Section 8


Federal assistance provided by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development or (HUD) the program is dedicated to sponsoring housing for low-income families. The program began during the great depression to address the problem of sub-standard housing. In1974 the federal government amended the U. S. Housing Act of 1937 to create subsidy programs to help low income families pay their rent. This is more commonly known as Section 8, which is the Housing Choice Voucher Program. It was created because of the high percentage of income spent on housing as opposed to sub-standard housing which was no longer the major problem at this time. An applicant must meet certain income guidelines which they cannot exceed. The amount depends on the geographical location of the rental and the size of the family. Eligible tenants are issued vouchers which are either “project based” where the voucher is limited to certain apartment complexes, or “tenant based” wherein tenants may find a rental in the local market area and are not limited to complexes. Tenants pay a portion of the rent, about 30% of their income while the rest is paid through the Section 8 program. The rent is capped at the “Fair Market Rent”, for the area. This amount is determined by HUD and a landlord cannot charge the tenant more once he/she has agreed to the program. Landlords are not required to participate in this program, but all landlords are required to meet fair housing laws.

HUD determines the “Fair Market Rent” by several factors including:

Where the rental is located, or the geographic area, city or county. Some areas will have a higher rate than others, such as large cities.
The size of the rental, the more bedrooms, the higher the rent allowed.
Does the landlord provide utilities such as heat and electricity.

Why would a landlord not want to participate in the program and not accept Section 8 tenants:

  • The landlord may want to charge more than the “Fair Market Rent” for the rental.
  • Many landlords do not want government involved in their business. To qualify, the rental would need a full inspection by government employees working for HUD and quality standards must be met.
  • Some landlords fear that the tenants or their children may damage or not care for the rental properly.
  • A large percentage of Section 8 families are minorities, which would be racial profiling.
  • If it became necessary to evict the tenant, the landlord fears that it would be more difficult.
  • The landlord fears that Section 8 tenants may be involved with crime, drug use or drug dealing, littering and vandalism.

Landlords will accept Section 8 tenants because:

There is a long list of available potential renters in the Section 8 waiting lists, and landlords will have less down-time between tenants.
Payments of the rent paid by the Public Housing Authority will always be regular and on time.
There may be a higher quality of tenants. Tenants who violate the lease, do not pay their share of the rent or damage the rental will be permanently removed from the Section 8 program.
Rental units acceptable to the Section 8 program must meet Housing Quality Standards, HQS. Improvement in the landlords’ property is a valuable consideration for the landlord as any money that he/she invests will not only value the property higher, but much of the expense is tax deductable as well.
Families must abide by strict rules and regulations to remain on the program.

In some states, a landlord refusing to rent to a tenant solely for the reason that they have Section 8 may be illegal.   Discrimination Landlords can use only general means of disqualifying a tenant; credit, criminal history, past evictions, etc.


  • Tenant with Section 8 voucher views your apartment and wants to rent it.
  • Landlord screens the tenants to make sure they are suitable.
  • Landlord agrees to lease to the tenants and contacts the Section 8 office for approval.
  • The Section 8 office checks to make sure the tenant can afford the rent, and that the rent is reasonable compared to other rents in the area.
  • Section 8 inspector needs to check the landlords rental unit to make      sure it meets program standards.
  • The Section 8 office sends you a contract to sign.
  • The landlord signs the contract with Section 8 and the tenants.

The housing agency does not screen Section 8 tenants for landlords. Landlords’ need to do this themselves,   Tenant Screening just as they would screen non-Section 8 tenants. Landlords should ask for Social Security number, references, current and previous landlords, credit history, employment history, criminal record, etc., and check the information carefully. If a landlord wants a security deposit or pet fee, they must collect that from the tenant. The Section 8 program has no responsibility for damages, unpaid tenant rent, or other claims that a landlord might have against the tenant. Section 8 will send you a check for their portion of the rent each month. They will continue to do so as long as the tenant remains eligible for Section 8 and your apartment meets the Section 8 program standards. Landlords are responsible for collecting the tenant portion of the rent each month.

Landlords that would like to rent to Section 8 tenants should contact the local public housing agency to let them know that you have a rental available. The housing agency will add the apartment to their listings. This is a free service. Landlords may also advertise on their own. If a landlord places an ad, they may want to include a notice stating that they welcome Section 8 tenants.