Eviction from Section 8 Housing

Last Updated On: 4/23/2015 3:09:05 PM

I Have A Section 8 Voucher That Pays Part Of The Rent To The Landlord. If I Get Evicted From Section 8 Housing, How Will That Affect My Section 8 Voucher?

Your “Section 8 Voucher” was issued by a local public housing authority. With the Voucher, you can enter a lease with any private landlord who cooperates with the Section 8 Program. You pay about a third of your income toward the rent. The Housing Authority pays whatever portion of rent that isn’t covered by your share.

After you’ve been in a rental place for a year, you can choose to move and take your Section 8 Voucher with you. You will keep getting the benefit of the Section 8 Voucher, no matter where you live, as long as you keep your eligibility for the Voucher program. For many people, the Section 8 Voucher is far more important than the particular place where they live.

Most of the time, an eviction by the private landlord will ALSO cause you to lose your Section 8 Voucher. This article will tell you more about the ways that an eviction can hurt you in the future.

Unfortunately, some people they think they will keep their Section 8 Voucher after an eviction. So they decide not to fight the eviction and just move to another place. Then they lose their Section 8 Voucher BECAUSE they were evicted.

This article is to help you understand how an eviction can affect your Section 8 Voucher, and why it may be very important to fight the eviction. Even if you want to move after you win the case.

Does An Eviction Automatically Mean That I Will Lose My Section 8 Voucher?

Not necessarily. It depends on the reason for the eviction. But “most of the time” it will probably mean the loss of the Section 8 Voucher. Especially if the eviction is based on a violation of the lease.

Sometimes an eviction does NOT involve a violation of the lease. Maybe the landlord wants you out so his cousin Vinnie can move in. Or maybe the landlord just doesn’t like you, but you haven’t broken any rules in your lease. Maybe the landlord doesn’t want to do repairs that are needed to meet Section 8 rules. If the housing authority decides that you have done nothing wrong, you can keep your voucher.

Who Decides Whether I Keep My Section 8 Voucher?

Technically, only the Housing Authority decides whether you get to keep your Section 8 Voucher. But if a court has already said you violated the lease, there may not be much the Housing Authority can do to help.

If you think an eviction is wrong, you need to fight at both places. You need to defend the eviction case in court AND you need to show the Housing Authority that the landlord is wrong.

If you get a notice of eviction from the landlord, you will also get a letter from the Housing Authority telling you the Voucher will be “terminated” if the eviction goes through. If you disagree with the reason for eviction, you have the right to ask for a hearing at the Housing Authority about whether your Voucher should be taken away.

This means you may have to win the same fight twice. Once in court, and once at the Housing Authority.

If I Violate The Lease, Does That Cause Me To Lose My Section 8 Voucher?

Yes, usually if you breach your Section 8 lease you will be denied future Section 8 assistance.

Here are the most frequent reasons why people get evicted AND lose their Section 8 Voucher:

  • Eviction for non-payment of rent is “good cause” for losing your Section 8 Voucher.
  • Eviction for causing damage to the rental premises will cause you to lose your Section 8 Voucher.
  • Eviction for causing disturbances on the property will cause loss of Section 8 Voucher.
  • Eviction for threatening or harassing other tenants will cause loss of Section 8 Voucher.
  • Eviction for having “unauthorized” people living with you who are not on the lease will mean loss of your Section 8 Voucher.
  • Being evicted for poor housekeeping will cause loss of Section 8 Voucher.

These are not the only reasons that can also result on loss of a Section 8 Voucher. Any “substantial” violation of the lease that is enough for eviction is almost always ALSO enough for loss of Section 8 Voucher.

If I Lose My Section 8 Voucher, Can’t I Get Back On The List To Get Another One?

First of all, realize that in many areas, the waiting list for section 8 vouchers is usually 6 to 12 months, or more. That’s a long time without rental assistance payments.

Second, realize that the Housing Authority can choose to deny an application for a Voucher because of “adverse rental history.” The Housing Authority may think “if you broke the rules at the last place, you’re probably going to break the rules at the next place.” You really don’t want to take that chance if you can avoid it.

Third, as we’ll cover in a moment, there are some situations where the Housing Authority doesn’t have a choice. It is not permitted to give another Section 8 Voucher , or at least not for a long time. It isn’t a matter of what the Housing Authority “decides” to do.

What If I’m Evicted For Criminal Activity Or Drug Activity At The Rental Premises. How Does That Affect My Section 8 Voucher?

If you are evicted for using drugs, you will be denied ALL FORMS of federal housing assistance for three years. Whether Section 8 Voucher, or “public housing.” This applies to any Housing Authority anywhere in the nation. This is one of those situations where Housing Authorities don’t have a choice. Federal law says no one can be eligible for at least three years after an eviction for criminal activity or drug activity.

Even after the three years are up, Housing Authorities can still “consider” the criminal or drug activity as part of an “adverse rental history.” A Housing Authority may decide they just don’t want anyone with any criminal record. There’s not much you can do about that.

You should also realize that criminal activity by even one member of the family can affect the entire family's eligibility for federal housing assistance. Everyone in the home can be disqualified, even if the offender is kicked out and never comes back to the unit.

What If I Owe Some Money From My Section 8 Rental. Can I Get Section 8 Help In The Future?

If you owe money to the Housing Authority, or to the Section 8 landlord, you cannot get another Voucher UNLESS:

You have signed a “payment agreement” to pay a fixed amount of money each month, toward the debt you owe, AND

You are in fact making the monthly payments.

Signing a Payment Agreement isn’t enough. You have to make the payments. As long as you’re making the payments, a Housing Authority can consider giving you a Voucher. But if you aren’t making the payments, the Housing Authority has no choice. You cannot get a new Voucher.

You can “owe money” because you didn’t pay all the rent, or you didn’t pay the utility bill which was in the landlord’s name. You can also “owe money” if you caused damages, and you haven’t paid for the cost to fix the damage. If you left the place a mess, and it had to be cleaned up by someone else, you can be charged for the cost of the cleanup. All of these things can cause you to “owe money” to the Housing Authority or to the Section 8 landlord.

Suppose you have a Payment Agreement, and get a Voucher, and then can’t keep making the payments. Your Voucher can be cut off because you are not following the Payment Agreement.

Finally, if you are evicted for not paying rent you may be denied section 8 assistance in the future. This may be considered as part of “adverse rental history.”

So How Do I Avoid Problems Before I Move Out Of Section 8 Housing?

First of all, make sure you do not owe any money to the landlord or to the housing authority.

Second, if you do owe money to the landlord or the housing authority, work out a payment agreement and make the payments!

If you have a disagreement with your landlord and move out, be sure that there are no outstanding charges that will remain on your record. Clean the place thoroughly. Remove all trash and unwanted possessions. Repair all damage. Pay all rent.

Check with the landlord after you move out, and check with the Housing Authority. If either one claims you owe money due to that tenancy, deal with the problem.

This is general legal information. For guidance about your situation, talk to a lawyer.