How to qualify and apply for section 8

Dec 31, 2015 · 3 min read

Government subsidized rental assistance programs are intended for low income families and individuals. Some people, however, attempt to abuse these programs. A section 8 application is hard to find but is the first step to becoming part of these programs.

Can a Section 8 unit contain lead paint?

If a child under six is moving into the apartment, the owner must provide the housing authority with certification that the unit is in compliance with the Massachusetts Lead Law or that the property was built after December 31, 1977. Most housing agencies post their section 8 application online to avoid a massive turn out when their section 8 waiting list opens.

If a Lead Based Paint Compliance Letter is required, the owner must provide the housing authority with a copy of the letter before you can move into the apartment. It is illegal for an owner to deny you the apartment because someone in your household is pregnant or under six years old. Federal law requires that owners de-lead apartments that contain lead if a family meets the owner’s requirements for tenancy. If you feel that you’ve been denied tenancy because of lead, contact your housing counselor at the PHA.

In order to apply for section 8 online and have a good chance for approval, one must meet HUD’s median low income level. This could vary from state to state depending on the housing agency in question.

How much rent will I have to pay?

At the briefing, you will learn how the amount of your rental subsidy is calculated based on the Applicable Payment Standard (APS). The APS is set by HUD and the amounts differ depending on how many bedrooms your family needs. You can choose a unit with a rent that is above or below the payment standard. Your calculation is based on 30% of your monthly adjusted gross income towards rent and utilities. The utility allowance schedule is determined by DHCD and would be used to determine the amount of utility allowance the family is eligible based on the information that is indicated on the “Request for Tenancy Approval” form that the Owner/Agent filled out. A HUD application online is the same thing, meaning for section 8 housing. By law, however, a family that moves into a new unit cannot pay more than 40% of its adjusted monthly income for rent. All tenant rental amounts are determined by the PHA and you must not pay more than what is indicated by this agency.

You pay your share to the owner on the first of the month just like you would if you didn’t have a voucher. The rest of the rent will be sent to the owner directly.

Will I have to pay a security deposit?

If the Owner/Agent requires a security deposit, and most do, you must pay the amount to the Owner/Agent. It cannot be more than one month’s rent.

How long do I have to stay in the apartment that I chose?

You will sign a lease with the landlord for at least one (1) year. After the first year, the landlord may initiate a new lease or allow you to remain in the unit on a month-to-month lease.

Will the rent increase?

After the first year, owners can request rent increases. The request is sent in writing to you and the housing authority at least sixty days prior to the effective date. You, as the tenant, must agree to the increase. Rent increase requests are reviewed to make sure it is reasonable. If your PHA decides that the request is reasonable, the change is made automatically. A person can only submit one section 8 application online per housing authority, but can do so at a different HA. If the housing authority thinks that the increase is too big, the owner has the opportunity to negotiate an acceptable increase. If the owner won’t negotiate the increase and the PHA doesn’t agree that the increase is reasonable, the owner may decide not to renew your lease, and you will have to find a new home when the lease expires.