Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher Program: A Guide for Tenants and Landlords; The Housing Authority of Bergen County
One Bergen County Plaza, 2nd Floor
Hackensack, NJ 07601
Telephone: (201) 336-7600
Fax: (201) 336-7660
TDD: (201) 336-7669
What is Section 8?
The Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher Program is a rental assistance subsidy program funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) which reduces rental costs to eligible low-income households. The program presently includes more than 3,500 subsidized units throughout Bergen County with approximately 1,500 participating landlords.
Eligibility and Participation
Applications when available must be requested in writing by mail only from the main office of the Housing Authority of Bergen County (HABC) in Englewood. In order to be eligible for rental assistance, the total household income from all sources can not exceed the maximum income limit set by HUD for the household size. Income limits are usually adjusted annually.
Local preference is given to qualified applicants who reside or work in a member community of the HABC. Ranking preference is given to qualified applicants who are working or participating in an educational and/or vocational training program. Households who head, spouse or sole member is 62 or older or is unable to work because of a verifiable disability will automatically receive this ranking preference.
Many more persons apply for the program than the HABC is able to subsidize. Therefore, there are times when the acceptance of applications will be suspended. If you apply for assistance when the list is open and you are deemed eligible for the program, your application will be placed on our waiting list by the date and time it was received in the main office of the HABC in Englewood. It is important to keep in mind that the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher Program does not offer emergency or immediate assistance.
Once an application is accepted and deemed eligible, an acknowledgement letter will be sent which will prove the acceptance of the application. Applicants will be notified if they are ineligible for the program. Eligible applicants are reviewed when their names comes to the top of the waiting list. If funding is available at that time and they are again deemed eligible, a Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher will be issued. The Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher will be issued. The Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher allows the family sixty (60) days to locate suitable housing and submit a Request for Tenancy Approval form. Additional time may be granted depending on circumstances and the amount of effort the voucher holder has made in their apartment search.
Although vouchers do not have established maximum rents, monthly rental amounts must be affordable for the family and their share can not exceed 40% of their adjusted monthly income. The amount of the subsidy is based on an established payment standard. The determination of the family’s share of the rent and the HABC’s Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) is a two step process. When the Housing Choice Voucher is issued, the family is advised of the minimum amount that they are expected to contribute toward the rent and the maximum subsidy that the HABC will pay. The family has the option of selecting a unit with a rent that is more or less than the established payment standard. The final calculation of the family’s share of the rent and the HAP payment amount can not be completed until the family has selected a unit.
Finding/Leasing an Apartment
Once a family has been issued a Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher by the HABC, the family may search the private rental market for a suitable unit, subject to the voucher program regulations regarding residency. The housing unit must be decent, safe and sanitary according to Housing Quality Standards (HQS) established by HUD and the HABC. When a suitable unit is found and the Request for Tenancy Approval is returned to the HABC, the HABC will inspect the empty unit to assure that it meets HQS prior to occupancy. After the unit passes the HQS inspection and the rental amount has been approved, the landlord and tenant enter into a lease agreement. The HABC and the landlord sign a HAP contract which permits the HABC to pay a portion of the rent on behalf of the family directly to the landlord. The family will be responsible for the difference between the total rent and the Housing Assistance Payment.
Once the initial lease agreement expires, it may be renewed for a specified time period, (ie month-to-month etc). The family may terminate the lease agreement and vacate the unit provided proper notice is given to the landlord and the HABC. If the family remains in the unit, the family must be re-certified as required for continued eligibility and the unit must be re-inspected for HQS. At that time the landlord may request an annual rent increase adjustment. This request must be submitted in writing to the HABC and to the tenant sixty (60) days prior to lease renewal. All requests must comply with rent reasonableness guidelines.
Moving Out of the HABC Jursdiciton
The Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher is designed to allow participating families to move without the loss of rental assistance. Moves are permissible as long as the family is in compliance with HUD regulations governing portability.
Benefits of Participation
The tenant is confident that the apartment they will live in meets HQS and is affordable.
The landlord is assured of the Housing Authority’s monthly payment as well as allowing for annual adjustments, as appropriate. The program also allows the landlord to continue to have control over their property including tenant selection.
Landlord Responsibilities: Landlords are required to:
*Use the same screening methods for the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher prospective tenants that they would use for others tenants, ie,. conducting credit checks, landlord references, criminal background reviews etc. Landlords are prohibited from refusing to rent to a person so long as the source of that person’s income is lawful.
* Maintain their property in good condition and complete repairs within a reasonable amount of time in accordance with HQS. The amount of time that is considered reasonable depends upon the nature of the repair.
*Set Reasonable rules and regulations regarding the use of the unit and the common areas.
*Collect appropriate security deposits in compliance with New Jersey state law.
*Take appropriate legal action if the tenant violates the lease agreement.
*Comply with the terms and conditions of the lease agreement and the HAP Contract.
Tenant Responsibilities: Tenants are required to:
*Pay their portion of the rent on time.
*Comply with the terms and conditions of the lease agreement.
*Refrain from engaging in any illegal activity.
*Avoid damage to the property.
*Insure that only those listed on the lease agreement reside in the unit.
*Immediately report changes in family size and income.
The Housing Authority of Bergen County Responsibilities:
In order to administer the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher Program the HABC enters into a contractual relationship with HUD, the owner and the family. The role and responsibilities of HUD, the HABC, the owner and the family are defined in the Federal regulations and in the legal documents that the parties execute prior to participation in the program. The HABC’s responsibilities in administering the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher Program include but are not limited to establishing local policies complying with Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity requirements, HUD regulations, the HABC’s administrative plan and applicable Federal, State and local laws.
In the interest of operating the program as smoothly and efficiently as possible, the HABC employs trained personnel to assist prospective tenants throughout the application process. Staff is available to explain the program requirements to interested landlords. Landlords may list their available units with the HABC and from time to time, the HABC may be able to provide referrals for those units. Participants, both tenants and landlords, are encouraged to contact our office at any time for questions or the need for further information regarding the program.
Listed below are member communities throughout Bergen County who have Cooperative Agreements with the Housing Authority of Bergen County.
Applicants who reside in a member community receive local preference on our Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher waiting list.
*Equal Housing Opportunity
*Disclaimer: This information is taken from the Housing Authority of Bergen County. I have never used the service so I have no opinion of it, whether yes or no, to the service. Please call the above number for more details.