Finders Keepers” and Rental Property Listings
The federally-funded Section 8 Housing Assistance Program is a “Finders Keepers” program; voucher holders are responsible for finding their dwelling unit on their own. However, to assist in the search for suitable housing, LTRAP maintains a list of rental units offered for rent by landlords who desire to participate in the Section 8 Program. The listing is updated regularly, and is posted at the LTRAP office. Voucher holders are urged to also seek other methods for finding rental units, such as newspaper ads, local realtors, and apartment mangers. Because the time limit for finding a unit is so short, and suitable units are so scarce, the voucher holder is well-advised to begin the search right away, and to pursue all leads diligently.
Vouchers are the credentials that show that the holder is eligible to receive a housing subsidy. These documents are issued in the name of the head-of-household, bear the date of issue, date of expiration, and unit size (eligible bedroom size); and detail how the Housing Authority will enter into a Housing Assistance Payments contract with a housing provider, to pay a rent subsidy on behalf of the holder to lease a qualified unit.
Vouchers also list the important Obligations of the Family, which must be fulfilled to remain in good standing on the Section 8 Program.
Rents in the Section 8 Voucher Program
The Voucher Program operates under Payment Standards (PS) which are determined by LTRAP in accordance with federal regulations. Like Fair Market Rents, Payment Standards are also published by bedroom size, but rather than stipulating a maximum amount of contract rent, they are the basis for determining LTRAP’s share of the rent. The following example illustrates:
- A new Section 8 tenant and landlord agree that $1,250 is a reasonable rent for the landlord’s three bedroom unit.
- LTRAP has determined that $350 is 30% of the tenant’s monthly adjusted income.
- LTRAP subtracts $350 from the three bedroom Voucher Payment Standard of $1,243 resulting in a subsidy of $893.
- The tenant’s share of the rent is the balance of $357, ($1,250 less $893.)
LTRAP pays $893 directly to the landlord each month, and the landlord must collect $357 from the tenant.
Housing Choice Voucher Payment Standards*
Lakewood Township Residential Assistance Program (LTRAP)
|* Information is subject to change without notice.|
While utility costs do not figure directly into the calculation of Voucher subsidies, they are taken into consideration by LTRAP when establishing the Payment Standards.
The above examples generally illustrate the results of subsidy calculations for most Voucher holders, but may not reflect the influence of more complex factors where other regulations and policies apply.
Section 8 “Obligations of the Family”
The following is a summary of the Obligations of the Family as stated on the Section 8 Voucher.
What the family must do:
The family must supply all information necessary to complete a periodic re-examination of family income and composition, and to verify the family’s residence in the unit. All information supplied by the family must be true and complete.
The family must notify LTRAP of any absence from the unit, before moving out of the unit; and must give LTRAP a copy of any eviction notice. The subsidized unit must be the family’s only residence.
The family must notify LTRAP after a birth, adoption, or legal-custodial arrangement; and when a family member no longer continues to live in the unit.
The family must notify LTRAP immediately of any change in income.
The family must request written approval from LTRAP to add any other family member. The family must pay all utility bills and supply all appliances that the owner is not required to provide under the lease, and the family must allow the Housing Authority to inspect the unit.
What the family must not do:
The family must not own or have any interest in the subsidized unit, or commit any serious or repeated violation of the lease.
The family must not damage the unit, and cannot sublease the unit.
The family must not participate in illegal drug activity or violent criminal activity; or commit any criminal act in connection with the program, such as fraud, bribery, and side payments to landlords.
The family must not receive Section 8 assistance while receiving another housing subsidy of any type.
It is important to remember that both Section 8 tenants and landlords have significant obligations above and beyond the basic responsibilities required under state law, such as may be found in the Obligations of the Family, the Housing Quality Standards, and those agreed to in the Section 8 Lease and the Housing Assistance Payments Contract.
Renting to or from Relatives
The following relatives are ineligible for rental assistance when renting from an owner: the Owner’s children, grandchildren, siblings, parents, and grandparents. In other words, if any member of the tenant household is a son, daughter, grandchild, parent, grandparent, or sibling of the owner they are ineligible to receive Section 8 assistance in that unit. Other relatives are not disqualified, such as nephews, nieces, aunts, uncles, cousins, and non-blood relatives such as, a brother-in-law who owns the home in his own name, or a step-parent. In such cases, however, if there is a spouse who is a blood relative, that spouse may not have any ownership interest in the unit.