The Section 8 Voucher Program
Authored By: Legal Services Alabama
This article tells you how you can try to get a Section 8 voucher. It tells you about the rent you will have to pay. It also tells you how you can lose Section 8, and what you can do if your landlord tries to evict you.
Can I get a Section 8 voucher?
- If you have a low income, you may be eligible.
Some housing authorities put you toward the top of the waiting list if:
- you are homeless or living in a shelter or
- you need to move out of your home because of spouse abuse, or
- you have a disability, or
- you qualify for another local preference.
How do I apply?
- Call your local housing authority. You will probably have to go to their office to apply.
What do I need when I apply?
- Most housing authorities make you show a picture ID.
- If you do not have a driver's license, you may need to get a non-driver ID.
- You will also need proof of your income.
- You also must cooperate with the housing authority by signing releases.
What could keep me from getting a Section 8 voucher?
A housing authority may deny you if
- you have a criminal record, or
- someone in your household has a criminal record, or
- you have bad landlord references, or
- you owe money to the Housing Authority, or
- you were evicted from public housing within the last year.
- A housing authority may also deny you if it thinks you are abusing drugs.
What do I do after I get a Section 8 voucher?
You must find a house or apartment where the owner is willing to take Section 8.
- The landlord must ask the housing authority to approve the lease.
- The unit must pass Section 8 inspection before you move in.
- You must make all utility deposits within ten (10) days after the unit passes inspection and provide proof of this to your Section 8 worker.
How much rent do I pay?
- Your rent depends on your income and family size. You may pay one quarter of your income.
The housing authority figures utility costs when deciding what you pay in rent.
- The housing authority has a utility allowance for each apartment.
- If your rent is less than the utility allowance, you get a utility check each month.
How can I lose Section 8?
Housing authorities can end your voucher if
- you use illegal drugs, or
- you commit a serious crime, or
- you don't pay your rent on time, or
- you don't keep your apartment clean, or
- you disturb your neighbors, such as by playing music too loud, or
- you don't pay your light or gas bill, and you lose your lights or gas service, or
- you start getting some type of income and don't tell your Section 8 worker right away, or
- you let someone move in with you and don't report this new person and the new person's income to your Section 8 worker right away.
- If someone living in your household does any of these things, the housing authority can end your voucher.
- If someone visiting you does any of these things while visiting you, the housing authority can end your voucher.
What rights do I have if my landlord tries to evict me?
- You have the right to defend the eviction in Court.
- You can ask your Section 8 worker for a voucher to use at a new place to live.
- Even if you have done nothing wrong, your landlord does not have to renew your lease. However, if you have been on the Section 8 program for 12 months without doing anything wrong and your landlord chooses not to renew your lease, you are entitled to use your voucher somewhere else.
Can I move and keep my Section 8 voucher?
- If you have been at your house or apartment less than twelve months, your Section 8 worker may let you move.
If you have been at your house or apartment more than twelve months, your Section 8 worker has to let you move.
- You will need to let your landlord and your worker know you want to move. Give at least 30 days notice.
- Before you move out, you will have to get your landlord to sign a form saying whether you owe any money. You get this form from your Section 8 worker and give it back to her.
- Before you move out, you should tell your Section 8 worker where you want to move and give her time to inspect the new place.
- When you move out, you should get your landlord to sign a second form from your Section 8 worker saying what you owe. You should be there when your landlord does a move-out inspection.
- To get to move your Section 8 voucher, you will have to pay for any serious damages you caused. The housing authority can't make you pay whatever amount your landlord says you owe.
What rights do I have if the housing authority decides to stop my Section 8?
- You have a right to written notice telling you why.
In most cases, you will also have a right to have a hearing. At the hearing,
- You can have a lawyer with you.
- You can tell your side of the story.
- You can ask questions of witnesses.
- If the hearing officer rules against you, you have ten (10) days to appeal your case to federal court.
Reviewed May 2010
AlabamaLegalHelp.org offers legal information, not legal advice. We try hard to make sure this website accurately explains your rights and options. However, the site does not apply the law to your personal facts. For this sort of legal advice, you should call a lawyer. To apply for free legal services in Alabama, call the Legal Services Alabama office that is closest to where you live OR call toll-free 1-866-456-4995. You can also apply online at intake.alsp.org.