Tenants in supportive housing have all the same rights and responsibilities as any other tenants in the community. They should have leases or subleases without any language or riders that would not ordinarily be found in a standard lease agreement. 

  • All supportive housing tenants are provided with leases or subleases identical to non-supportive housing tenants — without service participation requirements or limits on length of stay (as long as lease terms are met). Ideally, the initial term of a lease or sublease is at least one year.
  • Tenants cannot be evicted for not participating in services or for failing to follow through on their services and/or treatment plan.
  • Tenants are not evicted for failing to maintain sobriety. This does not mean that tenants are allowed to engage in illegal behavior or to commit other lease violations that may result from their lack of sobriety. Click here for a sample Drug and Alcohol Policy.
  • As part of the lease signing process, property/housing management staff walks tenants through the lease agreement, clearly explaining their rights and responsibilities as leaseholders. Tenants are provided with a signed copy of their lease.
  • Tenants are notified of the process for any lease violations and grievance/appeal procedures.
  • Tenants are not removed from housing without legal eviction proceedings.
  • Tenants are supported in requesting and obtaining any reasonable accommodations in order to successfully continue their tenancy. Click here for more information on Reasonable Accommodations During Occupancy.

Click here for a Sample Apartment Lease.

Tenant Education

The process of moving into a supportive housing unit and becoming a good tenant can be challenging. Many supportive housing tenants may not have had a lease in their name for a long time, or at all, and may be unsure about their rights and obligations as a tenant. It is important for property and housing management staff to establish a positive relationship and clear communication channels with tenants from their entry into supportive housing. Property and housing management staff should work closely with service providers to ensure that tenants receive the support they need before, during and after move-in. Although property and housing management staff should take the lead in ensuring tenants get the information they need, peers and/or neighbors can also play an important role in communicating this information to new tenants and welcoming them to the community. 

As part of the tenant education and orientation process, property and/or housing management staff should:

1. Carefully walk tenants through the lease agreement, giving them ample opportunities to ask questions. This walk-through should take place prior to lease signing and should be revisited within one month after move-in as the tenant may be overwhelmed and not fully able to absorb the information during the initial move-in process. The walk-through should ensure that tenants understand:

  • Key leaseholder responsibilities such as timely payment of rent, taking care of their unit and its surroundings, and not disturbing neighbors.
  • Their accountability for the actions of everyone in the household and any guests.
  • Behaviors that can threaten their housing, such as violent or threatening behavior, theft or destruction of property, causing serious health, fire or safety hazards, and engaging in illegal activities within unit.
  • Service agencies and landlords are not responsible for the loss of personal property, and are not liable for personal injury that takes place in tenants' new homes.

2. Consider providing a written guide with basic information on issues that a tenant may encounter.  This guide may be developed in partnership with the service provider and should focus on health and safety topics, including:

  • How to operate smoke detectors and fire extinguishers
  • How and when to call 911
  • How to evacuate the unit/building
  • How to operate locks and lights
  • How to get and use cleaning supplies, and how often to clean
  • What to do if the toilet clogs
  • Who takes the garbage out and to where
  • Who repairs what; how to handle and prepare food in a safe manner
  • If pets are allowed
  • Any other notable community, safety and health issues

3. Ensure that tenants have access to multilingual staff, translated materials, and/or interpretation and translation services, so that they can understand the materials and explanations provided.

Click here for more information about Move-In: Keys to Success.

Next: Housing Inspection, Apartment Walk-through and Maintenance

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