What does Section 8 Look for in a Background Check?

Complying with fair housing laws, the Public Housing Authorities (PHAs) decline the application of someone with a considerable criminal background.

section 8 approval process checks
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Are you eager to know how to be prepared for a Section 8 Background check? In this article you will learn what rental assistance programs like Section 8 and Public Housing will look for you your public records.

Your public records, which are complied of a combination of your credit reports and criminal records, help rental assistance programs and land lords make decisions on your applications and determine if you are likely to be a good tenant.

The Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher Program will check all applicants’ backgrounds before accepting them to the program.

The aim of Section 8 is to provide low-income recipients with a Housing Choice Voucher that the recipient can then use to find a home and a lease of their own.

However certain criminal records and public records will prohibit applicants from being accepted to the program.

You Will Learn

What Public Records will Get Your Application Denied?

Approval of Section 8 Choice Voucher implies attaining data on your past criminal activities by screening public records. Any activity that threatens the safety of others could become a reason for the denial.

While it is up to the housing agency (PHA) to reject the application, it must show you the data used to conduct the background check.

Here is the list of public records that can get your application for Section 8 denied.

Your Application

You’ll probably be asked to provide information regarding past criminal activities on the application form. You are expected to give accurate information because data is cross-checked with the public records. On confirming that you misrepresented the required information, the application will get rejected.

Criminal Offender Record Information (CORI) Reports

Your criminal background is checked using CORI reports. A person appeared in federal court or Massachusetts State with any criminal activity, that person has the CORI, no matter if the case is dismissed or the person is not found guilty.

Out-of-State Records

PHA can access your out-of-state criminal records by contacting the police department. Although they have a special certification, a certain procedure is followed.

Other Records

Your application faces life time bans if you register as a lifetime sex offender. Also, if you have ever been evicted for drug-relevant criminal actions. Specifically, convictions of production of methamphetamin in any federal assisted housing.

Your application might get rejected if records reveal you been indulged in violent crimes. These include actions that can threaten the enjoyment and safety of other residents around you.

PHA considers your convictions and arrests for the last 5 years.

Know more about how your record affects your housing rights!

How do I check my own Public record?

Who Maintains your Record?

Law enforcement agencies maintain your criminal record.  Some records only have convictions while others may also have arrest records.

Every agency sets different parameters for the records.

Where to Obtain the Copy?

A good way to get a copy of your accurate criminal record is to request a copy from any of the following:

  • FBI
  • State police
  • Local police department
  • Bureau of investigation
  • Public safety office

You are required to submit your fingerprint. The officer should tell you what data is revealed while searching the records.

Can a Felon Get Section 8?

Chance for approval of a Felon are lower but in many cases it is possible to fulfill eligibility criteria.

General guidelines regarding a Felon’s application for Section 8 are as under:

  • Your application will be accepted at most of the places if your felony occurred 5+ years past. Some PHAs accept the application if your felony occurred 10+ years past.
  • Some PHAs can reject your application in case you find you guilty of drug smuggling, violence, or fraud.
  • History of alcohol use or drug use probably denies your application.
  • An application may face denial if you have remained inconsistent in paying the rent.

What Criminal Charges Disqualify you from Section 8?

Section 8 vouchers are automatically denied to those who have been convicted of these felonies:

  • Any violation that results in becoming registered as a lifetime sex offender
  • A conviction for making methamphetamine on federal housing premises

If a member of your household has a history of drug or alcohol abuse that could endanger the safety and wellbeing of other occupants, the PHA will decline your application. These offenses may result in the individual being barred from receiving Section 8 or admission to subsidized housing in the future.

What are the HUD Criminal Background Check Requirements?

Reports from the Criminal Offender Registry (CORI) are used to look into a person’s criminal history. Anyone who appears in federal or state court for any illegal act, regardless of the outcome, has a CORI. PHA can also get a hold of your out-of-state criminal history through correspondence with the police department.

How Long Does the HUD Background Check Take?

While conducting a background check may appear to be a lengthy and tedious process, it is relatively quick. Landlords typically respond within two or three days.

What Will Disqualify You from Section 8?

The housing authority will deny your Section 8 voucher application if they discover that you or a member of your household:

  • Failed to sign the verification or consent form
  • Has been evicted from program-assisted housing due to major lease violation
  • Hasn’t provided any information to validate immigration status
  • Is currently involved in using illegal substances
  • Has a history of unlawful drug or alcohol misuse that could endanger the wellbeing, safety, or quality of life of other residents
  • Is registered as a lifetime sex offender
  • Has been booted from public housing in the past three years due to any drug-related illegal activity

Does Section 8 Check Up on You?

Housing authorities conduct an annual inspection of rental units to verify that tenants and landlords comply with the proper rules and regulations. That means that tenants are taking care of their units as stated in their lease, and so are landlords. Under the conditions of the Section 8 program, tenants must give permission for the housing authority to conduct these inspections if they are asked to do so.

Is Section 8 a Public Record?

Yes. Public records encompass all papers, books, photographs, recordings, maps, statistical tables, financial statements, and other documentation assets or data, regardless of physical shape or qualities, received or made by a housing authority officer or employee.


So now you know how important it is to maintain a perfect public background record. If you think your criminal record needs to be expunged, then have a detailed conversation with a local criminal defense attorney who can help you correct your record.

For a list of other programs facilitating people with a criminal background, visit here.

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