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Section 8 Information
 

What is Section 8 Housing

Eligibility for Housing Assistance Under the Section 8 Program

How the Section 8 Program Works

Summary of the Leasing Process

Renting Property to Section 8 Tenants

The Maximum Rent that can be charged

The Security Deposit

Screen the Section 8 Tenants

Lease Form and Content

Property Inspection

Payment of the Tenantís portion of the rent

Late Payment

Eviction

Housing Quality Standards for Existing Housing Used in the Section 8 Program

Overview of Specific Key Roles and Responsibilities of the Section 8 Program

Distribution Percentiles of Section 8 Funding Based on 2001 Data

 

What is Section 8 Housing

 

Section 8 housing is subsidized by the federal government under programs authorized in Section 8 of the U.S. Housing Act of 1937, as amended. Several housing assistance programs exist under Section 8 and generally fall into two broad categories:

 
   

Section 8 project-based assistance, ties the housing subsidy to specific units in specific properties (projects) for which eligible families may apply for residency. The project-based assistance program is generally viewed as a housing production program, in that the commitment of federal subsidy is commonly used as a method of financing the construction of new affordable housing units.

   

The second broad program category is Section 8 tenant-based assistance. In this form of assistance, the housing subsidy is tied to the tenant so that eligible families are guaranteed federal assistance for any housing unit that meets with general program requirements. Currently, the Housing Choice Voucher Program is the primary Section 8 tenant-based assistance program, and the federal governmentís major program of housing assistance for low-income families.

 

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Eligibility for Housing Assistance Under the Section 8 Program

 

The Section 8 Program is limited to U.S. citizens and some categories of non-citizens and is determined based on total annual gross income and family size. In general, the familyís income may not exceed 50% of the median income for the metropolitan area or county in which the family chooses to live.

By law, 75% of available vouchers each year must go to families with income at or below 30% of the area median income (AMI). Median income levels vary by location and are published annually by HUD.

Tenant selection and occupancy policies permit the Property Owners and Housing Authorities to examine an applicantís history, including criminal background, to ensure selection of a responsible tenant. In addition, the Housing Authorities have the power to deny admission or to terminate assistance to individuals with a history of use or abuse of drugs or alcohol, or of criminal behavior that interferes with the peaceful enjoyment of the premises by other residents. Criminal background checks are permissible.

 

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How the Section 8 Program Works

 

In general, the Section 8 tenant-based program works as a rent subsidy to the families Ė allowing families to pay a reasonable share of income for rent with the government making up the difference up to a specific limit.

Families with Section 8 vouchers find their own housing and pay a percentage of their income for rent. Housing Authority pays the property owners the rest of the rent. (Explained more in Payment paragraph below).

A family may choose a unit with a higher rent than the subsidy limit allows and pay the landlord the difference, but cannot generally pay more than 40% of income in moving to a new unit (explained more in the Maximum Rent paragraph below).

In some Public Housing Authorities, it is against the law to refuse to rent to someone just because the person has a Section 8 voucher.

 

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Summary of the Leasing Process

 
   

A family with a current Section 8 voucher views the property and wants to rent it.

   

Then, the property owner screens the tenants to make sure they are suitable per property owner requirements.

   

If the property owner agrees to lease to the tenants, they must contact the Section 8 office for approval. To expedite the process, the tenant can contact the Housing Authority and provide the information about the property as well.

   

The Housing Authority office checks to make sure the family can afford the rent, and that the rent is reasonable compared to other rents in the community, and the lease is acceptable.

   

The Housing Authority sends an inspector to check the property to make sure it meets program standards.

   

If the unit passes inspection, the Housing Authority office sends the property owner a contract to sign.

   

The property owner will then sign the contract with the Housing Authority, and sign the lease with the tenants, and the family moves in.

   

The tenant pays their portion of the rent and the Housing Authority pays the rest. (See the maximum rent guidelines below).

   

If you would like to see the graph chart in regards to the Leasing Process, please click here.

   
 

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Renting Property to Section 8 Tenants

 

If the property owners would like to rent to Section 8 tenants, the property owner can post the property with www.acceptsection8.com or contact the nearest Housing Authority and post the property there. It is against the law in some Housing Authorities to refuse to rent to a prospective tenant, just because the tenant has a Section 8 voucher.

 

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The Maximum Rent that can be charged

 

The rent charged must be reasonable compared to other units of similar size in the community and must meet housing quality standards (HQS). The Housing Authority office will compare the requested rent to their payment standards, which are based in part on the fair market rents (FMR) in a particular city or town.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) sets the FMR annually for each metropolitan and non-metropolitan area of the country, based on census information or similar data on rental housing prices. Units selected by voucher families must be within the subsidy limit established by the payment standard and the FMR.

