TN 46 (03-99)

SI 00835.120 Rental Liability as LA Basis

A. Policy

1. Rental Liability

An individual is living in his own household when there is liability to the landlord for payment of any of the rental charges on the part of:

  • the individual;

  • the living-with eligible spouse;

  • any person whose income may be deemed to the individual.

2. ISM and Rental Liability

The PMV rule is used to determine ISM for an individual who has rental liability. The VTR never applies when an individual is in his/her own household.

3. Rental Liability Period

A rental liability period is the time span covered by a rental agreement.

a. Period Begins

The period begins with the first month for which the landlord requires payment of rent, but never before the month in which the rental arrangement is made, whether or not the tenant actually pays rent.

b. Period Ends

The period ends in the month in which:

  • the landlord informs the tenant that he/she is no longer required to pay rent; or

  • the tenant voluntarily terminates the agreement.

NOTE: The loss of rental liability is a breakpoint which is effective in the following month. For example, if rental liability ends in March, the new living arrangement would be effective in April). (SI 00835.510)

c. Rent Arrearage's Effect on Rental Liability Period

In the case of a rent arrearage (rent payment is overdue), the rental liability continues to exist through the date that landlord terminates the agreement.

Example: An individual with rental liability did not pay rent beginning 01/98. On 07/17/98, the landlord informed him that he did not have to pay the back rent. The individual has rental liability for the entire period in arrears (i.e., 01/98 through 07/98). His rental liability ended on 07/17/98. The loss of rental liability is effective the following month (SI 00835.510B.4.). Therefore, rent-free shelter is not an issue for January through July, but the CR must develop the individual's living arrangements for August.

4. Rental Liability — Room Rental Within a Private Dwelling

Room rental within a private dwelling is a form of rental liability.

  • When an individual lives in the same dwelling with the landlord, he/ she must be in a separate household from the landlord's in order to have rental liability.

  • A separate household functions as a separate economic unit, and more than one economic unit may exist in a single dwelling. If the individual and the landlord do not function as separate economic units, the individual is not in a separate household and cannot have rental liability.

5. Flat Fee for Food and Shelter

A flat fee for room and board is a form of rental liability. It is a variation of separate room rental within a private dwelling. With flat fee, the individual maintains a separate household from the landlord and pays a flat rate for food and shelter.

B. Definitions

1. Landlord

A landlord is a party who provides living quarters in return for rent. For purposes of LA and ISM, a landlord and his or her tenant(s) cannot be members of the same household.

2. Rent

Rent is a consideration which consists of cash only and which is due to the landlord or his/her authorized agent under a rental agreement. Services provided in return for shelter do not constitute rent. See SI 00835.020 for further discussion of the term “rent.”

C. Procedure — curtailed development of rental liability

1. Initial Claim — Signed Statement Only

Accept an individual’s statement, signed or on DROC, that the individual or living-with spouse has rental liability if:

  • the individual lives alone; or

  • the only other household member(s) is the individual's spouse, his/ her deemor, or any child (whether or not related).

2. Initial Claim — Continuous Rental Liability

If SI 00835.120C.1. does not apply, accept the individual’s statement, signed or on DROC, that the individual or living-with spouse has rental liability in the following situations.

  1. The individual or his living-with spouse has had continuous rental liability since the current period of residence began and every other household member either:

    • falls into one of the categories listed in SI 00835.120C.1.; or

    • met the definition of “child” at the beginning of the current period of residence (SI 00501.010).

  2. Document on the MSSICS DROC screen or an RC the rationale for the determination that rental liability exists based on continuous rental liability.

3. Initial Claim — Evaluating Household Member Status as a Child

  1. Accept an allegation of a child's past or present school attendance in applying SI 00835.120C.1. or SI 00835.120C.2. above.

  2. Use the full development procedure below (SI 00835.120D.) if the individual alleging rental liability is a child.

4. Posteligibility (PE)

  1. In PE situations, redevelop rental liability only if the individual's allegation is inconsistent with the information on the SSR or the MSSICS pending file.

    NOTE: Be alert to situations where rental liability may need to be developed for the month after an eligible child turns 18.

  2. Follow SI 00835.120C.1., SI 00835.120C.2., or SI 00835.120C.3. above as appropriate if redevelopment of rental liability is needed.

D. Procedure — full development of rental liability

Use this procedure for initial claims and PE situations if you cannot curtail development under SI 00835.120C. above. Use one of the following methods to document rental liability.

1. Rental Agreement

  1. Obtain a copy of the rental agreement (e.g., a lease).

  2. Record the following rental agreement information on the evidence screen (EVID):

    • who has rental liability;

    • who is the landlord;

    • where the living quarters are; and

    • the amount and frequency of the required rent.

2. Landlord Contact

Contact the landlord and document the information in SI 00835.120D.1.b above on the MSSICS DROC screen or a paper Report of Contact:

3. Rent Receipts

  1. Obtain copies of one or more recent rent receipts which must show:

    • the name of the individual, spouse, or deemor as the person paying the rent;

    • the amount paid;

    • the period covered by the payment; and

    • the signature of the landlord or his/her authorized representative.

  2. Record the above rent receipt information on the EVID screen.

E. Procedure — room rental in a private dwelling

Follow this procedure if there is an allegation of a separate room rental in a private dwelling (e.g., a house or an apartment unit).

