The Basics of Section 8 Vouchers in New York
The federally funded “Housing Choice” voucher program, often called a “Section 8” voucher because the program is delineated in Section 8 of the United States Housing and Community Development Act of 1974, is a common form of tenant-based rental assistance in which, unlike public housing, the subsidy follows the tenants, who are free to choose their apartments, including those owned by private landlords.
In New York State, federal Section 8 subsidies are administered by various state and local agencies, including the New York State Department of Homes and Community Renewal (DHCR), New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) and the Department of Housing Preservation and Development (DHPD) in New York City, and various county agencies in counties outside New York City. These public housing authorities pay a pre-determined portion of the rent directly to the landlord and the tenants pay their landlord the remainder of the rent.
The sole agreement between a voucher-holder and the landlord is the lease, and the landlord executes a housing assistance payment (HAP) contract with the Section 8 agency. The landlord may not add charges to the rent.
Although the state and its municipalities may promulgate laws prohibiting discriminatory leasing practices based on payment by voucher, only New York City has acted on this authority, with the passage of a law in March 2008 that bans housing discrimination against any tenant based on source of income, including Section 8. (See N.Y.C. Admin. Code § 8-101) A New York City landlord cannot refuse to rent to Section 8 tenants, nor may a New York City landlord refuse a Section 8 voucher from an existing tenant, even if the tenant became eligible for Section 8 benefits after the tenancy began.
In the context of an eviction proceeding for non-payment, the landlord cannot evict a tenant based on an agency’s failure to pay the voucher share. A tenant can only be evicted for non-payment of their share of the rent, and cannot include late fees, attorney’s fees, or any other charges except the pre-determined tenant share. Moreover, before a landlord commences any eviction proceeding, a landlord is required to give 25 days’ written notice to NYCHA and the tenant setting forth the specific facts on which the landlord’s allegations are based, and the tenant has 10 days to respond. If NYCHA objects, based on the facts the landlord sets forth or because the landlord seeks to recover more than the tenant’s share of the rent, the landlord must include NYCHA as a party respondent to any eviction proceeding. This notice requirement applies to both non-payment and holdover eviction proceedings.
This is just a highlight of the technical and complicated regulations under the Section 8 program. Let the experienced attorneys at Griffin Alexander, P.C. help assist you!
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