Section 8 Eviction Explained

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Section 8 Eviction Explained

Teresa Bergen · Mar 31, 2022
Sad woman cries on the phone after receiving her eviction notice.

If you’re a member of the Housing Choice Voucher Program, commonly called “Section 8,” different eviction rules apply to your apartment building. Or perhaps you live in a building where other residents are in this program. Either way, you may be wondering how the eviction process is different.

What is Section 8?

First of all, let’s get a clearer picture of who is in the Section 8 program, which is funded by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development. The program was first authorized in 1937 to help elderly, disabled, and low income folks afford safe and sanitary housing. Currently, about 4.5 million Americans live in Section 8 housing, including almost two million children. More than half remain in the program for more than five years.

If you meet the criteria, you can apply for housing assistance. Qualifying people get vouchers that pay part of their rent. They can then rent from any landlord that accepts Section 8 vouchers.

Section 8 Eviction Process

Since the Housing Choice Voucher Program is a federal program, its eviction rules are a bit different than normal. The landlord is still responsible for evicting the tenant, but they must first notify the local housing authority of the impending eviction.

By the time eviction rolls around, the tenant has been well warned. Typically the landlord has given the tenant written notice anywhere from 60 to 90 days prior to the eviction. The final notification is a pay or quit notice. Depending on local statutes, the final deadline to pay rent gives the tenant between three and 14 days to come up with the money. The landlord provides the housing authority a copy of this notice.

Reasons for Evicting Section 8 Tenants

Eviction notice on the floor of a tenant's apartment.

Non-payment of rent is one of the top reasons Section 8 tenants face eviction. In general, the tenant is paying 30 to 40 percent of the cost, while the local housing authority is covering the other 60 to 70 percent. But this can still be too much for some tenants to manage. If the tenant quits paying, or is axed from the Section 8 program, it’s grounds for eviction.

Serious lease violations are another reason a Section 8 tenant might be evicted. These include refusing to pay for property damage, repeatedly harassing or disturbing neighbors, subletting or housing squatters, having pets without the landlord’s consent (service animals excluded), or conducting criminal or illegal drug activities around the property.

What Happens Now?

Young man struggles with next moves following his eviction from a Section 8 property.

So, the landlord has notified the housing authority of their intent to evict a Section 8 tenant. The tenant has done nothing to rectify the problem over the allotted time period. What now? At this point, it proceeds like any other eviction. The next step is for the landlord to file a court case, commonly called an Unlawful Detainer Action. If the tenant fails to appear in court or otherwise respond to the action, the landlord may then remove their belongings and change the locks on the apartment. In most states, the police are called to remove the tenant’s possessions.

Despite the requirement of notifying the local housing authority, evicting a Section 8 tenant is the same as evicting any other tenant. The grounds for eviction are pretty much the same. The biggest difference might be the potential for added drama and emotion around Section 8 tenants, as they are especially vulnerable people who likely have nowhere else to go. Since many receive federal benefits due to mental illness, landlords should handle them as gently and carefully as possible, and keep good records of events leading up to the eviction.

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