Section 8 Housing program

What happens if the Section 8 owner corrects the problems which are my responsibility?
If the owner corrects the problems, you can keep your Section 8.  The owner can bill you for the cost of repairs and can evict you if you do not repay him/her.  If you are evicted, you can lose your Section 8.

What type of inspections does the Housing Authority perform?

The various inspections that the Housing Authority performs include:

  • Initial inspections - the first inspection of the unit before a lease can be signed and the participant can move in
  • Annual inspections - an inspection of each unit at least every 364 days to ensure compliance with housing quality standards
  • Re-inspections and subsequent inspections - which are follow-ups to annual inspections which need some type of corrective actions
  • Special inspections - the Housing Authority is informed by the participant, the landlord or a neighbor that there is a problem/complaint with the leased unit and some type of corrective action may be needed
  • Quality Control inspections - when a supervisor re-inspects a unit to ensure the quality of the inspection and to ensure that the unit meets all of the HUD requirements

You will find more information on Housing Quality Standards (HQS), including inspection checklists and requirements on the Housing and Urban Development website.  Please review the Housing Authority       Inspection Checklist and make necessary repairs before the Housing Authority inspects the unit.

What areas of my unit should I be careful not to overlook, since they will be inspected?
Keep closets and other storage areas free of all clutter and trash; Make sure that all dishes are clean and safely stored when not in use. Maintain the refrigerator of the unit clean and free of spoiled food. Defrost the freezer when necessary. Keep the bathroom exhaust fan --if any-- free of dust and particles. Maintain a clean toilet and tank, and keep the tub and/or shower clean and free of mildew and mold.

I have no spare room in my closets; can I use a section of my unit for storage?
You can use a part of your unit for storage purposes, as long as the stored articles are kept in containers which are arranged in an organized and safe manner and that your unit is not cluttered and littered with trash. You should be able to move through your unit. Exits and escape routes must not be blocked.

If the Housing Authority makes a decision that affects my participation in the Section 8 Program, do I have a right to appeal?
Yes. All Section 8 program applicants, participants are entitled to an informal appeal and review process to consider whether Housing Authority decisions are in accordance with HUD regulations and Housing Authority policies.

What types of reviews and hearings are available to me?
There are three different types of reviews and hearings. The specific review or hearing available to you depends on the nature of the complaint. The three procedures are: Tenant Counseling, Informal Review, and Informal Hearing.

Would you describe the three different types of reviews and hearings?

  1. Informal Review: Section 8 Program applicants have the right to request an Informal Review if it is determined that they fail to meet Section 8 program qualifications. Upon notification of their being withdrawn from the Section 8 Wait List, applicants are informed of their right to re-apply, and to request an Informal Review of the Housing Authority's denial of their qualifications. The Informal Review is conducted by the Supervising Housing  Specialist or his/her designee. Applicants are given the opportunity to contest the Housing Authority's decision, and are promptly notified of the basis for the decision.
  2. Tenant Counseling: Counselings are scheduled with tenants regarding unauthorized household members; Owner Complaints regarding Damage: Unpaid Rent; Unpaid utilities and general compliance with Section 8 Program rules. Housing Authority supervisors review and try to resolve complaints. Complaints not resolved at the tenant counseling level are referred to Informal Hearing.
  4. Informal Hearing: Informal Hearings are conducted to allow Section 8 participants to contest Housing Authority determinations regarding: Family's Share of the Rent; Denial or Termination of Section 8 Assistance; Assignment of Specific Bedroom Size Appropriate to the Family; Damages, Unpaid Rent; Denial of Voucher issuance or Re-Issuance; and Denial on the Basis of Citizenship Status. All Informal Hearing requests are given to a Hearing Officer. The Hearing Officer ensure that hearings are impartial, and that all parties have an opportunity to present evidence and testimony. When the hearing is completed, the Hearing Officer prepares an official hearing transcript for presentation to both parties. The Hearing Officer's written decision identifies and summarizes case facts; issues; evidence; pertinent laws; HUD regulations; HA policies; and the specific reason(s) for arriving at the decision

When did the new Lead Based Paint Regulations take effect?
September 15, 2000.   More information can be found here.

