Section 8 FAQ
Frequently Asked Questions about Section 8 Rental Assistance
What is Section 8?
Am I eligible for a Section 8 voucher?
What is a CORI?
How can I apply for Section 8?
Download a Section 8 application (PDF). Section 8 applications are also available at the BHDC offices at 1 Fenn St., 3rd Floor, Pittsfield, MA 01201. Applicants are placed on the waiting list according to the date and time the completed application is received by BHDC.
How long will I have to wait to get my voucher?
What if I move while I am on the waiting list?
What happens when I am chosen for a Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher?
A voucher will be issued at this time, based on the bedroom size for which your family qualifies as determined by updated information on your application. Once the voucher is issued, you have 60 days to find a place to rent. Once you’ve found an apartment that meets your needs in terms of size, location and cost, you and the owner fill out a Request for Tenancy Approval (RFTA). The RFTA contains the information that we’ll need to begin the process of getting you moved in to your new apartment. It is important to know that the RFTA is a binding legal document that sets forth the terms and conditions of your tenancy. Please make sure that you complete the entire packet and that both you and the owner sign it.
Once the RFTA has been received, a Rent Reasonableness test will be conducted to be sure the amount of rent the owner/agent has requested is in line with the rent charged for other unassisted units of the same type in the same area of the local housing market. Once this has been determined, an inspection will be set up with the landlord. The rental unit must meet Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher guidelines (see next question). The inspector will make sure that the apartment is in good shape and is worth the rent the owner is asking for it. If the unit passes inspection, a lease must be signed by the tenant and owner/agent, and a Housing Assistance Payments contract is signed by the owner/agent and BHDC to allow payments to be made directly to the owner/agent.
You or the owner can mail the completed RFTA packet to a BHDC office, or you can bring it directly to our office yourself. You or the owner can even fax the RFTA to our office at 413-499-1630. Please include your housing counselor’s name on the fax cover sheet.
What standards do BHDC housing inspectors use?
Our housing inspectors inspect according to minimum habitability and program requirements as established by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD). These standards are collectively referred to as Housing Quality Standards (HQS).
HQS were developed to insure that all homes leased under Section 8 will be safe, decent and sanitary. It is important to remember that these are minimum standards, and that under Massachusetts law, all rental properties must meet State Sanitary Code as well.
Can a Section 8 unit contain lead paint?
If a Lead Based Paint Compliance Letter is required, the owner must provide BHDC with a copy of the letter before you can move into the apartment. It is illegal for an owner to deny you the apartment because someone in your household is pregnant or under six years old. Federal law requires that owners de-lead apartments that contain lead if a family meets the owner’s requirements for tenancy. If you feel that you’ve been denied tenancy because of lead, contact your housing counselor at BHDC.
Learn more about Massachusetts laws relating to lead paint.
For more information on lead based paint hazards, you can also download an informational booklet from HUD (PDF).
How much rent will I have to pay?
You pay your share to the owner on the first of the month just like you would if you didn’t have a voucher. The rest of the rent will be sent to the owner directly by BHDC.
Download the Applicable Payment Standards and Utility Allowance Rates for Berkshire County.
Will I have to pay a security deposit?
How long do I have to stay in the apartment that I chose?
Will the rent increase?
What if there is a change in my family?
What if there is a change in my income?
It is important to know that the income information you provide is computer matched with information from the IRS, Social Security and DES (unemployment). There may be serious consequences if you do not provide us with accurate and complete income information.
What if I want to move?
Can I move out of Massachusetts?
In order to move, you must do so either at the time a voucher is initially issued or at the end of your lease with a proper 30-day notice to your current landlord and:
- Notify your Housing Counselor that you wish to move to another state.
- Have a place in mind and preferably have the name of a Housing Authority in that area that administers the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher Program.
Then BHDC will send a portability package to the receiving Housing Agency, which would include a new 60-day Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher. At this time, you should be in the jurisdiction of the receiving Housing Agency and must make an appointment with them to determine eligibility in their area and to begin the process according to their standards.
Can a landlord decide not to rent to me because I have a Section 8 voucher?
Does BHDC offer any other programs or available housing similar to Section 8?
BHDC manages properties with rental units, some of which have subsidies and some without. Search our property database to view listings.
If you have more questions or require additional information please feel free to contact BHDC at 413-499-1630 x123.