You may know the Housing Choice Voucher Program as Section 8, which is a housing assistance subsidy program for low-income families. The government pays for a portion of rent if you qualify for these subsidies and adhere to the program’s requirements. However, you could lose your eligibility status if you break the rules.
Section 8 can reduce your monthly rent for public and private housing. If you fail to follow government regulations and your lease agreement, you could risk losing your housing vouchers and face eviction.
Breaking Your Lease Agreement
A lease is an agreement between you and your landlord. Most lease agreements state that you will pay your rent for the term, which is usually one year, and that you won’t intentionally damage the property. Disregarding the contract can result in eviction, whether you receive Section 8 assistance or not.
Your lease may define your responsibilities as a tenant, such as maintaining the rental property and keeping it free of safety and sanitary hazards. For instance, you may need to shovel the driveway when it snows or take garbage to the curb each week.
Some conditions stop you from doing something, like subletting, disturbing the neighbors, or operating a business on the property. Plus, you may face eviction or legal consequences for criminal activity.
Your landlord can give you and the local Public Housing Authority (PHA) eviction notices that name the reason for the termination. The time you have until you must leave the home depends if the eviction is grounds-based or for other good cause.
Failure to Report Damage Immediately
Accidents happen and structures can deteriorate. Property damage does not automatically result in eviction and loss of subsidies. Normal wear and tear may include slight marks on the walls, but excessive damage can impair normal functioning and value.
No matter how damage occurs, you must report damage to the landlord and the Public Housing Authority as soon as possible. For instance, you must tell your landlord if rain has caused water damage. Unreported damage could be a lease violation, even if you did not cause the destruction.
The PHA may pay the landlord if you are financially responsible for the damage. Then, you may need to repay the amount to the PHA. Or, the landlord may deduct the repair costs from your security deposit.
Not Reporting Household Changes
Your Section 8 voucher amount is based on your household size and income. You have 10 days to report changes to the local PHA if anything changes.
Only members of your family can live in your home. You must report additions to the household, such as newborn infants and new spouses or partners. The PHA and your landlord will need to know if other relatives, friends, or acquaintances move in temporarily or permanently.
You also need to notify the PHA if members of your household leave, such as someone dying or moving out. You may need to report kids leaving for college if they will live on campus.
The PHA may average your earnings if your income fluctuates throughout the year, or you may submit adjustment forms frequently.
Having Unauthorized Guests for a Long Time
Section 8 officials consider guests as anyone staying at your home who is not on your family report. Your significant other and relatives are guests if they are not documented members of your household.
The program limits the length of time guests can stay with you. You cannot have a guest stay for longer than 15 consecutive days or 30 total days in a year. The PHA can terminate your vouchers if you have guests for longer. For instance, the PHA may consider your significant other staying at your house every weekend as grounds for voucher denial.
You can apply for an extension if your guests need to stay for a longer time. Depending on the situation, the PHA may increase or decrease your rent responsibility for the period you have a guest. For instance, your rent may increase if your cousin stays with you while looking for a new job. Or your rent could decrease if you have to care for your niece while her parent is incarcerated.
Smoking Where You Should Not
Public housing does not allow you to smoke inside the building or within a 25-foot radius. The building may have a designated smoking area for cigarettes and cigars, but not other smokable substances.
Landlords with private rentals may also ban smoking in the unit or on property. Smoking restrictions are generally found in your lease agreement.