Which units will be affected by the new LBP requirements?
Units where children under age six live and which were built before January 1, 1978. 0 bedroom and 1 bedroom units where children are not expected to live, and units certified to be lead free are exempt from the requirements.

What areas of the unit are affected?
All painted surfaces - interior, exterior and common areas servicing the unit.

What are the tenants' responsibilities in regard to the LBP requirements, effective September 15, 2000?

Receive and read the HUD/EPA/CPSC pamphlet "Protect Your Family From Lead In Your Home" and:

  • Sign the Lead-Based Paint Disclosure form.
  • Notify your landlord of peeling or chipping paint.
  • Wash your children's hands often, especially before eating and sleeping.
  • Keep play areas clean. Keep children from chewing window sills or other painted surfaces.
  • Don't try to remove lead-based paint yourself.
  • Get your children tested if you think your home has high levels of lead.

How do I get the owner to make repairs in my Section 8 unit?
You should write the owner a letter and send a copy of it to your Section 8 Housing Specialist (HS).  You should allow the owner 30 days to correct the problems.  If there is an immediate threat to your health and safety, you should immediately notify the owner and your HS by telephone and allow the owner 24 hours to make the repairs.  You may want to send a follow up letter to the owner.  Remember to send a copy of the letter to your HS as well.

What should I do if the repairs are not made?
:  If the problems are not corrected, you should contact your Section 8 HS and ask for an inspection.  The Housing Inspector will document the problems and notify the owner to correct them.

What happens if the owner still doesn’t correct the problems?
The Housing Authority will automatically re-inspect the unit.  If the owner fails to correct the problems, the Housing Authority will stop paying the landlord.  The owner will not receive any Housing Assistance Payments until the repairs have been made and verified by a Housing Authority Inspector.  However, you must still keep paying your portion of the rent so that you are still meeting the terms of the lease.  The Housing Authority’s abatement of the unit should not lead to an eviction.

What happens if the owner doesn’t make the repairs after the Housing Assistance Payment has been stopped?
Your Section 8 HS may give you a new voucher to find another unit.  Your Section 8 HS will end the Contract after notifying you and the owner.

What happens if I don’t want to move?
In order to receive Section 8 assistance, you must live a unit which is decent, safe and sanitary. You will have up to 120 days to find new housing. If you do not find housing within 120 days, and the unit still does not pass inspection, you will lose your Section 8.  

What is a security deposit?
A security deposit is any payment, fee, deposit, or charge other than the first month’s rent that a tenant pays when he/she moves in. Deposits such as cleaning fees, key deposits, pet deposits, and “last month’s rent” are all security deposits. A security deposit cannot exceed 2 months rent for an unfurnished unit or 3 months rent for a furnished unit. It is illegal for any security deposit to be called “non-refundable.” A landlord may increase a security deposit only by giving a written 30 day notice to the tenant in advance. An increase in the security deposit may not be allowed by the terms of a lease, or by law (if the owner has already collected the maximum allowed by law).

What happens to my security deposit if the owner sells the building?

If the unit is sold, the landlord must either return the security deposit to the tenant or transfer it to the new owner. If neither of these is done, then both the old and new owner are held responsible for the return of the deposit.

What charges can be deducted from the security deposit?
A security deposit can be used to make up for unpaid rent when a tenant moves, for repair of damages to the unit, and for cleaning the unit if the unit is not left as clean as when the tenant moved in. It may not be used for repair due to ordinary wear and tear.

What happens to my security deposit when I move?
A security deposit must be returned within 3 weeks after the tenant moves. If the landlord makes any deductions from a security deposit, he must provide a written statement describing the deductions and refund the balance. If the owner refuses to return a security deposit in bad faith, a tenant can sue in small claims court for the amount of money that should have been refunded plus $600 in damages. If a tenant disagrees with the deductions made, the tenant should contact the landlord. A tenant can sue the owner for the balance not returned in small claims court.

