Landlords renting to Section 8 tenants employ protocols similar to renting to unsubsidized renters. In fact, HUD requires Section 8 recipients and landlords to enter into a lease agreement. The same terms regarding lease violation and termination apply to Section 8 and traditional tenancy. HUD places several stipulations, specific to Section 8, on the lease creation process.
If a landlord uses a standard lease form with unsubsidized tenants, she must the use the same form with Section 8 renters. Federal regulations allow a landlord to use another form of a lease with Section 8 voucher holders if she does not use a standard lease with other tenants. In either case, the landlord must attach HUD's Section 8 Tenancy Addendum to the lease. HUD reviews all leases prior to approval to ensure they comply with state and local law.
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Generally, HUD requires landlords and Section 8 tenants to execute an initial one-year lease. HUD gives local housing agencies latitude to approve a shorter lease term if, as the Code of Federal Regulations states, it "would improve housing opportunities for the tenant" or if shorter lease durations are common practice in the local area. Property owners may not raise a Section 8 tenant's rent during the inaugural lease agreement.
Federal code requires that landlords include certain pieces of information in a Section 8 lease. For instance, the lease must list the name of the owner and tenant, the address of the unit, the monthly rent amount, the lease term, conditions regarding lease renewal and disclosure of what utilities and appliances the property owner and renter are responsible for. Each Section 8 lease also includes the HUD Section 8 Tenancy Addendum and a Housing Assistance Payments contract; both documents lay out the terms of the Section 8 tenancy and outline the responsibilities of each party -- tenant, landlord, housing agency and HUD -- under the agreement.
If a tenant wishes to terminate the lease, he must inform the housing agency that administers his benefits and abide by the terms of the lease and local and state law regarding lease termination by a tenant. A Section 8 landlord can terminate the lease if a tenant commits serious or repeated lease violations, commits a crime that, according to the Code of Federal Regulations, "imposes obligations on the tenant in connection with the occupancy or use of the premises" or for "other good cause." Examples of good cause include the tenant's refusal to accept a lease renewal or a family history of destroying the property or causing a nuisance or disturbance for neighbors. Failure of the housing agency that administers the Section 8 program to pay rent to the owner does not constitute grounds for lease termination.
- HUD: Housing Choice Vouchers Fact Sheet
- HUD: Section 8 Tenancy Addendum
- Code of Federal Regulations: Title 24, Section 982.308, Lease and Tenancy
- Code of Federal Regulations: Title 24, Section 982.309, Term of Assisted Tenancy
- Code of Federal Regulations: Title 24, Section 982.310, Owner Termination of Tenancy