Affordable Housing / Section 8

How to Get a Property Section 8 Approved

July 5, 2023

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The Steps To Getting A Property Section 8 Approved

For many landlords, housing Section 8 tenants is a great way to secure guaranteed rental income while maintaining access to a reliable pool of prospective renters.  

However, before you can start accepting housing vouchers through the Section 8 program, you must get your property approved. This involves registering with a local public housing agency, undergoing a thorough inspection, and maintaining standards of habitability for your renters. 

In this article, we break down the steps you’ll need to take to get your property Section 8 approved and start accepting voucher families into your rentals. 

How to Get your Property Approved for Section 8/Housing Choice Voucher Program 

There are two components of the Housing Choice Voucher program: the tenant-based voucher program and the project-based housing program (PBV). In most cases when people talk about the Section 8 program, they’re referring to the former. 

Rental subsidies in the tenant-based program are assigned to tenants, not properties. A rental unit in this program only has the “Section 8” designation when a Section 8 tenant is living there. However, there is still a process you must undergo to get your property approved for their residency. Here are the steps you should know: 

Step 1: Fill Out Section 8 Paperwork with Your Local PHA 

The first step towards getting approved to rent to Section 8 families is to contact your local public housing agency, or PHA. PHAs administer the Section 8 program locally and are responsible for distributing voucher funds to tenants who meet the criteria.  

The PHA will send you more information about the program and paperwork for getting started. To register your property, you’ll need personal identification, basic information about your rental unit (like the size and type of the unit), and your asking rate. 

Step 2: Schedule a PHA Inspection 

After your application has been approved, your next step is to schedule a PHA inspection. This inspection is a thorough review of the condition of your property in preparation for Section 8 tenants. 

The PHA representative will use this HUD checklist when inspecting your property. For each room in the unit, the inspector will check to see whether there are any hazards and mark either mark ‘pass’ or ‘fail.’ They’ll also add comments to indicate anything that needs changed. Here are the elements the inspector will check for the living and non-living rooms of the unit: 

Living Room 
1.1 Living room present 
1.2 Electricity 
1.3 Electrical hazards 
1.4 Security 
1.5 Window condition 
1.6 Ceiling condition 
1.7 Wall condition 
1.8 Floor condition 
1.9 Lead-based paint hazards  

Kitchen 
2.1 Kitchen area present 
2.2 Electricity 
2.3 Electrical hazards 
2.4 Security 
2.5 Window condition 
2.6 Ceiling condition 
2.7 Wall condition 
2.8 Floor condition 
2.9 Lead-based paint hazards 
2.10 Stove or range with oven 
2.11 Refrigerator 
2.12 Sink 
2.13 Space for storage, preparation, and serving of food  

Bathroom  
3.1 Bathroom present 
3.2 Electricity 
3.3 Electrical hazards 
3.4 Security 
3.5 Window condition 
3.6 Ceiling condition 
3.7 Wall condition 
3.8 Floor condition 
3.9 Lead-based paint hazards 
3.10 Flush toilet in enclosed room in unit 
3.11 Fixed wash basin or lavatory in unit 
3.12 Tub or shower in unit 
3.13 Ventilation
  
Other rooms used for living and halls 
4.1 Room code and room location 
4.2 Electricity/illumination 
4.3 Electrical hazards 
4.4 Security 
4.5 Window condition 
4.6 Ceiling condition 
4.7 Wall condition 
4.8 Floor condition 
4.9 Lead-based paint hazards 
4.10 Smoke detectors  

All secondary rooms (not used for living) 
5.2 Security 
5.3 Electrical hazards 
5.4 Other potentially hazardous features 

The inspector will also assess the condition of the rental building itself, including its exterior, foundation, HVAC system, and other general health and safety code requirements. Here’s what they’ll look for: 

Building exterior 
6.1 Condition of foundation 
6.2 Condition of stairs, rails, and porches 
6.3 Condition of roofs/gutters 
6.4 Condition of exterior surfaces 
6.5 Condition of chimney 
6.6 Lead paint on exterior surfaces 
6.7 For manufactured homes: tie downs  

Heating and plumbing 
7.1 Adequacy of heating equipment  
7.2 Safety of heating equipment 
7.3 Ventilation/cooling 
7.4 Water heater 
7.5 Approvable water supply 
7.6 Plumbing 
7.7 Sewer connection  

General health and safety 
8.1 Access to unit 
8.2 Fire exits 
8.3 Evidence of infestation 
8.4 Garbage and debris 
8.5 Refuse disposal 
8.6 Interior stairs and common halls 
8.7 Other interior hazards 
8.8 Elevators 
8.9 Interior air quality 
8.10 Site and neighborhood conditions 
8.11 Lead-based paint 

Step 3: Market Your Section 8 Property 

After the unit passes its initial inspection, the next step is to market your Section 8 property and fill the unit. There will be some additional paperwork you’ll need to complete beforehand (e.g., a W-9 form and/or direct deposit information so you can start receiving voucher payments from the HUD). However, marketing and filling your unit is now your main priority. 

Your local PHA might have a list of Section 8 properties for rent they keep on a website or know of other resources to list Section 8 approved homes for rent. You can also advertise your properties as Section 8-friendly on your usual listing sites to attract renters.  

Step 4: Maintain Your Property for Annual Re-Inspections 

After you’ve filled your unit, you will sign a contract with the PHA to finalize the rent payment and voucher amounts. However, you aren’t off the hook in terms of keeping your property eligible. You’ll need to arrange for a Section 8 yearly inspection in order to continue receiving vouchers for the family each year.  

The PHA inspector will go through the above checklist for each Section 8 property. They will also ask the tenant currently living there a series of questions about the condition of the unit and inquire about whether the needs of the family are being met. The biggest downside of these inspections is that they take time and can often be quite strict. However, if you want to continue renting to the family and receive guaranteed income via the vouchers, it’s a price you must pay.  

How to Get Your Property Approved for Project-Based Voucher (PBV) Program 

The project-based housing program is the second component of Section 8. This program has the same purpose and major elements as the Housing Choice Voucher program. However, in this program, vouchers are assigned to individual properties, not families.  

If you have a unit that you’d like to permanently set aside for Section 8, you can do so by getting approved for the PBV program. Properties for the PBV program are chosen competitively by PHAs, although in some cases a project may be selected non-competitively. Funding is then allocated from the tenant-based voucher program to the project-based voucher program. 

You can also work with a PHA to build or rehabilitate Section 8 housing. Start by getting in contact with your local PHA and discussing the needs and options for the community. The HUD provides a lot of information about this program, including housing assistance payment (HAP) contracts for existing properties and new construction/rehabilitation. Your PHA should walk you through the process for either option. However, you’ll still need to maintain the same standards of habitability and keep up with regular maintenance as you would with the tenant-based voucher program. 

Conclusion 

Choosing to accept a Section 8 tenant or transition your properties into Section 8 housing can lead to great rewards for many landlords: reliable income, regular rent increases, and consistent demand for your rentals even when demand on the private market is low. However, Section 8 isn’t for everyone, and in order to obtain (and keep) approval for this program, maintaining your properties is your biggest priority.  

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