The Housing Choice Voucher Program, or Section 8, was developed by the Department of Housing and Urban Development to provide families, seniors and the disabled with affordable housing. HUD finances Sections 8 through public housing authorities, which administer the program within New Jersey. The housing authority selects all participants, including landlords, and determines whether rental units meet HUD guidelines. It also pays the difference between the rent amount and 30 percent of the voucher-holder's income.
HUD maintains a list of approximately 60 housing authorities across New Jersey that offer Section 8. Each PHA administers the program according to HUD guidelines, but exercises its own discretion to choose landlords, rental properties and renters for the voucher program.
List with the Local Housing Authority
Choose the housing authority for your area by zip code or city name using HUD's website. Call the phone number listed to obtain the department or division that services landlords. For example, the "Housing Assistance Office" within the Atlantic City Housing Authority handles landlord applicants. Depending on the particular housing authority, you may also contact the office via fax, letter or e-mail. A housing authority's website may also provide an agency-specific guide for landlords.
Provide the housing authority with the property details it requests, such as:
- A point of contact for interested Section 8 renters to call.
- Date rental unit is available.
- Number of bedrooms.
- Rent price.
- Utilities that renters and landlord must pay.
- Security deposit amount.
- Pet policy.
The housing authority uses this information to list your property in its available-rental database.
Select a Section 8 Tenant and Submit Documents
Interested Section 8 renters will contact you directly to view the rental unit. You must screen Section 8 applicants as you would non-voucher holders, a process which likely includes a credit check, criminal background check, reference checks and an application. Upon choosing a Section 8 renter for your unit, you may collect a security deposit.
The housing authority must then certify you as a landlord for the voucher program. Gather official documents for submission to the housing authority, including:
- IRS Form W-9, which requires a landlord's Social Security number or Taxpayer Identification number, along with a copy of your Social Security card.
- A New Jersey- or government-issued ID.
- A completed Request for Tenancy Approval Form, which is signed by both landlord and renter. It requires property information such as size, location and rental amount.
- A Landlord or Authorized Agent Certification, which certifies that the landlord will follow federal guidelines for the program.
Pass the Housing Authority's Inspection and Rent Requirements
A Section 8 rental unit must meet HUD's Housing Quality Standards to ensure tenants receive safe and decent housing. The housing authority sends an inspector to your property and reports any needed repairs to the authority. You must make all repairs requested to gain approval for the program and have your unit certified.
Once your home passes the inspection phase, the authority will analyze the rent amount you plan to charge to ensure it falls within program limits for the area. HUD sets reasonable-rent limits annually for each county. To view current rent limits for the Section 8 program in New Jersey, visit the HUD website and select your county. The housing authority will inform you if your rental's price exceeds program limits, at which point you can choose to re-price the unit. Rents are based on the number of bedrooms and median rents in the area. For example, at the time of publication, the rent limit for a 2-bedroom rental unit was $1,176 in Atlantic County.
After choosing a tenant and passing inspections, you must complete and sign a formal lease agreement of at least one year with the Section 8 renter. You must also sign certain HUD documents, or addenda.