About Section 8 Program
The Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher Rental Assistance Program
- Program Eligibility
- Waiting List Placement
- What are the requirements for my unit to be rented to an assisted family?
- Request for Tenancy Approval
- Inspection & Rent
- Lease & Contract
- Security Deposit
- What is the term of the lease & contract?
- Improvements – Repairs – Maintenance – Notices
- Sale of the Property
The Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher Rental Assistance Program
The Section 8 Tenant-Based Housing Choice Voucher Rental Assistance Program is authorized by Section 8 of the U. S. Housing Act of 1937 and the Quality Work and Housing Responsibility Act of 1998. The funds for this program are provided by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).
The purpose of the program is to provide rental assistance to low income households to allow them to rent safe, decent, and sanitary housing. The Section 8 Tenant-Based Housing Choice Voucher Program is available throughout the United States and is operated by public Housing Authorities. This program is also operated by the Pottsville Housing Authority, Pottsville, Pennsylvania.
To be eligible, applicants must be:
- A household containing: (a) Head or spouse with a long-term disability; (b) Head or spouse who is at least 62 years of age; (c) Family consisting of one or more related or unrelated adults who have established a stable relationship; or (d) Any other single adult.
- Be receiving a total gross income within the limits established by HUD.
Annual Income is the gross amount of income anticipated to be received by all of the family members during the next twelve months after the date of application.
Waiting List Placement
Section 8 Assistance is based on waiting list placement. Waiting list placement is determined by date and time of application along with preference points awarded.
Applicants are awarded one point for each of the following:
- Involuntarily Displaced by Government Action
- Involuntarily Displaced by Fire/Natural Disaster
- City Working Family
- In Job Training or Education Family
- City Residency
- Displacement by Domestic Violence to Avoid Reprisals or by Hate Crimes
What are the requirements for my unit to be rented to an assisted family?
Reasonable Rent or Rent Reasonableness is certified by the PHA for each household that is subsidized. What this means is that the rent cannot be more for a subsidized unit than it would be for an unsubsidized unit, comparable in size, amenities and geographical location.
There must also be a valid lease between the tenant and landlord and a Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) Contract executed between the landlord and PHA.
The program determines the payment standard which is used to calculate the household’s subsidy in the Rental Voucher Program. The Fair Market Rent (FMR) Payment Standard is set by HUD and is based on the Area that the unit is in. Payment Standards are adjusted to address the cost of housing in each county or locality.
Request for Tenancy Approval (RTA)
When you have selected a tenant, he/she will have a “Request for Tenancy Approval” form for you to complete. The RTA will contain all the information about the rental unit that the PHA will require to determine whether or not a subsidy can be provided for that particular unit. The tenant and landlord must sign and date this form before being submitted to PHA. When the tenant submits the form to our office, a housing representative will contact you to schedule an inspection.
Inspection & Rent
The unit will be inspected to insure that it meets HUD’s Housing Quality Standards (HQS). If there are any violations discovered during the inspection, you will be notified in writing of what the violations are and be given a deadline to complete the repairs. The subsidy will not begin until the unit meets all HQS requirements. No retro-active payments may be made for the time period before the unit passed inspection.
Rent must be approvable within HUD Fair Market Rents (FMR) and market rate comparable.
Lease & Contract
The landlord must provide written documentation that verifies that the landlord legally owns the property or the landlord has the legal right to rent it out. After the unit passes inspection and the rent has been approved, the landlord and tenant enter into a lease for an initial term of one year. The Housing Authority and the landlord also sign a Housing Assistance Payments Contract through which the rent is assisted on behalf of the tenant.
What is the term of the lease & contract?
After one year, the lease is renewed for a specified time period (ex. month-to-month, six months, etc.). The tenant may vacate with a notice after the initial term of the lease expires. If the tenant remains in the unit, the tenant is recertified for eligibility and the unit is inspected for Housing Quality Standards annually.
The landlord may request an annual adjustment rent increase which must be approved by the Housing Authority. This request must be submitted in writing to the Housing Authority and tenant thirty (30) days prior to renewal.