1. Separate Household Development

  1. Document the individual's allegation of rental liability using the instructions in
    SI 00835.120D. above.

  2. Document the allegation of separate households.

    • Explain to the individual and the landlord the SSI meaning of “separate household” as described in SI 00835.120A.4. above.

    • Obtain statements signed or on DROC, from both the individual and the landlord as to whether they consider themselves members of the same household or separate households.

    NOTE: If the landlord will not affirm or deny the individual's allegation of separate households, the separate household determination must be based on the individual's allegation and any available evidence. Document on DROC or an RC why the information is not available from the landlord.

  3. Determine whether separate households exist within the dwelling by considering the separate household allegation in relation to factors such as the following.

Household Organization: Although not conclusive by itself, a “yes” answer to any of these questions is an indication that the individual may not be in a separate household within the dwelling.

  • Do the individual and landlord make joint decisions regarding home repairs, improvements, and other aspects of daily activities (e.g., food purchases, TV cable service, phone service)?

  • Is the individual responsible for any bills connected with the operation of the residence (e.g., are any bills in the individual's name)?

  • Do the individual and the landlord pool money for any household expenses?

Rent: Although not conclusive by itself, a“yes” answer to any of these questions is an indication that the individual may be in a separate household.

  • Does the landlord charge rent (or a flat fee for food and shelter) based on the current market value?

  • Would the landlord ask the individual to move out if individual stopped paying rent?

  • Would the landlord continue to hold the individual responsible for back rent if the individual stopped paying rent?

Meals: Although not conclusive by itself, a“yes” answer to any of these questions is an indication that the individual may be in a separate household.

  • Does the individual purchase most of his/her food separately from the rest of the household?

  • Does the individual store food separately from the rest of the household?

  • Does the individual prepare or eat meals separately from the rest of the household?

Access: Although not conclusive by itself, a“yes” answer is an indication that the individualmay be in a separate household.

  • Does the individual have access to only part of the residence?

  • Does the individual have a bedroom, cooking facilities, or a bathroom for his/her exclusive use?

NOTE: The above factors are listed to assist the adjudicator in determining whether separate households exist. Each factor may not apply in every case. No single factor is controlling. The determination must be based on the adjudicator's judgement after considering all of the facts in the case.

  1. If the individual lives in a separate household, determine that rental liability is the LA basis. If the individual does not live in a separate household, determine that rental liability does not exist and proceed with sequential development (SI 00835.001B.).

  2. Document the separate household/rental liability determination in the file.

2. Flat Fee for Food and Shelter

The development for flat fee is essentially the same as for room rental in a private dwelling except for the additional consideration that the individual's payment is a payment for both food and shelter.

  1. Document the allegation of rental liability per SI 00835.120D. above. In addition, document that the individual's payment to the landlord is for food and shelter.

  2. Document the allegation of separate households per SI 00835.120E.1.b. above.

  3. Determine whether separate households exist per SI 00835.120E.1.c. above.

  4. If the individual lives in a separate household, determine that a flat fee for room and board exists and that rental liability is the living arrangement basis. If the individual does not live in a separate household, determine that the individual does not have rental liability and proceed with sequential development.

F. Procedure — shelter for services

Follow these steps if the individual alleges that the landlord accepts services in lieu of cash payment for rent.

  • Determine that the individual does not have rental liability if the individual alleges that the required rent is services only (SI 00835.390).

  • Determine that the individual has rental liability if the alleged rent payment consists partly of services and partly of cash.

  • Document that rental liability exists using curtailed or full development as appropriate.

G. Examples

EXAMPLE 1: Separate Households in a Private Dwelling

Mr. Smith, an eligible individual, lives with a family. Mr. Smith rents an upstairs bedroom and bathroom for $200 per month. Mr. Smith tells the CR that he considers himself to be living in a separate household from the family. He tells the CR that he eats some of his meals in restaurants. The landlord states that Mr. Smith does not pool his money with the family's for food and utility bills or pay any money toward property taxes or household repairs. Mr. Smith is allowed to make local phone calls but pays for any long distance calls he makes. He frequently uses the family's kitchen to prepare his own food which he stores on a shelf reserved for him in the family's refrigerator. Based on the facts in this case, the CR determines that Mr. Smith is living in a separate household and documents the file as required. The CR determines that Mr. Smith has rental liability based on “room rental in a private dwelling.”

EXAMPLE 2: Not Separate Households

Ms. Jones, an aged individual, lives with her brother, Mr. White, in a home he owns. Ms. Jones signs a statement that she considers herself a separate household and pays $200 a month rent to her brother each month. To determine whether Ms. Jones' payment is actually a rent payment, the CR proceeds to develop whether Ms. Jones is in a separate household. The CR discovers that Ms. Jones pays $200 per month most of the year, but pays more in the winter when utility bills are higher. Ms. Jones states that she and her brother each put $125 in a drawer on the first of the month and use this money for groceries. They take turns shopping and cooking, and if the grocery money runs out before the end of the month, they both contribute additional money. Mr. White confirms this information and tells the CR that the amount his sister pays is based on what it costs to operate the home. Based on all the facts, the CR determines that Ms. Jones and Mr. White are not in separate households operating as separate economic units. Therefore, the CR rules out rental liability and flat fee, and proceeds with sequential development per SI 00835.001B.

H. References


To Link to this section - Use this URL:
http://policy.ssa.gov/poms.nsf/lnx/0500835120
SI 00835.120 - Rental Liability as LA Basis - 09/16/2014
Batch run: 09/16/2014
Rev:09/16/2014