Frequently Asked Questions About the Section 8 Program

WHAT TYPES OF HOUSING QUALIFY FOR THE SECTION 8 PROGRAM VOUCHERS?

In most situations, there are no specific requirements that must be met regarding the types of housing that recipients can choose to rent. Tenants can choose a home that fits all their needs in whichever neighborhood they prefer.

Recipients of the assistance should choose a home that complies with health and sanitary standards that also meet the rent amount limitations set by the PHA. Section 8 tenants can rent any type of home. For instance, single-family homes, duplexes, apartments, and condos all qualify.  

ARE THERE ANY LOCATION RESTRICTIONS FOR SECTION 8 HOUSING?

Typically, each PHA operates within a certain location, which means that recipients of the help must search for affordable housing in that area. This also helps tenants to find a home that is in a safe, crime-free neighborhood and is not subject to various issues such as flooding, sewage hazards, air pollution and more.

ARE THERE RENTAL COST AMOUNT LIMITS ON A PROPERTY?

The Public Housing Authorities often set a rent amount limit in order to make sure that the cost of rent is similar to the rent paid for non-Section 8 units in the area. The rental unit will not be approved if the rent costs more than 40 percent of the tenant’s income.

WHO RECEIVES PRIORITY FOR SECTION 8 ASSISTANCE?

Although the priority may change depending on the PHA and the location, there is typically priority awarded to certain groups of applicants. This includes veterans, homeless applicants, families with children or elderly members and individuals with disabilities. These applicants may receive assistance sooner than other applicants on the list.

HOW LONG IS THE WAITLIST FOR SECTION 8?

Because of how in-demand the Section 8 program is, there is generally a waitlist that applicants must be placed in after their applications are approved.

The waitlist time can range from a few months to even 10 years or more. Waitlists also close and reopen frequently, so ensure that the applications are being accepted before applying.

IS THE PUBLIC HOUSING AUTHORITY INVOLVED IN THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN TENANT AND LANDLORD?

In most situations, the PHA does not intervene with handling matters and responsibilities related to the rental unit. That is the responsibility of the tenant and landlord to handle. However, if more serious problems occur, the PHA may provide some assistance.

WHAT ARE MY RESPONSIBILITIES AS A TENANT/RECIPIENT?

Recipients who qualify for and receive vouchers through the Housing Choice Voucher Program have certain responsibilities that they must meet in order to continue receiving assistance. These responsibilities must be upheld for the benefit of tenants, landlords and PHA. For instance, the tenant family must:

  • Allow the PHA to inspect the rental unit whenever necessary.
  • Keep the PHA updated on income and other eligibility requirement changes.
  • Pay the portion of rent that is not covered by the voucher regularly and on time.
  • Repair any damage to the rental unit caused by the tenant family when necessary.
  • Keep the property in good condition and intentionally cause damage.

WHAT ARE THE RESPONSIBILITIES OF THE PUBLIC HOUSING AUTHORITY?

The Public Housing Authority in each area also has responsibilities they must adhere to. They are responsible for determining the eligibility of all applicants, inspecting rental units before a family can move in and calculating the total amount of Section 8 assistance the tenants will receive.

The PHA is responsible for contacting the applicants to schedule interviews and request additional information. In addition, they will also make provide the voucher payment directly to the landlord.

WHAT ARE MY RESPONSIBILITIES AS A LANDLORD?

Landlords that rent units to Section 8 participants have certain obligations that they must abide by. They must screen the tenants and select whichever family they believe is the best fit for their rental unit.

They are also responsible for regularly performing property maintenance, providing necessary supplies and utilities and meeting all requirements set by the PHA. Also, landlords must follow all requirements stated in the lease contract.

HOW LONG DO I HAVE TO STAY IN THE UNIT THAT I RENTED?

In most situations, tenants that are recipients of Section 8 assistance must stay in the rental unit for at least one year. Before moving, tenants must inform the landlord that they wish to end the lease. If the landlord is unaware of the tenants’ desire to move, the lease will be renewed automatically.

CAN I MOVE WHILE I AM RECEIVING SECTION 8 ASSISTANCE?

Yes, Section 8 recipients can move to other cities and states and still receive assistance as long as they follow the correct steps and ensure that they meet the eligibility requirements in the new area. The vouchers are valid anywhere in the United States where a PHA administers the Section 8 program.

In order to move to a different city or state, tenants must move either when the voucher was issued or at the end of the lease, after submitting a 30-day notice to the landlord. In addition, tenants must also notify their Housing Counselor.

Then, the PHA that is currently issuing assistance will send a portability package to the receiving PHA in order to have a change of jurisdiction. Recipients must then meet with the new PHA to determine if all eligibility requirements are met.  

DO I HAVE TO REPORT CHANGES TO MY INCOME, FAMILY SIZE OR ADDRESS?

Any time the information of the tenant changes, an update must be issued to the PHA. This includes changes to your family related to income, size, composition or address. An update must be sent as soon as possible, and supporting documentation must be provided as well. If there is a change to family size, it is important that the landlord is informed as well.

WHAT IF I AM DENIED SECTION 8 HOUSING ASSISTANCE?

A denial letter will be sent to the applicant if he or she was denied for Section 8 assistance. The denial letter will also include the reasoning behind the denial. However, the applicant does have the right to appeal the decision before the deadline stated on the notice.  

HOW DO I APPEAL A SECTION 8 DENIAL?

An appeal can be completed by requesting an informal hearing conducted by an individual who was involved in your Section 8 process but not involved in the actual denial decision. The appeal will also require submitting any relevant documents to the hearing officer in order to present a solid case for why assistance should be given.