Frequently Asked Questions About the Section 8 Program

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1. Which types of housing units are acceptable under the Section 8 program?

Many types of housing units are accepted by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) for the Section 8 program. This includes duplexes, apartments, townhomes, houses, condominiums and even retirement centers. For a unit to be Section 8-approved, it simply must meet sanitation, health and rent limit requirements as determined by the local PHA. Families can choose any HUD-approved unit that fits their needs.

2. Are there restrictions on where Section 8 housing can be located?

Section 8 units can be found in many different neighborhoods. Housing authorities manage different geographic locations within states and decide which properties meet HUD rent and inspection criteria. Thus, the locations of properties are only limited by local PHA requirements. Even under these restrictions, tenants can find homes in safe, crime-free neighborhoods. Residents can rest assured knowing that there are great rentals that are not subject to flooding, poor drainage, polluted air or other types of hazards in the Section 8 program.

3. What is the extent of the Public Housing Authority’s (PHA) involvement in the tenant-landlord relationship?

Under Section 8, property owners and tenants are typically expected to manage their own disputes without PHA involvement. This is because renters sign lease contracts created by landlords, not PHAs. Thus, they are agreeing to abide by the property owner’s rules and expectations. However, the housing authority can get involved if a dispute escalates or if a tenant is breaking HUD rules by failing to make rent payments or destroys property.

4. As a tenant, what are my obligations and responsibilities?

Tenants renting under the Section 8 program have several obligations to meet. These responsibilities are required by both the property owner and the PHA. Renters must:

  • Regularly send updates to their PHA housing counselor about their income and family size.
  • Permit HUD inspectors to examine their unit whenever necessary.
  • Pay their portion of rent on time each month.
  • Not allow unauthorized members to live in the unit.
  • Maintain their property.
  • Make repairs for damages caused by members in the household.

5. What are my duties and responsibilities as a Section 8 housing landlord?

Just like tenants, Section 8 landlords must carry out various responsibilities and obligations. First, landlords are responsible for maintaining the property to HUD inspection standards. Property owners must provide the necessary supplies and utilities as set by their PHA. They must are also obligated to uphold their responsibilities outlined in the leasing contract. Furthermore, landlords have the responsibility of screening potential tenants and selecting the ones they deem as the best fit for their property.

6. What are the responsibilities of the Public Housing Authority?

Public housing authorities have certain responsibilities. Housing authorities are responsible for determining the eligibility of Section 8 applicants. They also calculate how much rental assistance a family is eligible to receive. Furthermore, PHAs must inspect rental units and ensure that they meet HUD standards. Finally, public housing authorities are responsible for making timely housing voucher payments directly to landlords.

7. What is the minimum length of time that I must stay in my current rental unit?

When residents move into a Section 8 rental, they must stay in that chosen tenancy for a certain amount of time. This time limit is usually one year from the start date printed on the lease. However, tenants who want or need to move must communicate their intent with their landlord. They may be able to terminate their lease before the end date. Renters who do not disclose their intentions to move with their property owner will risk automatic lease renewal.

8. Is there a limit to the price of rent that I have to pay?

Public housing agencies typically set rent limits on Section 8 housing units. This is done to ensure that rent paid by Section 8 tenants is similar to that of non-recipients for rentals in the same area. The rent of units must be within a certain range to be accepted by PHAs. Often, tenancies will not be approved by HUD if rent exceeds 40 percent of renters’ incomes.

9. Can I move to another property while receiving Section 8 housing assistance?

Section 8 is a nationwide program and is available in all states. Thus, Section 8 vouchers are accepted wherever a PHA administers the program. However, different PHAs oversee different geographic areas. Therefore, recipients planning to move out of their PHA’s jurisdiction must inform their housing counselor of this expected change. This way, the counselor can send the appropriate information to the beneficiary’s new PHA. The new PHA can then confirm the recipient’s eligibility in the new area.

Furthermore, Section 8 recipients should plan this move when they are first issued their voucher or at the end of their lease. They should inform their landlord at least 30 days in advance to avoid automatic lease renewal.

10. How do I report changes to my family composition, income or address?

Recipients of Section 8 housing benefits are required to submit updates of their income, family size, composition and address to their PHA. They can contact their assigned housing counselor to do so. They must submit documentation supporting the change. Beneficiaries must also inform their landlord if they plan to add new members to the household.

11. I was denied Section 8 assistance. What can I do?

Sometimes, applicants are denied Section 8 assistance benefits. This can be due to various factors. Denied applicants will receive a denial letter in the mail. The letter documents the reasons for why they were denied. Families who do not agree with the decision of the PHA for denial of benefits can request an appeal. However, they have a limited time to be able to do this. The deadline is printed in the letter.

12. What is the Section 8 denial appeals process?

Section 8 applicants denied housing assistance benefits can file for an appeal to contest the decision. Applicants must request to make an appeal at their local public housing authority. The appeal is made in the form of an informal hearing with a representative who was involved in the resident’s application process but in the denial decision. To form a complete case, residents should submit relevant documents to the hearing officer. He or she will review them during the case.

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