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Rents & Payment

NEW! We are launching a digital portal for landlords. The new system will make it easy for users to

  • review Housing Assistance Payments (HAP) over several years
  • download copies of 1099 forms
  • view inspection results
  • look up tenant information
  • find the latest program updates

If you haven't signed up for direct deposit yet, you can find the form here.

Four things influence how much rent you can charge for a subsidized unit:

  1. Market rent
  2. Voucher payment standards
  3. Utilities
  4. Tenant income.

Different voucher holders will be able to pay different amounts of rent for the same unit because the amount they can pay varies based on their income. A voucher holder can never pay more than market rent for a unit—the amount an owner could get from an unassisted tenant.

Market rent

Seattle Housing Authority is required to establish a "rent reasonable" amount for every Tenant-based Program unit, both at the initial leasing of a new tenant, and also upon every rent increase requested by the owner.

In making the rent reasonable determination, Seattle Housing Authority takes into account HUD-prescribed variables—location, size, type, quality, age of unit and amenities, plus any housing services, maintenance, and utilities provided by the owner. Information from the agency's physical inspection of the unit is also used, along with current market data provided by Dupre + Scott.

The rent reasonable amount is the maximum rent an owner can receive for a unit. If you are a landlord and believe the amount should be higher, you can provide documentation of rents for similar units in the immediate neighborhood and the decision may be reconsidered.

Voucher payment standards

Seattle Housing Authority establishes voucher payment standards for units of each bedroom size. This sets the maximum subsidy the agency will pay for a tenant's housing costs, including an estimate for tenant-paid utilities.

The standards are based on HUD’s annually published Fair Market Rent (FMR) for the Seattle/Belleuve area, adjusted for the local Seattle market.

Learn more about voucher payment standards.


Voucher payment standards include an amount for utilities. The more utilities that are paid by the tenant, the less subsidy is available for rent.

Seattle Housing Authority establishes utility estimates for the cost of utilities not included in the rent. They are based on the typical cost of utilities and services paid by energy-conservative households that occupy housing of the same size and utility type in the same locality. Estimates are not based on an individual family's actual energy consumption and do not include non-essential utility costs, such as telephone or cable.

Additional utility estimate information is available in PDF format (download Adobe Reader)

Tenant income

Tenants may pay between 30 percent and 40 percent of their adjusted gross income for rent and utilities when they initially lease a unit. If they find a unit where the rent plus the applicable utility estimate equals Seattle Housing Authority’s voucher payment standard, they will only pay 30 percent of their income for housing costs.

They may choose to pay more if the unit is in a location or has amenities they want, but they may not pay more than 40 percent of their income. This "40 percent affordability cap" applies only at initial leasing. After the first year, the only regulatory restraint on the rent is the rent reasonable calculation, and families may choose to spend more than 40 percent of their income on rent and utilities.

Who pays for what?

Tenants pay what is called the total family share, which is between 30 percent and 40 percent of their monthly adjusted income for rent and utilities. "Monthly adjusted income" is the household’s gross income, after certain HUD-mandated deductions and allowances are taken into account.

Seattle Housing Authority pays the housing assistance payment, which is the difference between the cost of rent and utilities and the total family share. The agency does not actually pay tenants' utilities. Instead, a utility estimate—an average amount the tenant can expect to spend on utilities for his or her unit—is included when calculating how much subsidy the tenant will need each month.

If the tenant's total family share is greater than the utility estimate for tenant-paid utilities, the tenant pays the utilities called for in the lease, and also pays a portion of the rent to the owner. If the tenant’s total family share is less than the utility estimate for tenant-paid utilities, Seattle Housing Authority will pay the entire contract rent to the owner and also assist the tenant with a payment allocated for their utilities.

If you are a landlord participating in the program, Seattle Housing Authority will mail your first check after all paperwork from you and the tenant is received. Your first payment will be prorated to the date the unit passed inspection. Subsequent checks will arrive on the first of every month.

Rent negotiation

You may be asked to lower rent before the first lease is signed because rent must be both affordable and reasonable during the initial lease term. Rent is affordable if it does not require the tenant to pay more than 40 percent of his or her monthly adjusted income for rent plus utilities. Rent is reasonable if it is comparable to similar units in the same area. After the first year the tenant may pay more for rent and utilities, so Seattle Housing Authority will only ask to lower rent if it is not reasonable.

The program does not have specific rent limits. However, rents must always be comparable to similar units in the same area, and the tenant may not pay more than 40 percent of their monthly adjusted income for rent and utilities during the initial lease term.

Rent increases

If you can document that the current rental rate for a subsidized tenant’s unit is below market, Seattle Housing Authority may be able to approve an increase. To request an increase, the following conditions must be met:

  • Your tenant is on month-to-month tenancy or the initial 12-month lease is ending before the proposed effective date.

  • The proposed rent amount is not more than you charge for non-subsidized tenants; it is "rent reasonable."

  • The unit passed its most recent Housing Quality Standards inspection.

  • You have not raised the rent for the unit within the last 12 months.

If these conditions have been met, send your tenant a notice including the tenant’s name, address, unit number, proposed effective date and proposed rent amount, and the reason for the change in rent. Be sure your contact information is also on the notice.

A copy of this notice must be mailed or faxed to Seattle Housing Authority, and must arrive at least 60 days before the proposed effective date of the increase. It is your responsibility, not the tenant’s, to notify the agency of the proposed rent increase.

Submit a copy of your rent increase request by email to, by fax to 206-239-1760, or by mail to:

Seattle Housing Authority
Attn: Rent Increase Desk
P.O. Box 19028
190 Queen Anne Ave N
Seattle WA 98109-1028