How Rent is Set

How Much Will I Pay for My Apartment?

Families and individuals residing under the three Leased Housing Voucher Programs (Tenant-Based, Project-Based and Moderate Rehabilitation) have their rent amounts set using the same calculation. 

Boston Housing Authority (BHA) first calculates a household’s maximum housing voucher subsidy, or the total amount that BHA will pay toward rent each month. This amount is based on the payment standard – the cost of rent and utilities for an apartment by bedroom size and location. The maximum amount BHA will pay toward rent is calculated by subtracting 30% of the household’s monthly adjusted income from the payment standard. If the unit rents for less than the payment standard, the household will still pay 30% of its monthly adjusted income.

For example, your payment voucher is for a two-bedroom apartment. If the payment standard for a two-bedroom apartment is $2,036 and your household monthly adjusted income is $600, BHA will pay a maximum of $1,858.

 $2,036 Payment Standard

- $180 (30% of $600; amount you will pay)

 = $1,856 (maximum amount BHA will pay toward your rent)

Your family may rent a unit with more bedrooms than the number on your voucher, but the payment standard amount is based on the unit size for which your family is eligible. Your family may also rent a unit with fewer bedrooms than is listed on your housing voucher – but must meet certain state and federal laws. For example, there can be no more than two persons per living/sleeping room.

Your family's rent and utilities will depend on the unit you choose. If the apartment rent amount is higher than the payment standard, your family will pay more than 30% of its monthly adjusted income. You may not pay more than 40% of your adjusted income towards rent and utilities, even if the apartment is much higher than the payment standard. This means that the owner may have to reduce the rent for you to afford a unit.


If the utilities are not included in the rent, you will have to pay for the utilities yourself. This does not necessarily mean that you will be paying more of your monthly income toward housing costs because the apartment you choose should have a lower rent if the utilities are not included. 

If utilities are included in your rent, you will not have to pay any separate utility companies. The amount subsidized is based off the utility allowance chart. You will pay your landlord your portion of the rent. 

If utilities are not included in your rent, you are responsible to pay the utility bills directly to the utility company or companies. It is important to plan accordingly and budget to make these payments on time! Even if utilities aren’t included in your rent, the utility amount is considered when calculating your rent share. In other words, your share of the rent to the owner would be lower if you are responsible to pay for your own utilities than if the owner provides them.

Landlord Request for Rent Increase

Your landlord may request a rent increase after you have been in your apartment one year. If the rent request is made, your landlord is required to give you and BHA a 60-day notice. BHA will determine if the rent increase amount is reasonable. If BHA approves the request, your Leasing Officer will contact you to discuss what this means for you and how much more you will pay in rent. You do not have to accept the rent increase – your Leasing Officer will advise you regarding your options in this situation. Read more about BHA’s policy on rent increases

Rent Increase Frequently Asked Questions
Please see the attached document for frequently asked questions about the rent increase process and how a rent increase could potentially affect your share of the rent:  Rent Increase FAQs

Annual Recertification

Every year, BHA is required to ask tenants in Section 8/Leased Housing programs to submit income verification and update household information (also called family composition). Tenants must provide this information to remain in the program. If your income and/or family composition changes at any time during the year, you must report the change to your Leasing Officer immediately. Changes made throughout the year (and not during Annual Recertification) are called Interim Recertification. These changes could have an impact on how much you pay for your rent. Learn more about the Annual Recertification or Interim Recertification.

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