Section 8 Housing Tenant Disqualifications

A termination of your Section 8 voucher benefits may happen due to several reasons. The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) enforces rules within the Section 8 program that tenants must adhere to. From reporting changes in income to abstaining from any criminal activity, Section 8 tenants must follow strict rules to remain eligible for housing assistance. While the HUD does have standard nationwide regulations, some regulations vary from one local PHA to the next.

One of the biggest reasons for assistance termination is failing to adhere to Section 8’s income reporting requirements. As Section 8 eligibility is strongly determined by income, agencies ask that tenants report their income and employment records. Failure to report changes in income can lead to a termination of your voucher benefits. However, this is not the only reason why you may face disqualification. For more information on the reasons for Section 8 voucher terminations, review the sections below. 

Criminal Activity

Participating in criminal activity is one of many Section 8 tenant violations that will result in termination of assistance. Criminal activity includes using or distributing illegal drugs or committing acts of violence. When tenants move into an approved Section 8 housing unit, all residents agree to stay away from any activity that is illegal. This includes guests and any person who is under the tenant’s control. If a resident is charged and found guilty of a criminal act, this goes against HUD’s Section 8 tenant rules. As such, the local PHA will evaluate the details of the situation and consider some of the following:

  • The gravity of the offense
  • Its effect on the community
  • The extent of the tenant’s involvement in the offense

The Section 8 termination process varies from one agency to the next. Local PHAs consider several factors before making a decision. For example, if residents in a Section 8 housing unit used illegal drugs, the PHA might decide against termination if the Section 8 tenants take steps toward remedying the situation, such as attending a rehabilitation program. With this in mind, it is important to understand that every case is different and may result in different results. 

Non-Reporting

The HUD has strict Section 8 income reporting requirements for those who want to remain in the program. The program determines Section 8 eligibility based on several factors, but the primary factor is income. Every year, all tenants who reside in the housing unit must report details on their employment and income. The local public housing agency (PHA) then uses this information to recertify tenant eligibility. If tenants fail to disclose proper supporting documentation for their Social Security Numbers (SSNs) and other verification evidence, they may be terminated due to noncompliance. In some cases, the local PHA may grant the residents an additional 90 days to complete the Section 8 recertification process if the delay was due to unforeseen circumstances. 

Along with not reporting income to Section 8 agencies, not reporting changes in employment is also cause for termination of benefits. The PHAs uses a combination of factors to assess if a tenant remains in the income level to receive assistance. They consider Social Security compensation, employment and unemployment benefits, among other variables. If a tenant experiences a change in one of these areas, they must follow proper steps for notifying the local PHA. Every PHA sets its own time frame for notifications. In some states like Washington, tenants must do so within 10 days of any change.

Failure to Pay Rent on Time

Not paying rent on time is another Section 8 tenant violation that may result in assistance termination. When tenants sign their rental agreements with their landlords, they agree to pay a portion of their rent on a monthly basis. If a tenant fails to pay on time, this does not automatically lead to a termination of assistance. In some cases, landlords will work out an agreement with the tenant. This generally includes a short extension to pay the rent or a fine for late payments. However, if a tenant displays a continuous habit of paying late or not paying at all, this may lead to the Section 8 tenant’s eviction. In this case, the tenant may not get the security deposit back, as it may be used to cover the missed rent payment. 

In special circumstances, Section 8 tenants may decide to withhold their payment for the rent. If tenants believe a unit’s condition endangers their wellbeing, they may withhold rent payment. However, there are specific procedures that tenants must follow in this scenario, and these procedures vary by state. Generally, the first step tenants must take is contacting the landlord. If the unit requires repairs or maintenance, the tenant must submit the request to the landlord. If the landlord does not respond in a reasonable time frame, then tenants may have cause to withhold rent. It is important to note that withholding rent may be a Section 8 tenant violation in some states. As such, tenant must consult with their local PHA before making any important decisions. 

Other Breaches of Contract

The termination of your Section 8 voucher may also be due to a breach of contract. The rental agreement lists the landlord and tenant’s responsibilities and rights. It often includes tenants’ duty to maintain the unit’s sanitary and safe condition. Every year, the PHA conducts property inspections to ensure properties are up to housing quality standards. Precluding repairs that fall under the landlord’s responsibilities, tenants must preserve the unit’s condition to the best of their abilities. If there is noticeable neglect, this may be cause for the Section 8 termination process to begin.

Under current laws, any unauthorized household member living in a Section 8 house is violating the rules of the program. Tenants must report all people residing in their units. Every resident must submit employment and income information to become a permanent resident in the home. Therefore, tenants must immediately inform their landlords and local PHAs of a new members in the households. Additional violations include:

  • Disturbing neighboring residents.
  • Not living in the unit.
  • Breaking the lease without appropriate notice.