Part 3 - Crucial VAWA Questions Answered by HUD

HUD's recent explanation of its VAWA regulation provides guidance for HUD programs and a safe harbor for tax credit properties. This series discusses several of the key questions answered by the HUD VAWA final rule. NOTE: The regulation can be found HERE and are referenced in these articles starting with VAWA 2016 Fed.Reg. and then by page numbers of the PDF from the Federal Register found at the above link. The Rural Development follow-up is HERE.

Question 6: Does the victim or owner pay the costs to transfer units when a victim of VAWA violence requests an emergency transfer? I read in the draft of the HUD regulation that the owner was responsible. That could be a very expensive burden.

Answer: Transfers create costs related to utilities, packing and moving, damage repairs, painting, cleaning, inspections, lease execution and explanation and assuring housing eligibility. Responding to information provided by commentators on the high costs and complexity of transfers, HUD removed the requirement that owners pay for transfer costs from their final regulation. HUD says "housing providers will not be required to bear moving costs that tenants and their household members generally pay, including application fees and deposits, in addition to costs to physically move households and their belongings." (VAWA 2016 Fed.Reg. 80744)

Question 7: In article 2 of this series, as part of the answer to question 4, it was mentioned that we cannot require third-party documentation of a victim's status unless there is conflicting evidence. I have a lot of questions about this. What constitutes conflicting evidence? Who decides how far to take getting evidence when fraud is suspected?

Answer: You are not alone in asking questions like these. It is this author's experience that conflicting evidence generally presents itself when two residents of a property or unit self-certify to be victims of the other when faced with eviction. Beyond that, HUD realizes that there are a lot of unanswered questions and has not addressed them completely in the new Rule. HUD appreciates that there are several questions such as the above raised by commentators to the VAWA rule and will consider them in drafting future guidance to assist housing providers who receive conflicting evidence. (VAWA 2016 Fed.Reg. 80726) However, next we can answer one question regarding situations with conflicting evidence.

Question 8: How long does a victim have to provide third-party documentation in cases where there is conflicting evidence?

Answer: The VAWA rule gives 14 days for a person seeking VAWA protection to provide documentation. As this includes the simple option of self-certification, generally 14 days is sufficient. However, in cases where there is conflicting evidence, some VAWA victims may not be able to acquire third-party documentation within the 14 days. Under the final rule, tenants have 30 days—generally the period of one rent cycle—to submit third-party documentation in cases of conflicting evidence. Housing providers may grant extensions where appropriate. (VAWA 2016 Fed.Reg. 80762)

Next time: "Must sexual assault have occurred on a property to be covered by VAWA?" ...and more questions relating to sexual assault!

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