Receiving a Housing Choice Voucher can change your life for the better. Once you have one, you won’t have to worry as much about getting evicted from your home. With monthly rental assistance from the government, meeting your budget now becomes much more manageable.
With a long wait now behind you, it’s time to find a Section 8 rental to move into. While this is probably the most exciting part of the entire housing voucher process, there are some rules you’ll need to follow when choosing a home.
Monthly Rent Amount
The local Public Housing Agency (PHA) determines how much rent is reasonable in your area. The maximum amount of rent you can pay every month with your voucher is known as the Payment Standard.
You’ll need to adhere to this amount and keep it in mind when looking for your Section 8 rental. Consider it your budget. If the rent of a place you seek is higher than the Payment Standard, you’ll have to pay the difference out of pocket.
You can find out the Payment Standard for your area by contacting your PHA. Do this before searching for new housing.
Housing Quality Standards
The U.S Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has Housing Quality Standards (HQS) that your home must meet to be eligible for voucher use.
While you aren’t limited to subsidized housing projects with a voucher, and you can pick between single-family homes, townhomes, and apartments, your home will need the following to qualify:
- Smoke detectors
- A working kitchen
- Temperature control
- Water availability
- Sanitary bathrooms
- Proper indoor air quality
- And more…
If it’s lacking in one area, that could disqualify it from being Section 8 voucher-worthy.
Inspectors will come to the home to make sure it meets the requirements. If it does, you’re good to go.
Some parts of the U.S. specifically protect Section 8 voucher holders via source of income (SOI) discrimination laws. They do so by making it illegal to refuse housing just because a voucher is involved. If you’re looking for a home in one of these areas so you can put your voucher to use, the landlords must accept it:
- New Jersey
- New York
- North Dakota
- Washington D.C.
Some counties and cities also offer Section 8 discrimination protection. Contact your PHA to find out where.
Where You Can and Cannot Use Section 8 Vouchers
You can use your housing voucher for homes or apartments owned by private landlords who accept Section 8. You can also use them where Section 8 is protected, as well as some more specific instances, which you can discover by asking your PHA.
You cannot use your housing voucher for properties that already provide rental assistance subsidies, such as Public or Indian Housing.
It also cannot be used on college campuses, or in medical, penal, or mental units. Again, contact your PHA for clarification before making a choice.
How to Find a Section 8 Rental
You can search for Section 8 rentals online or by contacting your PHA. They may be able to give you a list of landlords who accept housing vouchers to make your search easier.