Section 8: Roles of the Tenant, Landlord and HUD

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The Department of Housing and Urban Development created clearly defined roles for those participating in the Section 8 program. Landlords, tenants and the department itself must abide by rules set forth by the federal government. Tenants are responsible for applying and finding housing and, if a landlord wishes to rent to a Section 8 tenant, his or her property must meet certain safety and sanitation standards. These are only a select few Section 8 legal requirements. Keep reading if for answers about the roles of the entities in the voucher program:

  • Tenants
  • Landlords
  • Public housing agencies (authorities)
  • The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)

Tenants

As mentioned above, it is the responsibility of the tenant to find housing after receiving a Section 8 voucher. The tenant must be sure that the landlord participates in the Section 8 program and that the property meets certain standards. Once in residence, tenants must pay the difference between their subsidy amount and the rent. This includes any increases to the reny amount by the landlord. Residents must put at least 30 to 40 percent of their monthly income towards utilities.

Prior to moving in, the family must sign a lease of at least one year and have it approved by the public housing agency. Tenants must also cover any security deposit requirements prior to habitation. At the end of the one-year lease, the landlord may elect to initiate a month-to-month lease or a completely new lease. Tenants must also do the following:

  • Pay the rent on the designated date.
  • Keep the property in good condition.
  • Notify the public housing agency of any income or familial changes.

If the tenant violates the lease terms, the landlord has the right to take the appropriate legal actions. Program participants should also know that failing to notify the agency of an income change can result in a termination of benefits. Familial changes include changes to the number of family members.

Landlords

There are no restrictions on how much a landlord can charge, but Section 8 expects those participating in the program to charge a reasonable rent. He or she will also need to be sure that the dwelling meets the sanitary, structural and safety standards of the public housing agency. Once HUD deems the dwelling livable, the landlord must keep it in this condition and make any necessary repairs in a timely manner. All landlords must abide by the terms in the signed lease if they wish to receive payment.

Local Public Housing Agencies (Authorities)

Local public housing agencies enter into an agreement with the Department of Housing and Urban Development. This agreement involves providing housing vouchers to those in need of assistance and ensuring that compensation to participating landlords. Local agencies are also responsible for ensuring that all properties meet safety standards and that all participating residents meet eligibility standards. At least once a year, the agency must reassess the income status of Section 8 recipients and readjust the size of subsidies as needed. If a tenant or landlord fails to abide by the terms of the lease, the agency has the right to stop making subsidy payments.

The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)

The Department of Housing and Urban Development must also follow certain rules and regulations in regards to the Section 8 program. It must allow local housing agencies to oversee the program in their jurisdiction and cover any costs associated with the program. It must also provide more funds if a local agency is in need of additional resources. HUD must monitor all agencies and ensure that they adhere to all federal housing laws and regulations.