How do I Get My Rental Approved for Section 8?

People ask this question all the time and the short answer is, you don’t. Or at least, you don’t do it first.

Below I will lay out the steps to accepting Section 8 in your rental property and getting it approved.

  • Once you’ve approved a tenant, you’ll complete their Section 8/Housing Authority paperwork with them and turn it into the public housing authority-PHA (check with your tenant’s caseworker to determine how they want to receive the paperwork).

  • The housing authority will schedule their inspection.

  • You’ll receive notice of the total approved rent from the housing authority. You may or may not be able to negotiate this, depending on your local HA office. You can approve or disapprove of the rent. If you approve it, you move to Step 5. If disapproved, the process ends and you’ll need to find another tenant (likely a market tenant because the
    rent will be the same if you get another voucher holder working with the same HA).
    NOTE: This will be the total rent amount. By law, you are not allowed to charge more than the
    approved rent.

  • The tenant (and probably the landlord) will receive the move-in authorization. This document gives the tenant the move in date and the breakdown of how much of the rent the tenant will pay and how much the government will pay.

  • Move in the tenant.

  • You’ll receive the HAP contract from the housing authority, which you’ll need to sign and return. This is the critical step that many landlords miss. The government rent payments will not start until the caseworker receives the executed contract back.

Note: Check with your local Public Housing Authority (PHA) to find out exactly how their process works. They may have a slightly different process or do things in a different order but generally speaking, these are the steps that you’ll have to follow.

This process may sound like a lot, but for us, it only adds 2 to 3 weeks tops to the move in process. It does require us to stay on top of the paperwork but I believe the benefits of Section 8 far outweigh the time delay.

Want to know more about becoming a successful Section 8 landlord? Reach out to me at or through the Contact form on my website. I look forward to hearing from you.

Comments 2

  1. Does the housing authority assign a rent rate to the vacant dwelling, after the inspection? (Since, as you say, the rent would be the same for the next voucher holder.) This sounds slightly different that the YouTube tutorial where you suggest the LL ask the tenant applicant if they have the housing authority voucher, which states the number of bedrooms and the rent range for which was determined for this voucher holder.
    Thanks for helping me learn, Kathy H.

    1. Hi Kathy, thanks for asking!
      Generally, the Housing Authority notifies you of the approved rent amount after the inspection. This is certainly the case for both the city and county HAs in St. Louis. If you are in another part of the country, verify with your local HA of exactly when the rent amount is given to you.
      As to the video about the voucher – the voucher doesn’t give you a rent range, just the number of bedrooms the tenant is approved for. But because of the way rent is determined, tenants with a 2 bedroom voucher will not have as high of a rent max as those with a 3 bedroom voucher.
      The formula that HUD or the HA uses to determine rent is complex but generally, it is based on a “reasonable” rent amount for the property based on the bedrooms, the tenant’s voucher size (this only comes into play if the tenant has a voucher for less than the bedrooms in your property), the Fair Market Rent determined by HUD for your area (which basically establishes a ceiling that HUD sets for Section 8 rents) and the tenant’s income (Section 8 rules require that a tenant can’t pay more than 40% of their income to housing expenses).

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