Alabama Association of Housing & Redevelopment Authorities
Housing Professionals Serving the State

Section 8 Rental Assistance Program
(Housing Choice Vouchers, HCV)

Under the Section 8 program, the family is declared eligible based on income verifications, criminal history and other background checks by the local Housing Authority (HA). The family is then issued a voucher and chooses a decent, safe, and sanitary unit to live in. If the owner agrees to lease the unit to the family and if the local HA approves the unit, the HA will enter into a Housing Assistance Payments (HAP) contract with the owner to make monthly payments to the owner to help the family pay the rent.

The local HA determines the amount of the monthly housing assistance payment to be made based on HUD guidelines. Generally, the monthly housing assistance payment by the local HA is the difference between the contract rent in the lease and the tenant rent (usually 30% of the monthly adjusted family income).

When the family finds a suitable unit and the owner agrees to participate in the Section 8 Program, the family must give the local HA a request for lease approval signed by the owner and family. Before the family is approved to move in, the local HA must determine that all program requirements are met, the unit is eligible and has passed Housing Quality Standards, the rent is reasonable and does not exceed fair market rent limitations and the lease is approved and includes the HUD lease addendum.

Housing Quality Standards
All units under the Section 8 program must comply with HQS both at initial occupancy and during the term of the assisted lease. Housing Quality Standards are the minimum standards set by HUD that a unit must meet to be considered for acceptability for the Section 8 program. These standards include the following key aspects of housing quality:
  • Sanitary facilities
  • Food preparation and refuse disposal
  • Space and security
  • Thermal environment
  • Illumination and electricity
  • Structure and materials
  • Interior air quality
  • Water supply
  • Lead-based paint
  • Access
  • Site and neighborhood
  • Sanitary condition
  • Smoke detectors

Rent Reasonableness
Each unit inspected will also be certified that the approved contract rent is reasonable in relation to rents charged for comparable units in the private unassisted market. Factors taken into account will be:
  • Location
  • Size
  • Type
  • Quality
  • Amenities
  • Facilities
  • Management
  • Maintenance services



Landlord (Owner) Responsibilities

The owner is responsible for performing all of the owner’s obligations under the HAP contract and the lease. The owner is responsible for:
  • Performing all management and rental functions for the assisted unit including adequate screening techniques to determine if the family is suitable for tenancy.
  • Maintaining the unit in accordance with Housing Quality Standards, including performance of ordinary and extraordinary maintenance.
  • Complying with equal opportunity requirements.
  • Preparing and furnishing to the Housing Authority information required under the Housing Assistance Payments Contract.
  • Collecting from the family any security deposit and tenant contribution of the rent.
  • Any charges for unit damage by the family.
  • Enforcing tenant obligations under the lease.
  • Paying for any utilities not paid directly by the family.
  • Making reasonable accommodations for unit reconfigurations to assist the disabled.

Family Responsibilities

The family is responsible for:
  • Supplying all information required by the Housing Authority or HUD necessary for proper administration of the program.
  • Giving true and accurate facts concerning income, family composition and any other required information.
  • Performing all obligations listed in the lease and on the voucher.
  • Allowing inspections by the Housing Authority or HUD at reasonable times and after reasonable notice.
  • Immediately notifying the Housing Authority of changes in income, family composition, intentions to move or lease terminations.
  • The actions and behaviors of family members and guests or other persons under their control.

The family shall not:
  • Engage in drug-related or criminal activity, including alcohol abuse.
  • Sublease or let the unit.
  • Commit fraud of any type including misrepresenting income, family composition, and receiving other federal housing assistance while on this program.