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Your Guide to the Section 8 Program and Rentals

Whether you live in Section 8 housing or a non-subsidized apartment or town home, you need to follow many important rules to maintain a positive relationship with your landlord.

These rules typically pertain to noise, pets, cleanliness and complying with the terms of your lease. If you fail to follow these rules, your landlord may evict you from the property, increase your rent or take legal action.

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However, rules for Section 8 rentals are slightly different, as failure to follow these requirements could disqualify you from receiving Housing Choice Vouchers and participating in other government assistance programs.

To maintain good standing in the Housing Choice Voucher Program, it is important to familiarize yourself with the various rules and regulations you must follow, such as the number of household members you can live with in a single Section 8 property.

When completing your Section 8 application, you must list each additional household member who plans to live with you, as the size of your family will affect your eligibility, voucher amount and the type of the rental unit you qualify for.

To learn more about these rules, review the information below.

Learn About Section 8 Housing Rules and Requirements for Program Participants

When you live in a Section 8 rental, you must follow your landlord’s rules as well as the requirements of your local Public Housing Authority (PHA), or you could be disqualified from participating in the Section 8 program or receiving other types of rental assistance through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

To apply for Section 8 rentals through your local PHA, you and your other household members must also follow several important housing rules, or you could face severe consequences such as imprisonment and costly fines.

If you knowingly provide false or misleading information on your application for rental assistance, you will be committing fraud.

When applying for Section 8 rental housing assistance through your local PHA, for instance, you must include the names and personal details of everyone who plans to live in the unit with you, as these additional household members will affect your Section 8 eligibility, income limit and benefit amount.

You must also include the following individuals on your application, even if they will not permanently reside in the rental unit with you:

  • Unborn children
  • Children who are temporarily residing in a foster home
  • Children who reside with you at least 50 percent of the time as the result of a joint custody arrangement
  • Children who are attending school away from home
  • Family members temporarily residing in hospitals or rehabilitation centers

While your Section 8 housing application must include the names and personal details of each family member or everyone who plans to live in the rental property with you, several types of household members will not affect your income limits for program eligibility.

These household members include live-in aides, guests, foster children and foster adults.

How to Complete Your Section 8 Housing Application

Whether you complete a Section 8 housing application online application, or you apply for rental assistance in person or by mail, it is important to gather several pieces of information about you and your other household members before getting started.

When completing your application, you must be able to provide accurate information about your:

  • Sources of income. This includes earned and unearned income for you and any other household members, such as wages, government benefits, pensions, retirement pay or Social Security payments.
  • Child support payments. If you receive additional income as the result of child support payments, you must include these amounts on your application for housing assistance. Additional sources of income that may affect your Section 8 housing eligibility include Social Security payments for children or any benefits you receive through Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC).
  • Increases in income. If your household income increases in the future, or you expect to receive a pay raise through your job, you must immediately report these changes to your PHA.
  • Household assets. When completing your Section 8 application, you must provide the total amount of your bank accounts, owned real estate, savings bonds, stock dividends or any other assets that you and your household members own.

To apply for Section 8 rental assistance, you must contact your local PHA to begin the application process. As part of the application process, you must provide the above information as well as the names and Social Security Numbers (SSNs) of any additional household members.

Learn About Personal Finances Calculators

PHAs can take a long time to decipher whether you and your household are eligible. If you want to find out if you fall with the income bracket for your area, you may use the calculators below to help you.

What are the consequences of committing Section 8 Housing fraud?

To remain on the Section 8 housing list, you must only provide truthful information on your application for rental assistance. If you knowingly provide false or misleading information, you could face eviction from your rental property, fines of up to $10,000 and as many as five years in prison.

Additional consequences may include:

  • The repayment of any fraudulent rental assistance you received
  • Penalties set forth by your state and local government
  • Failure to receive financial assistance in the future

Moreover, it is important to protect yourself from housing assistance scams when applying for Section 8 vouchers.

To protect yourself from becoming the victim of a housing scam, do not pay money to move up on the waiting list, and do not hire another individual or company to apply for benefits on your behalf.

As a tenant of Section 8 housing, what are my obligations?

After submitting your Section 8 housing application to your local PHA and moving to the top of the waiting list, you must select a reasonable rental unit that meets basic safety and security standards.

Additionally, your local PHA must inspect the property before approving it. In some cases, you may need to pay a security deposit as well, but specific requirements vary by PHA and landlord.

Before moving into your Section 8 rental, you must sign a lease of at least one year. After your first year of renting the property, your landlord may allow you to rent the unit on a month-to-month basis.

As part of your leasing agreement, you must agree to keep the rental property in good condition, pay your rent on time and report any changes in your household income as soon as these changes occur.

Depending on the rules and requirements set forth by your landlord and local PHA, you may need to comply with additional terms as well.