(Daily360) – Also known as Section 8 housing, Housing Choice Vouchers permit low-income individuals and families to find housing in areas where they might not otherwise qualify for the typical rent. If you want a Housing Choice Voucher, you know how hard it can be to qualify: they are only given to those who have an extremely low income. Once you get one, finding a landlord that will accept you along with your voucher isn’t easy. Are you wondering what you can do to convince a landlord to accept your Housing Choice Voucher?
Housing Choice Voucher: What Is It?
The federal government provides low income earners with multiple types of rental assistance. The Housing Choice Voucher, or the Section 8 program, is one of them. With this program, the government expects you to pay 30 percent of the rent while they cover 70 percent.
This program enables tenants to choose where they live (especially if it is close to their jobs), rather than find limitations based upon income. Some tenants, for example, might want to live near a better school district to provide their children with the best possible education. Since the family is not to spend more than 30 percent of their income on housing, they can afford everything else they need with the remainder of their income, including utilities, food, clothing, transportation, and more.
For a landlord to accept a Housing Choice Voucher, they have to fill out some additional paperwork and submit to property inspection. This is to make sure each tenant receives high quality housing.
Do Landlords Have to Accept Housing Choice Vouchers?
Unfortunately, regardless of the law, it’s easy for landlords to turn down prospective tenants who have Housing Choice Vouchers. At the start of 2023, 19 states and just as many counties and cities had regulations preventing landlords from this type of discrimination. However, the laws don’t force a landlord to rent to anyone who applies and has a Housing Choice Voucher — it simply states that the voucher can’t be the main reason they’re being denied a housing opportunity.
Let’s say a prospective renter has a less than flawless record (maybe they’ve been evicted or accused of property damage in the past) — that alone is enough for a landlord to turn them away, regardless of the Housing Choice Voucher. You might never know, in this instance, whether the voucher was the real reason for being turned down.
Sometimes a rate for the rental will be above what the government considers acceptable, but is still considered typical for that particular neighborhood. If that happens, there’s no way to force a landlord to lower the rent so the voucher can be met.
Convincing a Landlord to Accept a Voucher
Tenants with vouchers face huge challenges and a mountain of discrimination. Per a recent study, only 1 in 39 classified ads actually qualified for the use of Housing Choice Vouchers (that was based on quality, HUD partnership willingness, and rent). With so few choices, no wonder tenants with vouchers face such difficulty finding a place to live.
- If you run into this situation, here are some ways to help your prospective landlord consider accepting you as tenants:
- The federal government will guarantee 70 percent of the rent every month — not something you’ll find with other tenants.
- You can furnish a positive rental history.
- Bring proof of income to show that the remaining 30 percent of rent is easy for you to cover.
- Show that you have left prior rentals in good condition — this may require separate references or statements from prior landlords.
- Ask a family member to vouch for you and sign a letter of attestation that they will cover the 30 percent of rent should you not do so.
While there are difficulties in getting housing with a voucher, the landlord should really be motivated by the fact that most of the rent is promised by the federal government. If you appear organized, promptly, and with all of the above information, the landlord may be more likely to consider accepting you as tenants along with your voucher.
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