FAQ - Voucher
/ Section 8 related Questions
DISCLAIMER: While these answers here are
believed to be correct and according to HAMC /
HUD policy, every situation is different and
many factors may influence each individual
situation. All HAMC decisions and rules must
conform to federal, state and local laws, as
well as HUD policy and approved HAMC operational
Note: Answers to common questions by applicants
can be found here. Questions from landlords are found
Finding a unit…
V1. What is the ‘Housing Choice Voucher”
Program? Is this the same as Section 8?
The Housing Choice Voucher (HVC) program is
basically the new designation for the Section 8
V2. Do you have any pamphlets or handbooks that
explain this program?
Yes, we do. Our
Participant Handbook (link to
Participants Handbook) is available upon
Current information about our Voucher program
and its status can be found here on the
8 page of our website.
V3. Who is eligible for a voucher? What are the
Eligibility depend on income, citizenship or
immigration status, and criminal background
For more detailed information on this subject
please go to the FAQ section on
requirements and waiting lists.
V4. I have received a voucher, how do I find a
house or apartment? How long do I have to find a
place to live?
These questions are answered during your
briefing where you will receive a Participant
Handbook, your Voucher and other paperwork.
You have 60 days from the date your Voucher is
issued to locate a unit and turn in a Request
V5. Does the owner have the right not to rent to
me? Can they not accept voucher holders?
Yes, landlords can refuse to accept Section 8
V6. In what areas can I live?
You must live in areas covered by HAMC
jurisdiction. This includes areas and cities
within Maricopa County that do not have their
own housing department or are unincorporated.
Ask an HAMC staff member for more detailed
information about areas in which you may use
Here is a map
that shows the general area of HAMC jurisdiction.
V7. I want to live in Phoenix (or Mesa, Tempe,
Glendale, etc) near my mother (or job). Is this
When you first receive your initial voucher you
must find a rental unit within HAMC’s
jurisdiction and remain in that unit until for a
minimum of 1 year.
A person with a HAMC voucher may not move into
rental units in Phoenix, Glendale, Mesa, Tempe,
Scottsdale, or Chandler.
After the end
of the initial lease period (one year), a person may
exercise the ‘portability’ option and move to
More information on Portability...
V8. What size unit is my family eligible for?
Vouchers are issued to eligible families based
on the family composition. The federal rules
require no more than 2 persons per bedroom or
sleeping area (living room, den, etc). The
precise determination of the appropriate voucher
size depends upon the relationship, age and
gender of the household members.
The size of unit you choose must be consistent
with the needs of the family and the amount of
rent subsidy you qualify for.
V9. I have found a nice rental unit. What do I
need to do? Is there an inspection? How long
does the inspection take? When can I move in?
These questions are answered during the briefing
when you are issued your voucher. Please pay
attention during that briefing and refer to the
materials that are given to you. One of those
items is the
Important: Do not sign a lease or pay a security
deposit before contacting HAMC. The Housing
Authority may not be able to approve the unit
and you could have serious problems (liable for
a signed lease, loss of your security deposit,
etc). HAMC must also have proof of property
ownership before approving a contract. The
lease should not be signed until the unit has
been inspected and approved by HAMC.
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V10. How much will I have to pay? How are rents
The Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) Program is
designed so that the assisted family pays 40% of
the adjusted monthly income towards rent and
utilities. This works out roughly to 30% for
rent and 10% for utilities. There is a required
minimum rent of $50.
If you get a job or a pay raise you do not lose
your voucher. You must report any changes in
household income or composition within 10 days
of the change on an HAMC Change Report form. The
tenant portion of the rent is adjusted to
reflect the new income.
income declared by a tenant is subject to
verification. Unreported income will result in
overpaid assistance that must be repaid by the
participant, and could lead to termination of
V11. Do I need to pay a deposit?
Yes, your landlord can require a security
V12. Do I pay for utilities?
Discuss this with the potential landlord. Read
your lease agreement. If you are
responsible for a utility payment, you must keep
those payments current.
V13. Why do some tenants pay more than 30% of
income towards rent?
The 40% rule only applies to INITIAL (that is
first time) rent determination for a rental
unit. If the participant’s household income
changes, if the household composition changes,
if (after the first 12 months) the rent goes up,
then the participant’s portion of rent changes.
