Section 8 housing means that renters of low incomes are provided financial assistance from the state government. This Section 8 housing assistance is provided by the distribution of vouchers to subsidize rent. Renters can be restricted to living in public housing (project-based vouchers), but they can also rent from private landlords (tenant-based vouchers). There are several rules and regulations that must be adhered to avoid losing rights to the vouchers. Violating these rules could even result in eviction, so it is important to be familiar with them.
You Cannot Break Your Lease in Any Way
There are, of course, obvious behaviors by any tenant that could result in eviction from any rental: criminal activity, willful destruction of property, disturbing the peace, and so on. However, there may be small things in your lease, which, if overlooked, could result in you losing your voucher. Especially if you are renting privately, make sure you go through the lease carefully to make sure that you are sure what is constituted as a violation.
Many people think that you cannot have pets in Section 8 housing. Generally, you should be allowed a pet, but only with permission, and different buildings may have different rules. This should be covered in the lease. You may be required to pay a protective deposit, although the same restrictions should not apply to service animals.
You Cannot Leave Damage Unreported
No matter what the damage to the unit or property, it cannot be left unreported. Doing so will generally be considered a lease violation. If any payment is owed for the damage, the Housing Authority can pay the amount to your landlord, and you can pay back the amount to the Housing Authority. It is always a good idea to make a record of your contact with the landlord in these cases. You should also make a point to record the damage, itself. If there is any damage to the unit or property when you first move in, you should record it and contact the landlord right away.
You Cannot Fail to Report Changed Circumstances
If the size of your household changes, you must report the change within 10 days. The official members of your household are accounted for in your family report. If anyone not on this list is found to be staying with you, you may lose your voucher. This includes newborn infants, siblings or other relatives moving in with you, as well as spouses and partners. You should also notify the Housing Authority if your household shrinks at all. This may possibly be due to a break-up, or adult children moving away. Any changes to your income should also be reported within 10 days. This includes both lowered and raised income levels. The income reported should include the entire household’s earnings. The amount of money accounted for by your voucher is generally adjusted to reect the household income.
You Cannot Have Unauthorized Guests for an Extended Time
If someone staying with you is not on your family report, that means that he or she is officially a guest. This includes partners and relatives. A guest may not stay with you for more than 15 consecutive days. He or she may also not stay for more than a 30-day total over a one-year period. If you have a guest staying with you for longer than this, you may lose your voucher. You can apply for an official extension of these allowed times. However, it is best to do it as soon as possible, in case the time runs out before permission is granted. If this happens, your rent may be raised, and you may have to pay retroactively for the time the person spent staying with you. You may even get evicted, depending on the circumstances.
You May Not Be Allowed to Smoke
If you live in public housing, you will not be allowed to smoke inside the building. This includes cigarette, cigars, pipes and water pipes. The restriction should apply to a perimeter of 25 feet around the building, to eliminate the chance of second-hand smoke inhalation for other residents. There will usually be a designated area beyond the 25-foot boundary where you will be allowed to smoke. For private rentals, whether you can smoke or not will depend on the lease. If you cannot find anything on your lease referring to it, you should make a point to ask your landlord what the rules are. If smoking is banned in your building, there may be a smoking area outside.