Improvements – Repairs – Maintenance – Notices
- Make sure the lease requires that the tenant agrees not to alter, redecorate or make repairs/improvements to the dwelling without first obtaining written permission from the landlord.
- Never ignore a tenant’s request for repairs that involve habitability of the property.
- Never ask the tenants to take on more maintenance than they can handle (lawn mowing, snow removal, etc.). The only way to assure that things are done when they are supposed to be, and done correctly, is to do them yourself.
- It should be included in your lease that any notices between the landlord and tenant be put in writing. This will document all communications between parties. Signed receipts should be given for all rent received and security deposits.
- Although the PHA performs an annual HQS inspection, the landlord should visit the unit on a regular basis so that any small problems that may be evident do not turn into bigger problems. This can be done in a couple of ways, by personally collecting the rent or by writing into the lease that a quarterly walk through inspection will be done or any other reason provided the tenant is given prior notice and it is not intrusive or illegal.
What are my rights & responsibilities as a landlord?
- Maintain your property in good condition. Complete repairs within a reasonable amount of time upon request by the Housing Authority or tenant; 24 hours for emergencies. The amount of time that is considered reasonable depends on the nature of the problem. Usually thirty (30) days or any approved extension by the Housing Authority.
- Set reasonable rules about the use of the unit and common areas.
- Except for emergencies or tenant’s requested repairs, do not enter a unit without the tenant’s permission and/or proper notice.
- Collect appropriate security deposit as directed under the program and use it only as directed by law.
- Comply with equal housing opportunity requirements.
- Enforce tenant obligations under the lease.
- Expect your tenants to:
- Pay rent on time.
- Keep unit clean.
- Avoid illegal activities.
- Permit access for repairs.
- Avoid damage to property.
- Refrain from disturbing others.
- Allow only those occupants on the lease to reside in the unit.
- Comply with terms and conditions of the lease and HAP contract.
- Take action through District Court to evict when tenant violates the lease.
The first thing a landlord has to understand when they encounter a problem serious enough to start thinking about evicting a tenant is that he/she is the one who has to take action to remedy the situation. PHA, while providing the subsidy on behalf of the tenant, is not responsible for the behavior of the tenant. They did not choose the tenant or put them in the unit and PHA has no legal authority to take any action on behalf of the landlord regarding the termination of the lease and ultimately the removal of the tenant. PHA will work with the landlord to persuade the tenant to live up to the terms of the lease they signed. However, the Section 8 Program has no authority or ability to remove the tenant. After all other options have been exhausted, and you feel that you need to remove the tenant, the last resort is eviction. An eviction is the only legal remedy you have to remove a tenant that has failed to live up to the terms of the lease and who refused to leave voluntarily.
Self-Help evictions or an eviction where you forcefully and physically remove a tenant from your property is illegal and may lead to the tenant taking legal action against you. The only legal way to evict someone is through a COURT ORDERED eviction.
Landlords should also send copies of all notices and summons to the PHA so that they are aware of the situation. This is also important because PHA is paying a portion of the tenant rent and there have been cases where the eviction was “thrown out” of court because the Housing Authority was not notified. This happens mostly if the tenant has retained an attorney. If this were to happen, the landlord would have to refile the eviction, costing them more time and money. Therefore, it is important that PHA is supplied with copies of any correspondence between tenant and landlord.
Sale of the Property
Entering into a HAP Contract does not prohibit the landlord from selling the property at anytime. However, the landlord has a responsibility to PHA to notify them of the sale ahead of time so that a new contract can be made with the new owner. As with most things, the earlier, the better. When the sale of the property is certain, the owner must contact the PHA. Be prepared to give the name, address, phone number, and if possible, the tax identification number of the proposed buyer. The new owner should also contact PHA to arrange for a Section 8 landlord briefing.
The PHA will prepare a New Lease Addendum and give it to the current owner to have it executed at the settlement of the sale. Once that form, a signed W-9 tax form and verification of the property transfer is returned to the PHA, the information will be forwarded to the PHA accounting department to make the necessary changes for sending payments.