Section 8 Housing: Basic Info for Landlords

Posted by Teresa on May 10, 2010 under Landlord and Tenant FAQs | icon: commentBe the First to Comment

LandlordTenant-300x199Section 8 is the widely-known term for the U.S. Government’s subsidized housing program, which allows low-income families and individuals to live in affordable and safe privately-owned rental housing. The program’s official name is “Housing Choice,” and it is the government’s major housing assistance program.

How Is Section 8 Housing Different from Public Housing?
Those who receive Housing Choice vouchers find their own apartment, townhouse, or rental home, and the U.S. Government pays a specific portion of their rent. Voucher recipients are not limited to public housing—they are free to choose any rental housing that meets their needs.

How Does Section 8 Rental Housing Work?
To be eligible for Section 8 vouchers, rental units must meet minimum health and safety standards. The local Public Housing Authority (PSA) will inspect the unit to determine whether it meets the standards, and if the rent is within the Fair Market Rent (FMA) for the geographic area and size of the rental unit.

Tenants Pay the Difference Between Benefit and Rent
The PSAA calculates the tenant’s benefit. The tenants may rent a unit exceeding their benefit; they simply pay the difference between the asking rent and the amount that is subsidized. For example, an $800 monthly rent might be eligible for $600 in Section 8 assistance. The tenants would then owe the $200 difference, payable in accordance to the lease’s agreed-upon terms and conditions.

How can I Become a Section 8 Landlord?
Landlords who wish to accept Section 8 vouchers must follow certain guidelines and procedures, and inform the local Housing Authority office of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) of their interest. Vouchers are managed at the local level, and are paid directly to the landlord.

Expectations for Both Landlords and Tenants
Once a Section 8 tenant signs a lease of at least one year, the PSA enters into a contract with the landlord, for the same duration as the lease. The tenants are expected to conform to the lease, pay their share of the rent on time, and keep the rental unit in good condition. Landlords are expected to keep the unit safe and sanitary, and maintain the standards that existed when the contract was signed, as long as he or she received housing assistance payments.

The PSA will monitor the family’s income, inspect the rental unit annually, and make sure the landlord meets his or her obligations. The PSA has the right to terminate rent payments if a landlord fails to do so.

Types of Housing Choice Vouchers:

Conversion Vouchers: These help families move to private housing from public housing that has been demolished or otherwise forced the family out.

Family Unification Vouchers: Help is provided for families to rent affordable housing in order to prevent separating children from parents.

Project Based Vouchers: These encourage rental property owners to rehab or build units in specifically to lease to low-income families.

Tenant Based Vouchers: Provided to low-income tenants to help them rent safe privately-owned housing.

HUD-VASH Vouchers: Rental assistance combined with VA case management services to help low-income homeless veterans.

Vouchers for People with Disabilities: Assists low income families with disabilities.

Welfare-to-Work Vouchers: To assist families transitioning form welfare to self-sufficiency.

Witness Relocation Vouchers: Relocation assistance for witnesses of violent crimes that occur around public, Indian, and other HUD-assisted housing.