How To Find A Section 8 Apartment

Photo of a landlord handing their new tenant the keys to their new rental home. Photo by Adobe Stock.

After getting approved for Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher rental assistance, it’s important to start searching for a new home as soon as possible.

There is a time limit to sign a lease with the voucher, and knowing which types of rentals accept Section 8 vouchers will help save time and frustration during your housing search.

To start the search for a Section 8 apartment or house, first make sure that you’re looking for the right types of rental housing.

 
  1. Find a home that is either privately owned, or an affordable housing residence without subsidized rent.


    A Section 8 voucher can be used to rent homes and apartments that are owned by a private landlord or property manager.

    The search for a privately owned home can be difficult in some parts of the country. In many areas, private landlords and property managers can refuse tenants who have a Section 8 voucher.

    In response, many states and local governments passed laws to protect renters with a Housing Choice Voucher. However, a large part of the country does not have these protections.

    Vouchers are also accepted at affordable housing residences that do not have subsidized rent. These residences do not have income-based rent, so Section 8 Vouchers are eligible.

    Residences that are affordable through the following housing programs must accept vouchers:

    • Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC)
    • HOME Investment Partnerships Program (HOME)
    • Section 515 Rural Rental Housing

    Note: Some of these rentals may have another housing program stacked onto them that makes the monthly rent income-based. These types of affordable housing are not eligible, because they already provide income-based rent.

    Restrictions

    Residences where a Section 8 Voucher cannot be used in any circumstance include:

    • College or other school dormitories.
    • Penal, reformatory, medical, mental, or similar rooms in a public or private institution.
    • Any home occupied by tenants who are not part of the Section 8 household.
    • Affordable housing properties that already provide income-based rent, including:
    • Public or Indian Housing
    • Section 8 Project-Based Rental Assistance
    • Section 8 Project-Based Voucher
    • USDA Section 521 Rural Rental Assistance
    • Section 202 Supportive Housing for the Elderly
    • Section 811 Supportive Housing for Persons with Disabilities
    • Any other federal, state or local housing program that offers income-based rent.

    With an idea in mind for a type of home, there are a few different ways to find an available rental.

     
  2. Ask the housing authority for a list of landlords.


    Before searching local advertisements, first check if the housing authority has a list of participating landlords.

    Not every agency has a list like this, but it it can help to greatly reduce the time it takes to find a unit.

    If the housing authority doesn’t have a list of landlords available, you must find an available rental on your own time.

     
  3. Search for available rental advertisements online or locally.


    Rentals can be found online, and through local means like newspapers or organizations that help low-income households.

    While looking for available rentals, keep the search within the housing authority’s service area. Commonly known as the jurisdiction, this is the only area where the agency can provide rental assistance. Any rental located outside of the housing authority’s jurisdiction will be denied.

    After finding an advertisement for a suitable home, an application must be submitted and approved by the landlord.

    Photo of a landlord handing their new tenant the keys to their new rental home. Photo by Adobe Stock.

     
  4. Submit an application for tenancy.


    Once an available rental has been found, submit an application to the landlord or property manager.

    The amount of household information required in the application will vary by each landlord. An application fee may be required as well. Landlords, and even housing authorities are allowed to charge their own application fee to become a tenant.

    In many cases, the landlord will also do a credit and criminal background check.

    When a landlord approves your application for tenancy, there’s just one more requirement before moving in.

     
  5. Have the housing authority inspect the home.


    After getting approved by a landlord, report this back to the housing authority as soon as possible to get it inspected.

    Any apartment or house that accepts Housing Choice Vouchers must pass HUD’s health and safety inspection. The inspection checks for standards like heat, water, and structural damage.

    Following the housing authority’s approval of the unit, the household can now move in.

    Photo of a landlord handing their new tenant the keys to their new rental home. Photo by Adobe Stock.

     
  6. Move in.


    Now that everything is approved, it’s time to finally move into your new home!

    During the move-in process, households have to cover their own moving expenses. However, some local organizations may have programs that assist renters in need. Keep this in mind, especially when looking for housing away from your current residence.

    Now, the household will have to pay only a portion of their monthly income for rent.

    Photo of a landlord handing their new tenant the keys to their new rental home. Photo by Adobe Stock.

     

What’s Next?

About once a year, the housing authority will re-examine the household’s income for continued eligibility. The voucher will stay with the household as long as everyone is still qualified.

 

Continue Reading – Low Income Housing Guide

 

Applying for affordable housing can be involved and complicated. Affordable Housing Online has written a guide to make it easier for renters to get the housing assistance they need.