What Are Section 8 Apartments?


Apr 26, 2018

Section 8 Apartments are privately owned units rented to low income families, disabled persons or the elderly. Apartments are rented at the fair market value. Any difference between the amount the tenant pays and the total rental amount is government subsidized.

Landlords and properties must be approved before participating in the program and rates are compared to those in the surrounding area to confirm the rent amount is fair. Once the landlord, the property, and the rent amount are approved, the property can be rented. There are many apartments that accept section 8 renters and can be a great place to live. 

A Public Housing Authority will pay the portion of the rental not paid by the tenant. Tenants have responsibilities including taking the initiative to locate a unit, living in the unit and not obtaining it for use by others, paying required deposits and paying the rent not covered by the rental voucher. Tenants must also follow lease terms, provide notification regarding changes in family size or income, and notify appropriate parties if moving.

The Advantages and Disadvantages of Section 8 Apartments for Landlords

The benefits to tenants from section 8 apartments are fairly obvious. Tenants also benefit from Section 8 apartments. The affordable housing provided by the Section 8 program means those lower income families, disabled persons, and the elderly are able to live in clean, safe housing. But what about the landlords?

Despite the a negative perception that many people have of Section 8 housing, the program's positive aspects can outweigh the negative ones. For landlords, Section 8 provides guaranteed, stable rent payments usually from long-term renters. The pool of renters is also very large. Renters are required to maintain the property and keep it clean. Landlords are also able to have their monthly rent reassessed every year.

The biggest drawback to the Section 8 program is that it does not work for all landlords and tenants. Landlords find themselves faced with the bureaucracy of the government. Getting a tenant placed and receiving the first rent payment may not occur on the day the lease begins so landlords must be prepared to deal with the possibility of a financial delay. Landlords are also subject to inspections that can result in costly repairs that would not be required if they rented to private parties. Tenants can be unpredictable as well. Many will follow the rules and pay their portion of the rent on time but others may not feel invested in the property. This can result in late payments and damage to the property. Recourse for situations like this can be more trouble than it is worth resulting in a landlord incurring unwanted repairs and the bureaucracy involved in terminating a lease.

Important Section 8 Facts

  • The Section 8 program is administered by the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development.
  • Public Housing Authorities receive federal funds and issue these funds in the form of housing vouchers.
  • Housing vouchers make up the difference between the fair market rental value of an apartment and the amount Section 8 policies dictate a renter should be paying.
  • To qualify for Section 8 each family's annual income cannot exceed 50% of the median for the local area.
  • Public Housing Authorities are responsible for reviewing the makeup and income of a family living in Section 8 apartments annually and the Public Housing Authority also inspects properties yearly to make sure that they meet the housing standards.
  • Wait times for Section 8 housing can be long due to demand exceeding the supply of available properties.
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