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What to know about renting with vouchers

houses for rent by owner accepting section 8
If you're looking for apartments that accept vouchers, make sure you've already applied for Section 8.​

Section 8 vouchers help make housing more affordable, but not every listing in your apartment search will take them. It’s worthwhile to learn how to apply for the program and how to find houses for rent by owners who accept Section 8 vouchers because it can save you a lot of money. Here’s how the Section 8 program works and how you can find apartments that accept vouchers near you.

What is Section 8?

Section 8 is a federal housing program that pays a portion of low-income renters’ monthly rental payment. This means the renter pays a rate that better fits their budget, but the landlord still gets a fair market rate. It’s funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), but it’s administered through local public housing agencies, or PHAs.

How do Section 8 vouchers work?

Renters who want to live in apartments that accept vouchers apply for Section 8 through their local PHA. The vouchers cover a portion of the rent based on how much rent you can afford. Section 8 tenants usually pay their landlord 30 percent of their monthly income, and the government pays the rest.

There are two kinds of vouchers. Project-based vouchers can only be used for a specific housing development. Tenant-based vouchers can be used for any houses for rent by an owner who accepts Section 8 and that meet program guidelines.

Who qualifies for Section 8 vouchers?

To be eligible for Section 8, you can’t earn more than 50 percent of the median income for your area. The majority of Section 8 vouchers go to renters who make no more than 30 percent of the median income. The PHA also considers things like family size. Because so many people qualify, waiting lists are common. For many renters, it takes between a year and six years to get a voucher.

How do you find apartments that accept vouchers?

Once you have a voucher, you need to find houses for rent by owners who accept Section 8. Many renters report that finding these landlords can be a challenge. And a study prepared for HUD reached the same conclusion. But Section 8 listings do exist in many cities, and one of the easiest ways to find them is with Trulia’s rental search.

  • Start by entering the city, neighborhood, or even a school you’d like to live near into the search bar.
  • Click on “more” near the top of the search results page.
  • Enter “Section 8” in the field labeled “keyword.”
  • Click “Search.” Your results will include all houses for rent by owners who accept Section 8 and include that fact in their listing.

As with all rental listings on Trulia, these listings will help you scope out the area before you even visit, using the Google Street View function, the amenities map showing places to eat and things to do nearby, plus see crime rates, commute times, and nearby schools. When you find a place you like, just fill out a rental application and include your Section 8 status.

How do you apply for a Section 8 voucher?

First, find your local PHA. You’ll apply directly to the authority, either online or in-person (the options vary depending on where you live). They’ll ask you for personal information, including your name, Social Security number, and income. Then, as long as you qualify and your application is accepted, it’s just a matter of waiting your turn, and you’ll be able to start your search for apartments that accept vouchers.

Ready to start looking for a Section 8 rental? See what’s available now on Trulia.