What should a landlord expect when renting to a Section 8 voucher holder?

Answer

Landlords who have interested tenants with a Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) should expect to:

  • Familiarize themselves with the Section 8 HCV program.
  • Get a monthly rent payment from the participating Public Housing Agency (PHA), which is based on the family’s income and the agreed upon rent amount. The PHA usually pays a portion of the rent which can be all of it or a smaller amount. The payment will arrive between the first and fifth of every month, either in the mail or by direct deposit.
  • Be allowed to keep the PHA’s monthly rent payment, even if the voucher holder’s family moves out in that same month of the payment.
  • Get a higher portion of the rent from the PHA, if the voucher holder’s family suddenly loses their income, and in many cases, the PHA will pay the full amount of the rent payment if a family loses all or most of their income.
  • Receive help from the PHA to fill the landlord’s vacant units, since the PHA will have dozens, sometimes hundreds, of qualified voucher holders looking for a unit.
  • Get a basic inspection from the PHA for the rental unit, every year or two years (depending on the local PHA). The Landlord will get a report of the needed repairs. If asked, the Inspector can tell the Landlord If the repairs appear to be caused by the Voucher Holder or are normal wear and tear.
  • Continue to get a rental payment from the PHA until the voucher holder leaves the unit in the event that if a good cause eviction.

What are the restrictions for who can be a Section 8 landlord?

HUD will not pay rent when the landlord is a parent, child, grandparent, grandchild, or sibling of the renting family. The only exception would be if the family includes a person with a disability who needs the unit as a documented reasonable accommodation.

Landlords who have been caught violating program policies may be banned from participation in the program.

What paperwork is the landlord required to complete?

  • Request for Tenancy Approval (RTA) form
    Must be signed by the landlord and the voucher holder (head of household). The voucher holder is responsible for submitting the completed signed form to the PHA, although the landlord can also submit the form on behalf of the voucher holder. The RTA form will be 2 pages long.
  • Lead Paint Certification form
    Needs to be submitted to the PHA, along with the RTA. Needed for any dwelling built before 1978. However, almost all PHAs require this form, no matter when the unit was built. The Lead Paint Certification form will be 1 or 2 pages long.
  • Lease
    The PHA should advise the renter not to sign the lease until the unit passes the inspection and the landlord and PHA have agreed upon a rent amount. The PHA will review the lease and unless there are some outrageous or unusual requirements or conditions, will approve it. PHA approved leases run for 12 months.
  • Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) Contract
    Contract between the landlord and the PHA. Tells the monthly rent amount to be paid directly to the landlord by the PHA and what amount is the responsibility of the voucher holder. Also, tells what utilities are paid by the voucher holder. The HAP contract is signed by the Landlord and the PHA representative. A copy is also given to the Voucher Holder. The HAP Contract will be 13 pages long. Although it is 13 pages long, most of the contract explains the responsibilities of the PHA, the Landlord and the Voucher Holder.

What are the steps to renting a unit to a Housing Choice Voucher tenant?

  1. The voucher holder will bring the landlord a Request for Tenancy Approval (RTA) and Lead Paint Certification form to complete and sign.

  2. The voucher holder or the landlord (or landlord’s representative) will submit the two forms to the voucher holder’s PHA caseworker.

  3. The caseworker will review the forms and check the rent amount against the local Fair Market Rent (FMR), and also look at comparable rents in the area. The caseworker will either negotiate the rent amount if the requested amount is higher than the FMR, or will agree to the rent payment. For some PHAs, the housing inspector will review the requested rent amount, after the inspection is completed.

  4. The PHA inspector will contact the landlord to make an appointment for the inspection. For most PHAs, the inspection has to be completed within 15 days after the RTA is received. Some of the larger PHAs might take longer. The voucher holder will be notified of the date of the inspection and the Inspector should ask the voucher holder if they want to be present for the inspection. The landlord or the landlord’s representative should be present during the inspection, but doesn’t necessarily have to be.

  5. The PHA inspector will tell the landlord if the unit passed the inspection or repairs are needed.

  6. The landlord makes a decision to complete the repairs or to not complete the repairs and not rent to the voucher holder. If the landlord decides to complete the repairs, the landlord will need to contact the inspector once the repairs are completed. The inspector will set up a time to come back out and review the repairs.

  7. If the unit passes at that time, the voucher holder can move in on the date agreed upon by the PHA and the landlord. Some PHAs will pay a partial month’s rent if the voucher holder moves in the middle of the month, but some won’t pay until the first or fifteenth of the month. The landlord needs to make sure the PHA will pay a partial month’s rent before the voucher holder moves in on a date other than the first of the month.

  8. After the lease and HAP contract is signed and the voucher holder gets the keys from the landlord, the contract and lease begins.

  9. Ten months later, the landlord will get an appointment notice for the annual inspection. The inspector comes out, inspects the unit and sends a notice to the landlord that the unit passed or not. If the unit doesn't pass the annual inspection, a description of the needed repairs will be sent to the landlord, along with a due date by which the repairs need to be completed. A copy will be sent to the voucher holder.

  10. If the landlord wants to request a raise in rent, they need to notify the PHA caseworker 30 to 60 days in advance of the end of the first year’s lease, depending on the PHA rules.

  11. The voucher holder will go through an annual recertification. The PHA caseworker will verify the voucher holder’s income and the portion of rent paid by the PHA could change for the upcoming twelve months, depending on the voucher holder’s income and income deductions (childcare, medical bills, etc...)

  12. The PHA caseworker will send a notice to the landlord, stating the PHA’s new portion of the rent and the voucher holder’s new rent portion amount to be paid to the landlord. The notice will also include the date the new rent amounts start.

More Housing Policy, Landlords, and Tenants FAQs from Low Income Households

  • How many bedrooms am I eligible for?
  • How much would my rent be?
  • Can I be evicted if my HUD apartment is sold?
  • How Much Are Section 8 Housing Choice Vouchers Worth
  • What is HUD?