Tenants who receive Section 8 housing choice vouchers are obligated to follow several rules for the continuation of their vouchers. The responsibilities imposed upon them under Section 8 assistance are always in addition to the compulsions they already have under their respective State tenancy laws.
Tenants with Section 8 rent assistance must obey the provisions of their landlord’s lease, or the Authority may terminate their assistance. Thus, it is stressed to Voucher-holders that they must pay their contribution of the rent on time, maintain tidiness, avert any damage to the dwelling, forbid occupancy of the residence by unauthorized people, and not disturb neighbors, etc.
Once Section 8 approves an eligible family’s lease and housing unit, the family and the landlord sign a lease and, at the same time, the property owner and the local Housing Authority sign a housing assistance contract valid for the same term as the lease. This could translate as the client, the landlord and the Housing Authority have commitments and responsibilities within the rental voucher program
Here is the list of mandatory tasks, in detail, one has to complete as a Section 8 participant;
- Finding an Eligible Accommodation
In certain cases, the Section 8 program pays a major portion of a tenant’s monthly rent but the tenant has to find a private residence himself, one that fulfills the eligibility criterion of the program.
The US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has developed a website (Socialserve.com) where vouchers accepting property owners can post their housing units. Usually, the local housing authority also has a similar list for the convenience of Section 8 approved tenants.
It is on the part of the Voucher recipient to organize a meeting with owners or visit to these voucher accepting properties in the area where his application is approved for, including providing documents to the respective landlord and the Section 8 office. It is only then the officials will pay the visit to verify the HUD’s Housing Quality Standards.
A tenant must find a place to live and submit the “request for tenancy approval form” within 60 days after receiving the housing voucher. Most of the states do not offer an extension to this period except the City of Madison’s housing authority that allows ONLY one 60 days extension to this on written request. HUD says “one or more” extensions are allowed, so check with your local housing authority. (Note: since HUD doesn’t prohibit more than one extension, it’s possible you could dispute this if you are unable to find a place to live).
- Tenant to personally Live in the Unit
The voucher recipient is bound to personally live in the house which is approved and whose rent is paid directly to the owner, which means that the sub-leasing (even to other family members) is strictly prohibited according to the program rules.
- Paying the Security Deposit
Voucher holders are supposed to pay the amount of security deposit to the landlord from their pocket. Those unable to pay this amount can apply to other local or federal assistance programs with the possibility of their getting the required money.
- Paying their Portion of the Monthly Rent
As per the program regulations and criteria the tenant is usually responsible for paying a certain percentage of the monthly rent of the accommodation which is calculated through his/her monthly income which is generally 30 to 40 percent of the tenant’s earning. The housing authority is supposed to pay the rest directly to the landlord, who signs a contract with the authority.
It is expected of the tenants to pay their portion of the rent on time, failing to do so time after time can result in discontinuation of their benefits.
- Abiding by the Lease Agreement Rules
Tenants of Section 8 are bound to follow the terms of the lease agreement they sign with the property owner, like a regular tenant. They do not have any additional protection from other tenants. Conditions of the lease agreement apply to them in the same way as they do to the millions of others. They are anticipated to keep the housing unit in a clean and livable condition without damaging it, not hurting other’s right to live comfortably in the same building or neighborhood. Section 8 tenants are particularly advised to desist from indulging in any kind of illegal activity. If there arises any maintenance, health or safety issue they are required to inform the owner.
VI. Updating Section 8 of Any Changes
The amount of assistance under the program mainly depends upon the two major facts i.e. the family income and household size. Any change in the status of these two needs to be immediately informed to the Section 8 office. For example, the birth of a new baby, any family member getting or losing a job, death of a family member, etc. Failing to report such change, a tenant could lose his/her voucher completely and even face legal action.
VII. Notifying the Housing Authority and Landlord When Moving-out
There is a whole set of steps and processes that Section 8 tenants have to take when choosing to move out of a property they rented under this housing assistance. They must notify the landlord before vacating in addition to informing the local housing authority managing the program at their locality. In normal conditions, a tenant can move when his lease expires or after giving a formal written vacation notice 30-60 days in advance (depending on the state he is living in).
HUD says you cannot move-out with any debts owed to a landlord (that you rented with a Section 8 voucher) or Services or utility company (on a property you rented a Section 8 property). If you are moving out, and it’s not an unusual circumstance, try to make an even moving-out, the lease must be canceled (by agreement), not just broken.
In case there occurs a disagreement while leaving the legal assistance is always available to resolve the issue through Judicare.