This may result in the participant paying more
than 30% of their adjusted monthly income for
V14. Do I lose my unit if I get a job? I have a
voucher but I lost my job so I cannot pay my
share of rent. What do I do?
No, you do not lose your unit or rental
assistance when there is a change in household
income. You are required to report any changes
in household income and composition within 10
days of the change on an HAMC Change Report
form. Your rent portion will be adjusted
V15. My household composition has changed. I got
married, I have a new child and a better job.
How does this affect my voucher and rent
You are required to report any changes in
household income and composition within 10 days
of the change on an HAMC Change Report form.
Check the Participant Handbook (link) for
specifics on adding or removing someone from
your household. Your rent portion will be
V16. My landlord wants to raise my rent. What do
Your landlord must give you and the HAMC a 60
day written notice prior to the effective date
of the proposed rent increase. HAMC will review
the request for rent increase and advise your
landlord if it can be granted.
V17. My landlord has asked for is asking for an
additional payment that is not in the contract?
Is this legal?
Any payments not specified in the rental
contract are not allowed. These “side payments”
are illegal and will result in legal sanctions
against the owner. If the participant has any
questions about any charges demanded by the
owner, he/she should contact proper HAMC staff.
V18. I can’t pay my portion of the rent. What do
Your rent portion is calculated based on
household income, deductions, utility
allowances and unit/voucher size. If you do not
pay your portion of the rent as
calculated you will be evicted by your landlord
and you will lose your housing
V19. What happens if I get a
big raise? Can I loose my voucher assistance?
What is a ‘zero’ HAP?
If, when a tenant family is re-certified and
their income has risen to the point that the
total tenant payment exceeds the rent amount
plus the utility allowance for the unit, HAMC
does not make any payment to the landlord and
the tenant family is responsible for the full
rent. This situation is called a
However, the tenant family remains on the
voucher program for 6 months. In this way
the tenant is protected in the period in case of
a job loss, illness or some other problem. At
that time, in this case, the tenant family must
request an interim re-certification and resume
paying rent according to their income. “Zero
HAP” tenants must continue to comply with all
Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) program rules.
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You and your unit.
V21. I don't like my unit. Can I move? Who do I
have to notify?
In most cases you can only move when the Lease
Agreement expires. You may move then with a
written 30 day notice to your landlord and a
copy to HAMC.
V22. My landlord is not doing maintenance and
does not repair problems in my unit. What do I
HAMC is NOT a management company. Read your
lease as to whose responsibility the repair are, then Contact your
case manager for more information, if needed.
V23. My neighbors are noisy and rude. Can I
No. Talk to your landlord or complain to city
officials (police). You may change units when
the lease expires.
V24. I am moving out. My lease has expired. What
should I do? Who do I notify?
You must give 30 day
written notice to your landlord and give a copy to
HAMC. If you are staying on the voucher program,
your voucher will be reissued and you will need to
find a new unit within 60 days from the issue date
of the voucher. If you are moving out of the area
you must notify HAMC in writing and follow the
process for ‘portability’.
V25. Can I have a pet?
Ask the landlord. A ‘pet deposit’ may be
V26. What are my responsibilities when I rent a
Read your Lease Agreement, and the materials
provided in the briefing when you are issued a
voucher. One of the items provided during the
briefing is the
V27. I rented a house with my voucher. Do I have
to cut the grass and take care of the lawn? Do I
have to pay for the pool service?
Read your lease. You must abide by the lease
agreement you signed.
V28. Can the owner enter my unit?
In general, owners may enter a tenant's unit for
three reasons: 1) emergency repairs, 2)
non-emergency repairs or improvements, and 3)
apartment inspections. Emergency repair requires
no advance notice to the tenant. Access for all
other reasons requires a minimum of 48 hours
advance written notice.
V29. What happens when I move but cannot find
another unit? Can I lose my voucher?
When your voucher is issued it is good for 60
days. If you have not located a
new unit and the voucher expires at the end of
that 60 days, your voucher is
cancelled and your housing assistance is
V30. I am having
serious issues with the landlord. The owner is
not keeping his part of the contract. What do I do?
The lease is a legal contract between you and
the owner (landlord). HAMC is not a party to
this contract and cannot enforce its provisions
on either parties. You and the owner (landlord)
are responsible for complying with the lease.