 
   

A family must not pay more than 40% of adjusted income for rent when the family first receives Section 8 tenant-based assistance for occupancy of a particular unit.

   

If rent is to be increased the rent upon renewing the lease, the Housing Authority must approve. The rent must remain reasonable and within the family's ability to pay, otherwise the Housing Authority will not approve it.

   
 

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The Security Deposit

 

The property owner must collect the security deposit from the tenant. The Housing Authority (Section 8 program) has no responsibility for damages, unpaid tenant rent, or other claims against the tenant. The maximum security deposit a property owner may collect is one month's rent.

 

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Screen the Section 8 Tenants

 

The property owners must do the screening themselves, just as they would for non-Section 8 tenants. The Housing Authority does not screen Section 8 tenants for property owners. Section 8 tenants should be required to fill out the application and then researched. There are many services available to help screen tenants. These services can check to see if the prospective tenant has a criminal record, been evicted, or bad credit. When checking references, always contact the previous landlord as well as the current landlord, because the current landlord may want the tenants to move out.

The Housing Authority will able to tell property owners the records of the tenant, current and previous address, and current and previous landlord. Some Housing Authorities will also share any other information they have. However, the Housing Authority's main concern is checking that the applicant meets the income limits and other Section 8 eligibility requirements. Screening the tenant is the landlord's responsibility.

 

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Lease Form and Content

 

Property owners must sign a lease with the tenant for a minimum of one year. The lease should contain:

 
   

The names of the landlord and tenant.

   

The address of the rental property.

   

Term of the lease and how it will be renewed.

   

Monthly rent amount.

   

Who pays the utilities.

   

What appliances are included in the property.

   

Tenancy Addendum must be included. Click here to download the Tenancy Addendum.

   

Property owners may include any other conditions that would normally be included in leases, as long as they do not violate any laws.

   
 

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Property Inspection

 

The property will be inspected to make sure that it meets the housing standards of the Section 8 program.

 
   

The inspector will examine the exterior of the building, the plumbing and heating systems, the exits and hallways, and each room of your property to make sure the unit is safe, clean, and in good condition. The unit must be vacant at the time of the first inspection, and all utilities must be turned on. The inspector must have access to the unit itself, the basement, and all common areas.

   

The inspector uses a checklist form provided by HUD, the federal agency in charge of the Section 8 program. For each item on the list, the inspector marks if the unit passes or fails. If repairs are needed, the inspector marks this on the form. You can download the inspection check list by clicking here.

   

A family will not be allowed to rent your property until you have made any needed repairs and the unit passes the inspection. The property will be re-inspected each year. If problems are found, you must make repairs within the time selected or else Housing Authority will stop payments.

   
 

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Payment of the Tenantís portion of the rent

 

Tenants will be responsible for their portion of the rent each month. Below are general calculations for how much the tenantís portion will be:

 
   

A family renting a unit below the payment standard pays as gross rent the highest of: (1) 30% of monthly adjusted income; (2) 10% of monthly gross income; (3) the welfare rent; or (4) the PHA-established statutory minimum rent.

   

A family renting a unit above the payment standard pays as gross rent the highest of the above, plus any rent above the payment standard.

   
 

The Housing Authority will send the property owner a check for their portion of the rent each month. They will continue to do so as long as the tenant remains eligible for Section 8 and the property meets the Section 8 program standards. The property owner is responsible for collecting the tenant portion of the rent each month.

The Housing Authority may refuse to enter into new payment contracts with owners who refuse to evict families for drug-related, violent criminal, or other activities that threaten the rights of other tenants, PHA employees, owner employees or neighbors.

 

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Late Payment

 

Property owners must sign a lease with the tenant for a minimum of one year. The lease should contain:

 
   

Any late payment penalties may only be imposed in accordance with generally accepted practices in the local housing market governing penalties for late payment of rent by a tenant.

   

Future Housing Authority Payment contracts will provide for penalties against the Housing Authority for late payments to the property owner.

   

The Housing Authority may add Housing Authority Payment contract Housing Authority is deemed received by the owner.

   

A late payment fee may only be paid from the Housing Authority administrative fee income.

   

The Housing Authority is not obligated to pay any late fee if HUD determines that the late payment is due to factors beyond control of the Housing Authority.

   

The Housing Authority is not responsible for tenantís late payment.

 

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Eviction

 

The property owner may evict a Section 8 tenant in the same way a non-Section 8 tenant would be evicted. The same laws apply.