Can I move to a new apartment and keep my Section 8?
Yes.  You must be a Section 8 tenant in good standing and have lived in your unit for one year.

How do I let the Housing Authority know I want to move?

You must send a written request to your assigned HS.

How long does it take to get a voucher to move?
That depends on whether your income verifications are up to date and on how many other Section 8 participants have requested to move.  However, if your landlord asks you to move, submit a copy of the 30 or 90-day notice, or court paper (such as an unlawful detainer) to your HS along with your written request to move.  That will speed up the process.

How long do I have to find a new apartment?
The Housing Authority will initially give you 60 days to find a new unit.  If you are unable to find suitable housing within that timeframe you can request an additional 60 days for a total of 120 days... However, if your landlord has given you a notice to move, then you may be in danger of eviction at the end of the notice period.

If I find a new apartment, can I move in right away?

No. You must follow the steps below:

  1. Give written notice of your intention to move to your owner with a copy to your HS
  2. Schedule a move appointment with your HS
  3. Housing Choice Voucher and Request for Tenancy Approval (RFTA) will be issued at your move appointment
  4. Find a new unit and discuss the Section 8 Program with owner
  5. Submit the RFTA to your HS
  6. The Housing Authority schedules a Housing Quality Standards (HQS) inspection of the unit and surveys rents in the area
  7. If there are problems in the new unit, the owner makes repairs.  If there are no deficiencies, the unit passes the inspection
  8. Housing Authority re-inspects for deficiencies, if necessary
  9. If the unit passes inspection, and you, the Housing Authority, and the owner agree to the Rent, Start Date, Security Deposit, and other Lease terms, the Housing Authority authorizes you to move in after you and the owner sign the Lease

How often can I move and still keep my Housing Choice Voucher?

You can only move one time in any 12-month period.

Am I responsible for correcting damages caused by my family members, my guests, or me?
Yes.  At the time of an annual or complaint inspection, you and the owner are notified in writing of the repairs to be made.  The HA does not determine who is responsible for correcting the fail items.  Failure to correct the problems in a timely manner can result in termination of assistance.

What happens if I don’t correct the problems?
If you fail to correct the problems, you will lose your Section 8.

Am I responsible for repairing the stove and refrigerator and paying for gas and electric service?
Yes. You are responsible for repairing the stove and refrigerator if they belong to you.  You are also responsible for utilities if your lease says you are responsible for them.  If you don’t pay your gas and electric bills and they are turned off, you can lose your Section 8.

Can the Housing Authority terminate my Section 8 rental assistance?
Yes, the Housing Authority can terminate your Section 8 rental assistance.

For what reasons can the Housing Authority terminate my rental assistance?

The Housing Authority can terminate rental assistance for the following reasons:

  • Violation of any of the Section 8 Program Family obligations which include serious or repeated violations of your lease
  • Previous eviction from public housing
  • Drug-related or violent criminal activity
  • Fraud, bribery, or criminal activity in connection with any federal housing assistance program
  • Outstanding unpaid rent, vacancy loss, other debts or any other money due the Housing Authority or another Housing Authority
  • Breach of an agreement by the family to repay the Housing Authority for any money due the Housing Authority
  • Failure to sign and submit forms to document your family composition and income
  • Failure to fulfill family obligations under the Section 8 welfare-to-work voucher program
  • Abusive, violent behavior or threats toward Housing Authority personnel

What are the Section 8 Program Family Obligations and where are they listed?
The Section 8 Family Obligations are HUD rules for continuing participation in the Section 8 Voucher rental assistance program.  There are on your Housing Choice Voucher. 

Is there any way that I can challenge the termination process?
Yes, you have the right to an Informal Hearing to present facts to support why your Section 8 should not be terminated.

If I am terminated from the Section 8 Program, will I be allowed to re-apply?
Yes, you will be allowed to re-apply for the Section 8 Program if we are taking applications. You will be placed on a waiting list.  Persons added to the waiting list now can expect a long wait for assisted housing.  When your name comes up on the list, the Housing Authority will make a thorough review of your prior termination and determine whether you can be admitted to the Section 8 Program under the rules in effect at that time.