Section 8 is a federal program designed to provide temporary housing assistance to low-income families. Because your landlord or property manager must work with your local public housing authority for Section 8, it takes a little longer to move into a unit with Section 8 than if you were not on the program. Even so, you usually can move into most Section 8 properties within two to four weeks of getting approved and receiving your vouchers.
Request for Tenancy Approval
After you receive your Section 8 voucher, you must submit a Request for Tenancy Approval, or RTA, form. The public housing authority uses the information on the form to determine whether the apartment or other property you want to rent is up to the standards of the Housing Choice Voucher program. The landlord or property manager should submit this form to the public housing authority as soon as possible — most landlords and property managers do it within a day or two, as they want to get tenants into their units as soon as possible.
Inspection is the most variable part of the Section 8 process in terms of length. Every Section 8 rental unit has to pass an inspection that guarantees the property you want meets HUD guidelines. This is for your general safety and comfort. The goal of the Public Housing Agency (PHA) is to get in touch with your property owner or landlord within three days of the receipt of the RTA in order to schedule the inspection. If any repairs or other modifications are required, the landlord or property manager has to finish them before you can move in. The amount of time this takes depends on the modifications and repairs required.
Completing the Paperwork
The PHA sends your landlord a Housing Assistance Payments Contract after the rental unit passes inspection, along with a courtesy lease. You must sign the HAPC, along with the courtesy lease or the lease your landlord or property manager normally uses. The landlord or property manager sends copies of both documents back to the PHA. Mailing these documents back and forth can take another week, depending on how soon you can get the paperwork signed and exactly what day the landlord or property manager sends it.
Regular Application and Payment
Even though you are participating in Section 8, you still have to meet the landlord or property manager's general eligibility requirements in order to sign the lease. This usually means you have to fill out a formal application, which the landlord or property manager uses to conduct a basic background and credit check. It usually takes no more than a week to get an application approved, depending on whether the landlord or property manager uses a background check company or does the investigation herself. Once the application goes through, you can sign the lease. The landlord or property manager should process your general application before or at the same time as your RTA so you can sign the lease as soon as the PHA finishes the unit inspection. Once everything is signed and you pay your portion of the rent, you can move in.