Chapter 15 Category 11j Violation(s) of the Vacant Unit Rule Under Reg. 1.42-5(c)(1)(ix)
This category is used to report violations of the Vacant Unit Rule (VUR); i.e., situations where an owner failed to make reasonable attempts to rent that unit, or the next available unit of comparable or smaller size, before renting units to tenants not having a qualifying income.
As part of the requirements for the annual certification, Treas. Reg. §1.42-5(c)(1)(ix) states, “If a low-income unit in the project became vacant during the year, that reasonable attempts were or are being made to rent that unit or the next available unit of comparable or smaller size to tenants having a qualifying income before any units in the project were or will be rented to tenants not having a qualifying income.”
As long as reasonable attempts are being made to rent to qualified low-income households *before renting units to nonqualifying tenants,* vacant LIHC units will continue to be included as qualified low-income units for purposes of determining the minimum set-aside (IRC §42(g)(1)) and calculating the applicable fraction (IRC §42(c)(1)(B)). What constitutes reasonable attempts to rent a vacant unit is based on facts and circumstances, and may differ from project to project depending on factors such as the size and location of the project, tenant turnover rates, and market conditions. Also, the different advertising methods that are accessible to owners and prospective tenants would affect what would be considered reasonable.
Available Low-Income Unit Defined
The definition of an available low-income unit for purposes of the Vacant Unit Rule is the same as used for the Available Unit Rule. Treas. Reg. §1.42-15(c) states that a unit is not available when the unit is no longer available for rent due to contractual arrangements that are binding under local law. See Rev. Rul. 2004-82, Q&A #10.
The definition of a comparable or smaller unit for purposes of the Vacant Unit Rule is the same as used for the Available Unit Rule; i.e., a residential unit that is comparably sized or smaller than the vacated unit. For deep rent skewed projects described in IRC §142(d)(4)(B), any low-income unit is considered a comparable unit. For purposes of determining whether a residential unit is comparably sized, a comparable unit must be measured by the same method used to determine qualified basis for the credit year in which the comparable unit became available. See Treas. Reg. §1.42-15(a). *Since a comparable unit may need to be identified before the end of the year when the qualified basis is determined, an owner may consider a residential unit with *the same number of bedrooms (or fewer)*and *comparable* amenities to be a comparable unit.*
Rev. Rul. 2004-82, Q&A #9, 2004-2 C.B. 350.
Revised October 2009