 

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Housing Quality Standards for Existing Housing Used in the Section 8 Program

Sanitary: The proposed unit will include a flush toilet, affixed basin and a tub or a shower with hot and cold running water, all in good operating condition, can be used in privacy and are adequate for personal cleanliness and the disposal of human waste.

Food Preparation: A cooking stove or range, a refrigerator, a kitchen sink with hot and cold running water in good operating condition. Adequate space for the storage, preparation and serving of food shall be provided. There shall be adequate facilities and services for the sanitary disposal of food waste.

Space and Security: The proposed unit will contain a living room, kitchen, bathroom and at least one bedroom or living; sleeping room for each two persons. Exterior doors and windows accessible from outside the unit will be lockable. All windows will have screens.

Illumination and Electricity: Living and sleeping rooms will include a minimum of one window. A ceiling or wall type light fixture will be present in bathroom and kitchen. At least two electric outlets, one may be an overhead light, and operable in the living room, kitchen, and each bedroom.

Structure, Design, and Materials: Ceilings, walls, and floors will not have any defects such as severe budging or leaning, large holes, loose surface materials, or other serious damage. The roof will be firm and weather tight. The exterior wall structure and surface will not have any serious defects such as serious leaning, buckling, sagging, cracks or holes, loose siding, or other serious damages. The condition and equipment of exterior and interior stairways, halls, porches, walkways, etc will be free of tripping or falling dangers. Elevators will be maintained in safe and operating order.

Interior Air Quality: The dwelling unit will be free from dangerous levels of pollution from carbon monoxide, sewer gas, fuel gas, dust, and other harmful air pollutants. Air circulation will be adequate throughout the unit. Bathroom areas will have at least one operable window or other adequate exhaust ventilation.

Water Supply: The unit will be served by approved public or private water supply.

Access: The unit will be usable and capable of being maintained without unauthorized use of private properties. The building shall provide an alternative exit in case of fire.

Site and Neighborhood: The site and neighborhood will not be subject to dangerous walks, steps, instability, flooding, poor drainage, septic tank back ups, sewage hazards or mud slides; abnormal air pollution, smoke or dust, excessive accumulation, etc.

If you would like to download the HQS Inspection checklist, please click here.

 

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Specific Key Roles and Responsibilities of the Section 8 Program

1

Congress

 
   

Pass housing legislation funding

2

HUD (Housing and Urban Development)

 
   

Develop policy and regulations that interpret housing legislation.

   

Allocate housing assistance funds.

   

Provide technical assistance and training to Housing Authorities.

   

Monitor Housing Authorities compliance with program rules and goals

   

3

The Housing Authorityís responsibilities include

 
   

Advise eligible tenants of the housing standards, inspection provision and property owner tenant responsibilities.

   

Encourage property owners to participate in the Housing Choice Voucher Program.

   

Inspect and approve units for rent, and inspect annually thereafter.

   

Mailing housing subsidy payments to property owners.

   

Administer and enforce contracts with property owners, including taking appropriate action when there is non-compliance or default.

   

Comply with federal and local rules.

   

4

The property ownerís responsibilities include

 
   

Screen, select and lease to tenants.

   

Performing maintenance, management responsibilities, and renting functions.

   

Paying utilities and services not the responsibility of the tenant.

   

Collecting tenant rents and enforcing the lease.

   

Comply with the housing assistance payment contract and lease.

   

5

The tenantís responsibilities include

 
   

Provide the Housing Authority information to determine subsidy eligibility.

   

Find housing that meets housing and rent payment standards.

   

Submit a copy of the proposed lease agreement with the property owner to the Housing Authority. Upon approval, the tenant enters into the lease agreement with the owner.

   

Pay tenant share of the rent on time.

   

Maintain the unit and keep it in good condition.

   

Notify the Housing Authority of changes in income or family size.

 

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Distribution Percentiles of Section 8 Funding Based on 2001 Data

1

Distribution Based on Family Type

 
   

53% are families with dependents

   

23% are people with disabilities under age 62

   

17% are people with disabilities over age 62

   

7% are families without dependents

   

2

Distribution Based on Head of Household Race

 
   

54% are White

   

42% are Black

   

3% are Asian/Pacific Islander

   

1% are American Indian/Alaska Native

   

3

Distribution Based on Average Annual Income

 
   

59% are below 30% Median Income

   

23% are between 30%-50% Median Income

   

5.0% are between 50%-80% Median Income

   

1.0% are Above Low Income

   

12% are unavailable

   

4

Distribution Based on the Source of Income

 
   

48% receive SSI or pension

   

22% receive any general assistance or TANF

   

40% with wages

   

20% with other income

   

 

If you would like to see the graph chart in regards to the Section 8 distribution, please click here.

 

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Last Updated Listings: "March 17, 2014"