if your tenant is receiving some sort of assistance with their rent).

To see the collaborative and helpful documents, please click here.

Though the number of forms and the information being asked for may seem daunting, everything is actually relatively simple and your partner agency staff person can walk you through the entire process. Please also know that all forms and information within are kept secure and confidential. They will not be shared with anyone and are only for the purposes of establishing program/assistance eligibility.

HUD Utility Allowance

Rental Assistance programs need to ensure that tenants are NOT paying more than 40%* of their annual household income towards the cost of utilities + rent. This document helps to guide the process of this determination by providing average costs of utilities that are plugged into a calculation of the rental portion that the tenant will need to pay.

Basic Habitability Checklist

This document ensures that basic safety and living standards are being met by the property. This form should be completed at time of inspection and needs to be agreed upon and signed by the non-profit agency, the landlord, and the tenant.

W-9 Form

In order for a rental assistance program to process payments on behalf of a tenant they are required to keep on file where and to whom they are sending the money. Your information is only valid for a 12 month period. The form is kept secure and is only retained in the event of an audit.

Housing Partner/Game Changer Agreement

Depending on whether you have decided to be a Housing Partner or a Game Changer, we ask that you sign this non-legally binding agreement indicating that you agree to the terms and understand what is being asked of you. The Agreement also includes what is expected of the Collaborative and our agency partners.

Landlord Property Listing Worksheet

This worksheet was developed to collect information about you and your unit. The more information you provide, the easier time we will have matching you up with the right tenant. For example, if your unit is on the third floor and does not have an elevator, then we don’t want to waste your time (or their time) introducing you to someone who cannot climb stairs. We ask for this information only to ensure that we can do the best possible job in filling your vacancy as soon as possible.

* Actual percentage may vary based on program