Tenant Responsibilities while in the Section 8 Program
As a tenant under Section 8 you have certain responsibilities other than the rules and responsibilities set by your landlord. You must carry out these responsibilities if you wish to continue receiving your Section 8 housing voucher. These responsibilities are:
Finding your own unit – The PHA only provides you with a housing voucher, so it’s your responsibility to find an eligible place for you to live and to live in it yourself. You are prohibited from renting out a unit that has been approved for you. This is considered fraud and will get your voucher terminated.
Paying the security deposit and your portion of the rent – You must cover the moving-in deposit and your portion of the monthly rent. There are other assistance programs that may be able to help. Failure to pay your rent or constantly paying your rent late can lead to the termination of your voucher.
Abide by the lease agreement rules – It is very important that you follow the lease rules that you signed before moving into the unit. These rules usually are about unit cleanliness, disturbing the peace and prohibiting criminal activity in or around the unit.
Notify the PHA of any changes in your income or family size – Section 8 vouchers depend a lot on the amount of people in your household and your income. It is crucial that you inform the PHA of any changes in your income, such as if you get fired or get a raise or if you have a new baby on the way or a family member moves out. The PHA gives you 10 days to inform them of any changes. If you don’t report any changes in income or amount of family members, you may lose your voucher and can even be facing legal action.
Notify the landlord and PHA if you decide to vacate the unit – Section 8 tenants usually don’t move until their lease is up and must remember to give the landlord a 30-day notice. You are required to inform both the landlord and the PHA if you decide to vacate a unit.
Adding Someone to Your Section 8 Voucher
If you would like to add someone to your voucher, first you must make sure they meet the eligibility requirements established by the PHA. Then you must contact the PHA where you originally applied and provide them with information of this person, such as name, date of birth, social security number, income and also provide documentation as evidence of each. Once this is done the housing authority will inform you if your request to add someone to your voucher has been approved or denied.
Can Section 8 Be Transferred to Another Family Member?
Usually, the only way a housing voucher can be transferred to another family member is if the head of household dies and another family member is co-head of household. Transferring a voucher to someone that isn’t head or co-head of household only happens in certain instances such as the death of the head of the household.
Recertifying Your Section 8 Eligibility
Once you’ve received your Section 8 voucher you will still be required to undergo Section 8’s yearly inspections if you would like to continue in the program. These inspections are done to make sure you’re still eligible for the Section 8 program and if there have been any changes that affect your voucher. The PHA will be assessing your income, expenses, assets and family composition, so you will be required to show documentation such as W-2 forms, bank statements, etc.
Can You Move and Keep Getting Assistance?
Yes, you can move and keep your voucher!!! The HUD calls this portability, but there are certain things you should do to not risk losing your voucher when moving, such as informing the PHA beforehand and giving your landlord a 30-day (minimum) prior notice. Once you notify the PHA that you would like to move, they will verify that the area you plan on moving to has a rental assistance program as well. You are only permitted to relocate once a year.
What Happens to the Section 8 Voucher if the Head of the Household Dies?
First, the PHA will ask for proof of death of the head of the household. What happens after may vary depending on the PHA, but in most cases, if there is an adult member on the voucher, they will take over. If only minors are left on the voucher, a family member outside of the voucher may take over. If no family member takes over the voucher, a temporary guardian may be assigned. After this, the new head of house will need to sign an updated lease. It’s very important to contact the PHA if the head of the household dies, so you don’t risk losing your benefits.
Section 8 Rules on Getting Married to a Felon
If you plan on marrying a person that has committed a felony, you must make sure they qualify for a Section 8 voucher as well. Remember, if a person has been convicted as a lifetime sex offender or for producing methamphetamine in federal housing, they are automatically disqualified for Section 8.
People that have been convicted of minor felonies may be eligible if the crime was committed more than 5 years ago (10 in some places) or if they’re undergoing rehabilitation treatment. Do not let a felon live with you without approval of your PHA or you may risk getting your voucher terminated permanently.
Can I Transfer my Section 8 to my Daughter or Son?
Section 8 housing vouchers cannot be transferred to a minor or to a person that is not on the voucher already, except in extreme cases such as death. A voucher is usually transferred to the co-head of the household, unless there is none.
Section 8 Change of Head of the Household
As previously mentioned, a Section 8 housing voucher can be transferred to the co-head of the household if for any reason the head of household decides to move out of the unit, or in case of death. You must contact the PHA where you applied to make sure they don’t have other requirements when changing the head of household.