Written Communications Guidelines
Property Owners and Agents with Section 8 face unique challenges when complying with HUD guidelines. This is especially true when communicating in writing, seeking consent, and verifying household circumstances. There are a number of requirements in the HUD Handbook and on the HUD.gov website for these types of communications.
So just what is required to meet HUD’s guidelines with regard to Written Communications and Owner-created Consent/Verification forms? We scoured the HUD Handbook 4350.3, REV-1, Change 4, FAQs, and Code of Federal Regulations to bring a listing of requirements for written, and electronic communications.
For written communications, the following are to be accomplished/included. Owners must accommodate requests by persons with disabilities to have written materials presented in a manner that can be understood by those individuals. Written communications must state that the owner does not discriminate against persons with disabilities in admission or access to the project.
Owners, managing entities, or projects with 15 or more employees must ensure that written communications identify an employee named to coordinate compliance with nondiscrimination requirements. Give the name (or position), address, and telephone number of the employee designated to coordinate the owner’s efforts to comply with Section 504. (This subparagraph applies to owners, managing entities, or projects employing 15 or more people). The Section 504 notice must also be included when a provider lists its apartment community’s features on its website. Where an owner uses a telephone to communicate with members of the public, applicants, and tenants, the owner must use a telecommunications device suitable for the hearing-impaired (TTY) or equally effective communication system (such as a TTY relay service). Owners must provide TTY, unless the phone company offers it. The HUD Handbook contains an optional checklist to determine whether a communication system is an equally effective alternative to the TTY. This also includes the property site sign. If a telephone number is listed, the property must also list the TTY number.
In addition to the requirements above, the following are also required to be present for owner-created consent/verification forms. Consent forms must have the complete Title 18 language. “Title 18, Section 1001 of the U.S. Code states that a person is guilty of a felony for knowingly and willingly making false or fraudulent statements to any department of the United States Government. HUD and any owner (or any employee of HUD or the owner) may be subject to penalties for unauthorized disclosures or improper use of information collected based on the consent form. Use of the information collected based on this verification form is restricted to the purposes cited above. Any person who knowingly or willingly requests, obtains or discloses any information under false pretenses concerning an applicant or participant may be subject to a misdemeanor and fined not more than $5,000. Any applicant or participant affected by negligent disclosure of information may bring civil action for damages, and seek other relief, as may be appropriate, against the officer or employee of HUD or the owner responsible for the unauthorized disclosure or improper use. Penalty provisions for misusing the social security number are contained in the Social Security Act at 208 (a) (6), (7) and (8). Violation of these provisions are cited as violations of 42 U.S.C. 408 (a) (6), (7) and (8).”
Consent forms must also have the following certification and timeframe. "I hereby authorize the release of the requested information. Information obtained under this consent is limited to information that is no older than 12 months. There are circumstances that would require the owner to verify information that is up to 5 years old, which would be authorized by me on a separate consent attached to a copy of this consent."
Verification forms must clearly state in a prominent location that the applicant or tenant may not sign the consent if the form does not clearly indicate who will provide the requested information and who will receive the information.
If you would like further information, please feel free to contact ADOH. We will be glad to assist you.