How Can I Convince a Potential Landlord to Take My Housing Choice Voucher?

( – Housing Choice Vouchers are issued via the Housing Choice Voucher Program, also known as Section 8. With the guarantee of the vouchers, low income residents can find landlords who are willing to take them — the incentive being that the government guarantees the percentage of rent covered by the voucher (as much as 70 percent, typically). The Housing Choice Voucher Program permits families and individuals to live in areas where they might not otherwise be able to afford rent.

Housing Choice Voucher Program vouchers are only available to people who qualify with a very low income. If you qualify, your next challenge becomes locating a landlord who is willing to accept the voucher. While the landlord has the guarantee of rent with the voucher, there are some downsides to them accepting it, too — such as having a third party (the Public Housing Authority, or PHA) involved in the rental and being subjected to a rigorous health and safety inspection.

As a result, you may need to do some convincing to ensure your ideal landlord will accept the Housing Choice Voucher Program voucher.

Housing Choice Vouchers: How Do They Work?

The federal government provides financial assistance for low-income individuals and families in several forms, including this one — housing. Under the Housing Choice Voucher Program, the government pays for 70 percent of the rent and the tenant is responsible for the remaining 30 percent.

This helps people choose where they want to live, and it’s meant to ensure the family won’t spend over 30 percent of their income on housing. This means they can afford their transportation, food, and utility costs without too much strain or struggle.

If a landlord accepts the voucher, they have to keep specific paperwork updated and be willing to have their properties subjected to regular housing. This is to ensure all tenants have a safe, clean, healthy place to stay.

Must Landlords Accept Housing Choice Vouchers?

The trend is yes — as of January 2023, some cities, counties, and 19 states had regulations on the books prohibiting landlords from discriminating against those using the Housing Choice Voucher Program vouchers. These laws state that the voucher cannot be the only reason the landlord is turning away the tenant, but they do not compel the landlord to accept all tenants with Housing Choice Voucher Program vouchers.

Let’s say a tenant has a voucher, but has a bad rental history or a low credit score compared to other applicants. The landlord could still deny them. Additionally, if the rental rate is higher than what the government will accept, but still considered within reasonable range for the neighborhood the property is in, the landlord can’t be forced to lower rent just to meet the voucher.

How to Convince Your Prospective Landlord to Accept Your Voucher

Per an Urban Institute Study, only 1 in 39 classified ads qualified for Housing Choice Vouchers. This was based on quality, rent, and the landlord’s willingness to cooperate with the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), which administers the Housing Choice Voucher Program.

If you need to convince a landlord to accept your vouchers, consider:

  • Reminding the landlord that the federal government guarantees 79 percent of the rent each month, which is not true of tenants who are not using vouchers.
  • Showing your positive rental history through the landlord, whether that’s in the Housing Choice Voucher Program or not.
  • Show a good income source that will make paying the remaining 30 percent a reasonable expectation.
  • Furnish evidence of having left other rental properties in good condition. Consider getting letters of recommendation.
  • Offer a family member or friend who will promise to provide any missed rent or damage payments.

While getting your landlord to agree to accept vouchers from the Housing Choice Voucher Program can be challenging, it’s not impossible. If you believe you’re facing discrimination because you are part of the Housing Choice Voucher Program, call to file a complaint at 1-800-669-9777.

Copyright 2023,