Frequently Asked Questions: Section 8 Housing Program

Where do I apply for the Section 8 Housing program?

The Section 8 housing program is an initiative by of the federal government provided through the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development. However, applicants do not need to visit the HUD offices in order to register for the program. Potential applicants can apply through the local public housing authority offices which are located in almost every state and county. There are several designated public housing agencies and non-profit organizations that assist in application for assistance in local area.

How long does it take to get my Section 8 voucher after a successful application?

In most cases, the Section 8 voucher programs are oversubscribed and the waiting lists are closed for application. For this reason, a Section 8 application may take unpredictably long before recipients can receive a voucher. Candidates can confirm waiting times from the local public housing authority.

What happens if I am successfully chosen for the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher?

Eligible candidates for Section 8 housing will be notified through email and be briefed about the requirements of the program. Based on a family’s needs, a Section 8 voucher will be issued and afterwards the family will have 60 days to find a rental apartment. Before Section 8 eligible candidates are allowed to occupy the place, they will complete a Request for Tenancy Approval which will be used to approve the location.

What happens if I have a Section 8 voucher and choose an apartment that charges higher rent than the fair market rent rates of established by HUD?

HUD does not limit applicants on the houses they choose if they are a Section 8 voucher holder. However, Section 8 participants will be responsible for the additional excess rent charged by the landlord. HUD determines the fair market rent for the same housing unit and any excess rent charged will be settled by the tenant.

Will I be required to pay a security deposit?

Most Section 8 landlords require the tenant to pay a security deposit before they move into the apartments. If the agent or owner requires that a Section 8 participant pay a security deposit, then the participant must do so. However, the amount of deposit should not be more than a month’s rent. In some instances, the Section 8 program will also cover this.

How long can I stay in the apartment I choose if I am using a Section 8 subsidy voucher?

The Section 8 lease agreement offered by the landlord should be a lease enduring at least one year. After the end of the first year, the landlord may decide to renew the Section 8 lease or initiate a monthly lease agreement.

Should I notify the housing authority if my income changes?

Concerning Section 8, it is very important to notify the housing authority or property owner if there is change in income of any member of the household. Documentation must be submitted within thirty days of such change so that the portion of income paid for rent is reviewed. Failure to provide the notification could lead to loss of subsidies, and the Section 8 tenant may be required to pay additional back-dated charges.

What happens if my family composition changes?

The Section 8 lease agreement list contains all the people that live in the apartment and applicants must agree with the landlord in writing when removing or adding a new person in the household. Section 8 landlords are not obligated to allow this, however, unless it is through birth, foster care or adoption.

When can my Section 8 rent amount be changed?

If your income changes, you will be issued with a notice of change in Section 8 payments. A Section 8 landlord may also change the rent fee during the re-certification of the lease. Notice should be provided three months before the Section 8 rent is raised.

What if I don’t find a new place to rent 90 days after the notice is issued?

Should a Section 8 participant fail to find another apartment for rent 90 days after the notice of raise is issued, he or she will have another 60 days to do a search. In this case, the Section 8 participant will have to pay the increased rent amount or stay elsewhere while looking for a new housing unit. After the end of the 60 days, participants can ask for another extension as they search.

Can I move to another Section 8 rental house with the voucher?

Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher is portable and can be used anywhere in the United States. It can be moved at the initial time of issuance or at the end of a lease. A 30-day notice must be issued to the landlord before the movement.

Can a landlord deny housing if I have Section 8 Voucher?

A landlord is not allowed to give priority of tenancy against voucher holders as long as they meet the occupancy requirements. It is illegal for a private house owner to refuse to rent a house on the basis that they do not accept vouchers.

What happens if I choose a Project-Based Section 8 Voucher program?

The downside of Project-Based Section 8 program is that the subsidy voucher is tied to the rental apartment where the applicant lives. Should a Section 8 participant move out of the apartment, the subsidy does not move with the participant but remains with the rental unit.

What if I suspect that my landlord is charging more than fair market rate?

If a Section 8 participant suspects that the landlord is charging higher rent as compared to similar units in the building or neighborhood, gather evidence and document this information. The Section 8 applicant can give this information to the Housing Authority which can then be used to prove that the Section 8 landlord is charging “unreasonable” rent.

Can my Section 8 landlord be compelled to lower the rent if the fee is very high?

The landlord cannot be forced to lower the Section 8 rent, but he or she can do so willingly. The Housing Authority may intervene and ask the landlord to lower the rent to the fair market rate of the area. Should the landlord refuse to lower the rent, he or she can be with withdrawn from the program by the housing authority.

Can the Section 8 program vouchers be used to pay mortgage?

The most recent development for Section 8 is that one can use it to pay for mortgages, especially the first-time home buyer. There are qualifications that the first-time homebuyer must meet in order to be allowed by the housing authority to use the funds for a mortgage.