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On June 12, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) issued Notice H 2012-11 State Registered Lifetime Sex Offenders in Federally Assisted Housing, which reiterates statutory- and regulatory-based responsibilities to prohibit admission to federally assisted housing for individuals subject to a lifetime registration requirement under a state sex offender registration program, and supersedes Notice H 2009-11.
The new policies stem, in part, from a 2009 OIG audit, which estimated that 2,094 to 3,046 assisted households included a lifetime registered sex offender.
This notice clarifies regulations concerning admissions and strongly recommends additional steps to prevent individuals subject to a lifetime registration requirement under a state sex offender registration program from receiving federal housing assistance.
The notice further specifies that owners/agents who erroneously admitted prohibited participants after June 25, 2001 must evict that household member or terminate assistance for the entire household.
The new notice applies to all public housing and multifamily assisted housing project-based and tenant based rental assistance programs, including new forms of assistance yet to be offered, and most multifamily mortgage insurance program, as listed:
If an owner/agent determines that they erroneously admitted a lifetime sex offender, they must offer the family the opportunity to remove the ineligible family member from the household. If the family is unwilling to remove that individual from the household, the PHA or O/A must terminate assistance for the household.
Owner/agents must ask for, and applicants must provide, a complete list of all states in which any household member has resided. Failure to accurately respond to any question during the application process is cause to deny the family admission.
Additionally, PHAs and O/As must ask whether the applicant, or any member of the applicant's household, is subject to a lifetime sex offender registration requirement in any state.
O/A must provide a rejected applicant with a written rejection notice in accordance with the requirements at Paragraph 4-9.C of Handbook 4350.3 REV-1, Occupancy Requirements of Subsidized Multifamily Housing Programs.
In addition to the above regulatory requirements, HUD recommends that O/As and PHAsadopt new procedures at admission and at annual recertification/reexamination to prevent lifetime registered sex offenders from receiving federal housing assistance.
So what does this mean to your screening and admissions policies? Read on for a summary of impacts.
Owner/agents must follow established guidelines in order to ensure that no lifetime sex offenders are admitted into federally assisted housing. This requirement to screen for sexual offenders was effective June 25, 2001, and was announced to the multi-family housing industry re: HUD HSG Notice 02-22, which was released on October 29, 2002.
Owner/agents must perform criminal screening, before admission, to determine if an applicant, or any member of an applicant's household, is subject to a lifetime registration requirement under any state sex offender registration program.
If the owner/agent discovers that an applicant household includes a member who is subject to any state lifetime sex offender registration, the owner/agent must offer the family the opportunity to remove the ineligible family member. If the family is unwilling to remove that individual from the household, the O/A must deny admission to the household.
HUD recommends that at annual re-certification or re-examination, owner/agents ask whether the tenant or any member of the tenant's household is subject to a state lifetime sex offender registration program in any state.
This is a recommendation, not a requirement. However, if an owner/agent discovers that a household member was admitted in error, the owner/agent must immediately pursue eviction or termination of assistance. The O/A must offer the family the opportunity to remove the ineligible family member from the household.
These rules apply to any household member who was subject to a lifetime sex offender registration requirement at admission and was admitted after June 25, 2001.
For admissions before June 25, 2001, there is currently no HUD statutory or regulatory basis to evict or terminate the assistance of the household solely on the basis of a household member's sex offender registration status.
As pointed out in the notices, when terminating tenancy (eviction) or assistance, you must comply with the requirements outlined in HUD Handbook 4350.3 Revision 1, Change 3, Chapter 8.)