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Find Out About the Latest Section 8 Laws
Administered by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the Section 8 program is constantly changing. As the needs of citizens evolve, the program must also evolve to meet them. Before filing an application, it is important for applicants to have an understanding of Section 8 laws and regulations. The vast majority of these laws are federal, but individual public housing agency jurisdictions do have permission to alter some laws to better serve local applicants. Keep reading to learn more about the following topics:
- The Fair Housing Act
- Filing a Housing Discrimination complaint
- The rights of disabled individuals
- Housing vouchers for homeless veterans
What is the Fair Housing Act?
The Fair Housing Act primarily outlines the rules regarding the Section 8 program and its participants. The Act states that single-family homes, apartments, condominiums and a variety of other properties are available through the program. It also states that vouchers are not usable for housing that is:
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- Rented or sold by brokers.
- Owned or operated by private organizations, such as clubs.
- Occupied by the owner (buildings with more than four units).
The Act also requires that Section 8 participants receive equal treatment from landlords. It is illegal to deny a recipient housing based on his or her race, nationality, disability, religious beliefs or ethnicity. It is a requirement for landlords to provide all tenants with the same quality of housing, regardless of Section 8 status. Similar to landlords, mortgage lenders and other private financial institutions may not discriminate against Section 8 participants during the mortgage application process.
How to File a Housing Discrimination Complaint
If you believe that a landlord or organization violated your housing rights, you will need to complete and submit a Housing Discrimination Complaint Form to HUD. This form is available for download as well as submission online at the official HUD website. If you do not have access to a computer or internet service, you can call your local HUD office or write a letter detailing your experience. HUD recommends that participants submit a complaint as soon as possible (voucher recipients have one year to file a complaint after the initial violation of rights). If HUD believes that your complaint is valid, it can take any or all of the following actions:
- Investigate the complaint within 30 days of its submission.
- Reach an agreement between the tenant and the offender.
- Have the Attorney General file suit if the offender violates the agreement.
HUD handles the most urgent complaints first during investigations.
What are the current rights of disabled individuals?
The Fair Housing Act also protects the rights of disabled individuals. Any Section 8 tenant with a physical or mental disability such as a chronic illness must have reasonable accommodation provided by the landlord. This means that if a disabled tenant needs to make reasonable alterations to his or her dwelling because of a disability, the landlord must allow it. Landlords do have the right to charge the handicapped individual if the alteration damages property at the end of the lease. Dwellings with no-pet policies must also allow service animals if needed by a disabled beneficiary.
Learn About Housing Vouchers for Homeless Veterans
The VA Supportive program, also known as VASH, is run by HUD as well. This program helps homeless service members find and maintain stable housing. Like Section 8, the VA Supportive program issues financial assistance in the form of vouchers and eligible participants may use their funds to procure private housing. Anyone eligible for VA health services may apply and if a substance abuse or mental health issue exists, counseling and treatment is available in addition to housing assistance.