Once applicants are approved for a Section 8 housing voucher, they are responsible for finding a unit to live in. Although beneficiaries may choose whatever housing they wish, the unit must be approved through their public housing authority (PHA) before they may move in. Some PHAs offer Section 8 housing lists with pre-approved units to make the search process easier.
Beneficiaries may also choose to search for housing through other avenues such as newspapers or apartment search services. However, this may require a longer approval process than using a pre-approved listing. Beneficiaries should also keep in mind that certain types of housing are ineligible for rent with a Section 8 housing voucher. Continue reading for more information on how to use a Section 8 housing list and conduct a housing search.
What is an approved Section 8 housing list?
PHAs often offer an approved Section 8 housing list so that recipients can quickly and easily find housing. These lists may be available in person at the PHA, but they are also usually available online. These listings are typically properties that the program has worked with in the past. This offers two main benefits:
- The landlords are already familiar with the Section 8 program and willing to work under the terms of the program.
- The units already meet the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) housing standards.
Section 8 recipients typically only have a set amount of time, such as 60 days, to find housing after being issued a voucher. Therefore, they may choose to use pre-approved listings so that they can meet the deadline set by the PHA.
Recipients may access a Section 8 housing list by visiting their PHA or online. Some PHAs may give access to their listings directly on their site while others may partner with another organization to provide the list on another website or platform. Either way, a PHA will be able to point renters in the right direction when it comes to finding Section 8 listings.
Alternatives to a PHA Section 8 Housing List
Although a PHA housing list may be a helpful tool, Section 8 recipients are not required to choose a unit from the list. Section 8 is a tenant-based program, meaning that recipients do not have to live in a particular housing complex to receive benefits. For this reason, you may consider looking for Section 8 housing listings online or through newspaper listings.
If you choose to conduct your apartment search online, many apartment search services have settings that help individuals find low income apartments for rent. Some websites you may consider using include Craigslist or Apartment Guide. You can narrow down your results by adjusting the maximum price point on the search filters. Some services even offer a “low income” setting. This may be helpful because PHAs assess the amount of rent a landlord charges to compare it to the fair market value for the area.
PHAs will not necessarily reject a unit if the rent is not equivalent to the Fair Market Value. However, if the landlord of a Section 8 listing requests rent that is too high, the PHA may attempt to negotiate for a lower rate. This may include asking to lower the rent or to include utilities over the rent. The purpose of Section 8, and the responsibility of the PHA, is to ensure that the family does not spend more than 40 percent of its gross adjusted income on rent. If an agreement between the PHA and the landlord cannot be met, the family will be asked to find different housing.
Many services also offer apartment for rent apps so that you can search for listings on your mobile device. When using an app, you may save searches and choose to be notified when new listings matching your criteria become available.
Newspaper or online housing listings may make your search easier by including “Section 8 accepted” or “Section 8 welcome” in the unit’s description. That indicates that the landlord is willing to work under the program requirements and with the PHA. However, representatives from the PHA will still need to inspect the unit before you move in.
Quality Standards for Section 8 Listings
Because you are responsible for locating housing on your own as a Section 8 recipient, it is important to know the HUD-established rules for rental units. First, the landlord of the unit must agree to work with the Section 8 program. By law, a landlord may refuse to rent to recipients. Once they agree to work with the program, landlords may need to go through their own eligibility approval program for both the landlord and the unit.
When inspecting rental units, the PHA will look to verify that the unit complies with the 13 standards of safety outlined by HUD. In general, these standards relate to the:
- Structural integrity and foundational materials of the unit.
- Overall sanitation of the building, water and air.
- Quality of the surrounding environment.
Section 8 listings that do not meet these standards will not be accepted by the PHA. Moreover, annual inspections of the rental unit will take place in addition to the initial inspection to ensure that standards continue to be met.
Units Not Available as Section 8 Housing Listings
There are some types of units that cannot be considered Section 8 listings because they are ineligible for the program. Therefore, you may not use your Section 8 voucher in any of the following housing types:
- Public or Indian housing
- Housing that receives assistance from the project-based Section 8 program
- Student housing
- Rehabilitation housing
- Nursing homes or housing that provides continual medical, nursing or psychiatric services
Using a Section 8 housing list may help you identify which rental units you may rent under the program.