Section 8, like any other government program, has rules and guidelines that must be followed. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) oversees and finances the Section 8 program, and the public housing authorities (PHAs) issue the housing vouchers based on the determined eligibility. Each department plays a significant role in the program. However, the PHAs are the ones who approve or deny applications to the program. Most denials are issued to applicants who cannot meet the eligibility requirements, most commonly regarding the household income.
Also, current program participants can have vouchers terminated if they no longer meet the qualifications, have been convicted of a certain crime, or become evicted from a Section 8 rental. In some cases, false information can be cause for denial. Click Here for more information about Section *.
If an applicant believes they were wrongly denied they have the right to appeal the decision.
What To Do If A Section 8 Application Is Denied?
If an application is denied or a household is facing termination from the program, it is mandatory for the PHA to send a formal Section 8 denial letter in the mail, which is why it’s so important to keep all information up-to-date. The denial notice will explain the reason for denial or dismissal of the program and states the individual’s right to appeal the decision in a timely manner.
If the applicant chooses to appeal the denial, they must do so within a certain period of time determined by the PHA. To begin the appeals process, the applicant must submit a request for an informal hearing. The PHA is then responsible for hiring an impartial third party to review the case and conduct a hearing. The hearing officer is someone who played no part in the decision to deny/terminate the applicant’s benefits. If the request is accepted, the applicant is responsible for preparing for their case.
Common Reasons For Denial Of A Housing Choice Voucher
Each PHA is required to follow specific guidelines for Section 8 eligibility (back link here on eligibility) and enrollment but is still able to determine some of their own standards for the area. There are several reasons why a PHA may deny an application for a housing voucher, such as:
- A household earns a higher income than the PHA’s fixed income limits
- Failure to respond to necessary information on their application
- Failure to respond to a notice regarding the status on the waitlist
- Failure to attend the Section 8 mandatory interview
Tenants already in the program may have their benefits terminated if they commit fraud, receive an eviction notice or convicted of a certain crime.
- Fraud: Committing fraud in with their enrollment in the Section 8 program
- Eviction: Eviction notice from their Section 8 landlord
- Crime: Convicted of a violent or drug-related crim on the grounds of the rental, or another location.
Before deciding on whether to deny or terminate a household, PHAs will take many factors into consideration, such as the severity of the case and the effects the termination would have on the rest of the family
Denial From A Landlord
PHAs do not have control if a landlord will accept a housing voucher. Landlords have the right to deny anyone if he/she does not meet the requirements for the rental property. To stay in good standing with the landlord it is important to maintain the property and always pay the portion of the rent.
How To Appeal A Section 8 Denial
First, review the denial notice and gather all relevant documents to present to the hearing official to support the claim of being wrongfully denied from the program. Documents to consider bringing to the case:
- Income statements
- Financial documents
- Initial application
- Lease agreement
- Emails from a landlord
- Emails from PHA
- Citizenship paperwork
- Witness statements or police reports
- Section 8 contract
- Medical Expenses
Each applicant has the right to legal representation during the case. Applicants are free to hire a lawyer or other legal representation to present their case during the hearing. After the applicant has presented its case, the PHA will submit its reasons for the denial.
The hearing officer will then issue the final decision after hearing both sides. If the applicant is currently enrolled in the program, the PHA is not allowed to terminate the benefits while the appeals process is in effect. Housing vouchers remain intact until the hearing officer formally makes a decision.
Section 8 Evictions Process
Evictions are made through the landlord and not the PHA, which require different steps to be taken than a denial notice. If evicted, the tenant is required to report the eviction to the PHA as soon as it happens. Each tenant has the right to challenge the eviction in court.
During the court case, a tenant will remain receiving their benefits until the court makes its final decision. If the eviction is confirmed and the PHA decides to withdraw the housing voucher, there is still another option. The tenant may request an informal hearing.
However, it can be difficult to contest a denial if it is supported by a court order. Obviously the best way to avoid evictions is to follow the lease terms and maintain the rental property accordingly.