Affordable Housing Online is monitoring the federal government's response to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak. As of March 13, 2020, Public Housing Agencies across the nation are closing their doors to the public. Most offices are still running and will communicate by phone, email, or mail. Some offices have drop boxes installed outside, so documents can still be hand-delivered. Visit the housing authority's website for the latest on its current operations, if one is available. If there is no information online, contact the housing authority directly. Due to a high volume of calls and modified office hours in most areas, expect a long wait time (days or weeks) for a response. To find your local PHA's contact info, browse by state here.
The internet is usually the first place we go to search for something, and that’s especially true when looking for a place to live. While the internet offers fast search results, it can also lead to websites that are waiting to take advantage of you. This Guide is designed to make you aware of common housing scams so you don’t become a victim when searching online for rental apartments. We partnered with HAI Group to create this guide.
Almost every time you search online with phrases containing “section 8”, the first result will be an ad titled “Apply for Section 8 Online”. This is a scam!
When you click on the ad, you will be taken to a site that tricks visitors into thinking they are completing a Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher application. Actually, anyone that completes their fake “application” is signing up for dozens of spam email lists.
Read more about data collection scams and learn how to recognize and report them.
Often through social media or online classified sites, someone offers to “transfer” their Section 8 voucher to you for a few hundred dollars. If you fall for this scam, you’ll be out the money and have a worthless piece of paper. Section 8 Housing Choice Vouchers are non transferable.
If a “landlord” is asking you to wire a security deposit or reservation fee before you ever see the housing rental, it’s probably a rental deposit scam. Often found on classified sites like Craigslist, the fake landlord uses fake rentals in hot rental markets to convince renters they need to reserve that great deal by wiring them money. Once the wire is received, the scammer disappears and there is no rental.
If you want to apply for Section 8, you are free to do so and there is NEVER a fee to apply. In fact, it against HUD regulations (and the law) for a public housing authority to charge an application fee for Section 8. That hasn’t stopped scammers from creating fake application websites and charging for fake Section 8 applications.
Share these tools with your customers and help prevent others from becoming a victim.