If my apartment is part of a Project Based Section 8 project funded by HUD and the property is sold, can the new owner make me move out?
If a Project Based Section 8 apartment community is sold and the new owner decides not to renew the Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) contract with HUD, they can permanently relocate residents. However, under the federal Uniform Relocation Act (URA), Project-Based Section 8 tenants receive certain protections including relocation advisory services, extended relocation notice requirements, moving expense reimbursement and substantial payments to cover the increased costs of replacement housing.
According to Relocation Assistance To Tenants Displaced From Their Homes (HUD-1042-CPD), HUD booklet for displaced tenants, if a tenant is notified they will be displaced, "it is important that you do not move before you learn what you must do to receive the relocation payments and other assistance to which you are entitled."
The benefits displaced tenants are entitled to are:
- Extended move out notice. You are not required to move without at least 90 days advance written notice. The written notice must identify at least one comparable rental property available to you and the earliest date by which you must move.
- Relocation advisory services. Counseling services that include referrals to comparable replacement housing, inspection of replacement housing to ensure it meets established standards, claim for preparation assistance, and other counseling to minimize the cost and impact of the move.
- Moving Expense Payment. Payment of actual moving expense and/or a fixed moving expense and dislocation allowance.
- Allowance for Replacement Housing. To provide a renter with the financial resources needed to find replacement housing, the tenant is entitled to relocation assistance payments to buy or rent replacement housing. The URA entitles displaced renters to rental assistance for a 42 month period following displacement. The amount of monthly assistance is determined by subtracting 30% of a low-income tenant's monthly income from the monthly rent payment for the replacement housing. For example, if a displaced Section 8 tenant earns $500 per month and replacement housing costs $800 per month, for 42 months, the tenant would receive $650 per month for 42 months, $800 (the new rent) minus $150 (30% of monthly income).
To receive these benefits, a displaced tenant must file a claim.
Relocation regulations and the benefits tenants are entitled to are complicated. Many purchasers of Project-Based Section 8 properties are either inexperienced with the program and its requirements or choose to ignore them. Often, a new owner tries to just evict everyone upon assuming ownership without following the Uniform Relocation Act, which is unlawful.
If you find yourself in a situation where you are being displaced, it is very important that you do not move until you identify what your rights are.
HUD has a great overview of the URA and even provides Regional Relocation Specialists (directory) that can assist tenants in danger of relocation.