Make sure the lease contains the following
information: lessee (tenant), lessor (landlord /
owner), unit address, rent, term of the lease
(starting and ending dates, must be for at least
one year), who pays what utilities, and what
appliances are provided with the unit. Be
sure that the procedures for repairs and
maintenance are clear. Make sure you
understand the rules and regulations posted for
the property or specified in the contract. If
you have doubts or questions, ask the landlord
or his/her representative to provide answers in
If there are disputes, tenants and the owners
(landlords) should cooperate with each other and
attempt to work out any differences. HAMC may be
able to help, in some limited cases.
However, the Housing Authority does not have the
power to force a tenant or owner to take any
desired action. In some cases tenant and owner
disputes must be settled through the court
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Sanctions and termination
V31. I have received a letter from the Housing
Authority of Maricopa County saying that they
have detected unreported income and I owe money?
What is this?
HAMC has discovered that you have unreported or
under reported income and has calculated the
back payments you owe according to this
information. You will be given the
opportunity to appeal and /or clarify this
If the participant continues to not report their
own income or that of family members they will
be subject to legal sanctions, including the
termination of their housing assistance.
Abuse of HAMC staff in the performance of their
duties and/or disregard of family obligations
listed in the voucher will result in the
termination of housing assistance.
V.32. My son has problems with the law. He lives
with me. What does this mean? How does this
affect my voucher?
Per your voucher: No family member may engage in
drug-related criminal activity, violent criminal
activity or other criminal activity that
threatens the health, safety or right to
peaceful enjoyment of other residents or persons
residing in the immediate vicinity of the
If this should occur, and you allow your son who
has problems with the law to remain in your
unit, you will lose your housing assistance.
V33. I have received a letter from the Housing
Authority of Maricopa County saying that my
contract is being terminated because I have
violated HUD rules. I disagree. What can I do?
Per your notice of termination you have the
right to request an informal hearing, follow the
instructions in the letter.
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V41. What is Portability?
Families receiving voucher assistance may not
move during the initial term of their lease.
After 12 months, a family may move anywhere in
the United States where a Section 8 voucher program is
administered. This is called ‘portability’.
More Portability Information...
V42. What is the ‘Housing Quality Standard’
HUD requires HAMC to perform an HQS inspection
of all Section 8 units before entering into a
Housing Assistance Payment contract with an
owner, and at least annually thereafter. The
inspection confirms whether an apartment meets
minimum physical standards established by HUD.
All voucher holders are required to provide
access to HAMC staff to allow them to perform
the inspection. A family that fails to provide
access may be terminated from the program.
V43. What is FSS?
The Family Self Sufficiency (FSS) Program is
designed to help participants develop skills and
experience that will enable him/her to obtain
employment or better employment and to someday
be free of public assistance.
For more information please see HAMC’s
FFS section or go to HUD's
Family Self-Sufficiency information.
V44. What is ‘Annual Re-certification’
HAMC is required to recertify the income and
composition of all households at least once a
year. The annual reexamination determines the
continued eligibility of a Section 8 participant
and establishes the Housing Assistance Payment
to be made on behalf of the family. The move-in
date is used to determine the time of the annual
V45. Can I lease a mobile home (trailer)?
Yes, you can move into any type of residence
that meets HQS inspection requirements
(considering also jurisdiction and rent amount
V46. My sister is coming to live with me. Is
that OK? How long can she stay? Will it affect
my voucher payment?
The voucher is
designated specifically for the family members
assigned to the voucher. Continued residence by
other persons in the unit is a violation of the
contract and assistance may be terminated. Read the
Participant Handbook for information on how to add someone to
your household, or delete someone.
A voucher holder may not sublet or loan the use
of the unit to any other person.
V47. I have to go take care of my mother in New
York (or Los Angeles or somewhere far away) and
I will be away from my unit for a long time.
What does this mean?
Participant Handbook for
policies on leaving the unit vacant for an
extended period. In general, if you or any
member of your household are going to be away
from the unit for more than two weeks, you are
required to notify HAMC in writing immediately.
V48. I have found out that the owner has lost
the house (foreclosure). What do I do? Will I
have to move? What about my payments?
Notify your HAMC case manager immediately of any
notices you have received and they will proceed
on a case-by-case basis. The Arizona Attorney
General has very good information about foreclosure
issues with much useful information:
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