Section 8 Housing Policies

Section 8, also known as the Housing Choice Voucher Program, is a federal program designed to help low-income families obtain affordable housing. There are a number of Section 8 housing policies affecting both tenant and landlord. These policies attempt to ensure that those who need help get it, as well as providing a safe environment in Section 8 housing and defending the rights of property owners.


Section 8 is a product of the Housing and Community Development Act of 1974. The act frees low-income families from housing projects, allowing them to live in a number of apartments and houses that accept Section 8 vouchers. Over 2,500 local housing authorities administer the program. For example, the New York City Housing Authority distributes the bulk of over 100,000 housing vouchers, as of 2010. The program receives funding from Congress, appropriated every year in the annual budget.


Eligibility is determined by local housing authorities and can vary from one municipality to another. However, federal law requires that those with Section 8 vouchers pay 30 percent of their rent. Priority is placed by different housing authorities on different segments of the population. For example, the New York City Housing Authority prioritizes the homeless, those in housing authority buildings being renovated and those living in buildings prior to administration by the housing authority. Check with your local housing authority for specific local guidelines.

Rules For Landlords

Landlords are subject to a number of Section 8 housing policies. It is the responsibility of landlords to screen all tenants, as the housing authority only screens for eligibility. All Section 8 properties must pass an inspection by the local housing authority. Leases must be for at least one full year. Landlords are free to set their own policies with regard to rent. They must apply 60 days in advance of the end of the lease for rent increases with the local housing authority.

Rules for Tenants

Tenants have rights and responsibilities under Section 8 outlined by the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Tenants have the right to decent housing, timely repairs and reasonable notice of all inspections. They have the right to join tenants' associations. Additionally, tenants must comply with all terms of the lease. The law requires those receiving assistance to report any changes in income. They cannot engage in any criminal activity on the property, or they may lose benefits.