HUD’s Office of Inspector General Reviews Landlord Incentives at Moving to Work (MTW) Demonstration PHAs

HUD’s Office of the Inspector General (OIG) issued Use of Landlord Incentives in the Housing Choice Voucher Program (Memorandum No: 2021-LA-0803), a limited review conducted to determine the use of landlord incentives in the Moving to Work (MTW) Demonstration program to increase landlord participation and retention in the Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) program. The review also considered landlord incentives to expand housing options for voucher households outside areas of low-income or minority concentration.

Thirty-four of the existing 39 public housing agencies (PHAs) participating in the MTW program responded to an OIG questionnaire. OIG selected 24 PHAs for follow up phone interviews, 22 of which were completed.

Of the 34 PHAs that responded to the questionnaire, 28 (82%) indicated that they used some form of incentive to recruit or retain landlords in the HCV program during the period January 1, 2016 through December 31, 2019. Of the 28 PHAs, 27 (96%) used nonmonetary incentives, 20 (71%) used monetary incentives, and 19 (68%) used a combination of monetary and nonmonetary incentives.

OIG identified the five nonmonetary incentives that were most popular: direct housing assistance payment deposit, online access specifically for landlords’ use (a portal), workshops and outreach activities, landlord liaison, and streamlining the inspection process. The report also identified the most popular monetary incentives:

  1. Bonuses to landlords new to the HCV program
  2. Property damage reimbursements
  3. Vacancy loss or bonuses for renting to another voucher household (“re-rent”)
  4. Higher payment standards for high-opportunity areas
  5. Bonuses for new landlord in high-opportunity areas
  6. Security deposit assistance

Eighty-two percent of the PHAs indicated that the incentives, in general, were effective in keeping landlords in the program, but 61% indicated that incentives were not as effective at getting existing landlords to add more units.

Of the five most popular nonmonetary incentives, direct deposit and landlord portals were considered most effective, while the monetary incentives thought most effective were new landlord bonuses, property damage reimbursements, and vacancy loss payments/re-renting bonuses. One PHA working with many corporate landlords reported that its $100 new landlord bonus was not effective because it created an accounting problem for the corporate landlord. OIG noted that incentives cited as most effective addressed common landlord concerns such as streamlining the inspection process and having a single point of contact (a liaison or move-in desk).

Some of the most popular incentives used by the PHAs included new landlord bonuses (used by 10 PHAs), vacancy loss re-rent (continuity) bonuses, and landlord liaisons. One PHA stated that the vacancy loss re-rent (continuity) bonus was particularly effective because landlords did not lose rent while waiting for a new tenant to be processed.

One of the more popular nonmonetary incentives was the landlord liaison. Used by nine PHAs, the liaison was either a dedicated PHA employee or one whose duties included other PHA activities. One PHA had a liaison who streamlined the landlord on-boarding process and served as its single point of contact. The use of a move-in desk was staffed by a separate position, which kept the inspection process on track and used reminder software specific to that purpose.

In high-opportunity areas, one PHA said that it used small-area fair market rents (SAFMRs) while also streamlining its inspection and lease-up procedures. As a result, it thought its voucher households were more competitive with market-rate tenants.

Use of Landlord Incentives in the Housing Choice Voucher Program is at:

More information about MTW is on page 4-57 of NLIHC’s 2020 Advocates’ Guide.