Frequently Asked Questions About the Section 8 Program

  1. What types of housing units can participate in the Section 8 program?

    In general, there are no special Section 8 requirements regarding housing type. Tenants are free to choose a home that fits their needs, complies with health and sanitary standards and meets the rent amount limits set by the PHA. Thus, Section 8 tenants can rent duplexes, apartments, family houses and condominiums.

  2. Are there any restrictions on Section 8 housing locations?

    Each Public Housing Authority operates within an assigned location, and program participants may need to look for affordable housing within that location. This enables tenants to find a home that is not subject to flooding, poor drainage, sewage hazards, air pollution or other types of instability, in a safe, crime-free neighborhood.

  3. Is the Public Housing Authority involved in the tenant-landlord relationship?

    Typically, tenants and landlords are responsible for handling all matters and responsibilities related to the rental unit on their own. However, if the tenant or landlord is facing more serious problems, such as eviction or destruction of property, the PHA may provide assistance.

  4. What are my obligations as a tenant?

    Tenants who are renting a home under the Housing Choice Voucher Program have responsibilities towards both the landlord and the Section 8 rental unit. Thus, the tenant family must agree to:

    • Send regular updates on income and eligibility to the PHA.

    • Pay their portion of the rent regularly.

    • Allow the PHA to inspect the unit whenever necessary.

    • Repair any damages caused by family members.

    • Maintain the property and not destroy it.

  5. What are my obligations as a landlord?

    If you are a landlord renting a unit to Section 8 participants, you also have various obligations. You are required to screen the tenants and select the family that you believe is the best choice. You must also perform regular property maintenance, provide the necessary supplies and utilities and meet all requirements set by the PHA, as well as those stated in the lease contract.

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

    The PHA is responsible for determining the eligibility of the applicants, inspecting the rental units before a family moves in and calculating the amount of rental assistance the tenants will receive. The PHA also makes the voucher rental payment directly to the landlord.

  7. How long am I obliged to stay in the unit that I rented?

    In general, you must stay in the rental unit at least one year. If you would like to move, you must inform your landlord in advance in order to end the lease. If you do not report your intentions to the landlord, your lease will be renewed automatically.

  8. Are there rental amount limitations placed on a property?

    Public Housing Authorities can set a rent amount limit in order to make sure that the rent amount is similar to the rent paid for non-Section 8 units in the area. The PHA will not approve a rental unit if the rent cost exceeds 40 percent of the tenant's income.

  9. What happens if I move while I am on Section 8 assistance?

    Section 8 vouchers are valid anywhere in the country where a PHA administers the Section 8 program. If you would like to move to a different city or state, you must move either when your voucher was issued or at the end of your lease, after you have submitted a 30-day notice to your landlord. You must also notify your Housing Counselor, after which the PHA in your area will send a portability package to the receiving PHA in order to place you under its jurisdiction. To initiate the process, you must make a special appointment with your new PHA in order to determine whether you meet its eligibility requirements.

  10. How can I report changes in my family's size, address or income?

    If there are any changes in your family related to income, size, composition or address, you must update your information with the PHA as soon as possible. You will be required to provide supporting documentation, and you will have to inform your landlord if you would like to add new members to your household.

  11. What happens if I am denied Section 8 assistance?

    If the PHA decides that you are not eligible for a Section 8 housing voucher, you will receive a denial letter stating the reasons behind the decision. However, you have the right to appeal the decision before the deadline stated on the document.

  12. How can I appeal a Section 8 denial?

    If you were denied assistance by the PHA, you can file an appeal to contest the decision. You must request an informal hearing conducted by an individual who was involved in your Section 8 process but not in the denial decision. Also, you must submit all relevant documents to the hearing officer, who will review them as you present your case.