How to Appeal a Section 8 Denial

How to Appeal a Section 8 DenialYou successfully submitted your application for affordable housing but were denied. Applicants can receive a denial letter for many reasons.

If you have reviewed the program eligibility requirements and believe you still qualify, you may be trying to figure out how to appeal Section 8 denial.

Because the program is based on the total income per household, you may simply make too much money for the area you live in even if you are still struggling.

The public housing authority (PHA) in your area will present you with a reason and evidence for your denial. When you are denied Section 8 housing vouchers, you are allowed to make an appeal to your PHA whenever you are denied.

While it is disheartening to receive that kind of notice, you are still in control of what you do next. You can appeal to your PHA and prove that you are, in fact, a good candidate for vouchers. Continue reading to find out what to do if your Section 8 application was denied.

Section 8 Housing Disqualifications

While many applicants receive Section 8 benefits, certain Section 8 housing disqualifications deem certain individuals ineligible. Some disqualifying factors are avoidable, while others are more difficult to get around.

Because you are a tenant under the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) wants to ensure that you are a suitable candidate for the responsibility. Therefore, it is important to know the answer to the question, “What are the reasons for Section 8 denial?”

Past Evictions

Applicants with a history of eviction may be worried about how to appeal a Section 8 denial letter. Eviction history is just one of the reasons why landlords reject Section 8 applicants. These individuals that have been evicted do not give landlords the impression of responsibility, no matter the reason for eviction.  Some common reasons that individuals get evicted for are:

  • Destruction of property.
  • Violations of a lease.
  • Dangerous or potentially dangerous housekeeping habits.
  • Failure to make rent payments.
  • Drug-related activity.

As an applicant in the private housing market, you are subject to the same standards and responsibilities as other non-Section 8 tenants. This means that the PHA and property owners can deny you if your past behaviors indicate poor tenant performance.

Criminal Records

Certain criminal activities lead to automatic Section 8 housing disqualifications, especially crimes involving drugs. Felons are those who have been in prison for one year or longer. Crimes that local public housing authorities (PHAs) may reject you for include the following:

  • Registration as a lifetime sex offender in any state.
  • A conviction for manufacturing methamphetamines in federally assisted housing.
  • Eviction from federally assisted housing for drug-related criminal activity within the past three to five years, unless you completed a PHA-approved drug treatment program.

You may still be rejected for crimes outside of the convictions listed above. However, you have a right to appeal a Section 8 denial letter, especially if you were wrongfully rejected. You can appeal your denial and give the PHA positive reasons as to why your criminal history will not affect your quality as a tenant.

Lack of Citizenship or Permanent Residency

Only U.S. citizens and legal residents are eligible to receive a Section 8 voucher. You must provide the Social Security Numbers (SSNs) of all members of the household that will live together under the voucher. Failure to do this can result in you receiving a Section 8 denial letter.

If you are a legal non-citizen who was denied, you can undergo the Section 8 denial appeal process. As long as you have legal documents verifying your legal status, you will be eligible for reconsideration. Some of these documents include:

  • An alien registration receipt card.
  • Arrival-departure records.
  • A temporary resident card.
  • An employment authorization card.

Incomplete Paperwork

All members of the household applying to receive Section 8 benefits must sign the consent form and submit all portions of the application. Failure of even one member to sign can result in a Section 8 denial letter. Fortunately, this is an easy fix, as you may appeal and submit your completed documents.

Household Status

Certain applicants are simply ineligible because of their age or other factors. This specifically includes students younger than 24 years of age who are enrolled in a higher education institution who are not disabled, veterans and do not have dependent children.

If you fall into this category and are trying to figure out how to appeal a Section 8 denial, it would be beneficial to seek legal aid to assist with your case. Because the HUD does not consider these individuals like needy, legal aid can help prepare a case to prove otherwise.

The Process to Complete a Section 8 Denial Appeal

Because every person’s situation is unique and not everyone is a perfect applicant, the PHA offers a Section 8 denial appeal process. It allows denied applicants to make a case about why they are a good fit for the program.

  1. Denial Letter

If you are denied into the Section 8 program, you will first receive a notice of denial and the option to submit a Section 8 denial appeal. The PHA is required to give you a reason for the denial. If you do not receive a reason, you have the right to request one. The letter also notifies you of your right to an informal hearing or review. You will have a deadline to make to request and make the appeal.

  1. Request a Hearing or Review

After reviewing your documents and Section 8 denial letter, if you still feel that you should have been approved for a Section 8 voucher, you must write a request letter to your local housing agency. The time frame to make the request is usually 10 days. Make sure to make a copy of your letter.

  1. Prepare for the Hearing

To change the housing authority’s decision about your case, you must provide sufficient evidence to change the determination in your Section 8 denial letter. If you were rejected because of your criminal history, you can provide evidence for why the criminal records are inaccurate or prove mitigating circumstances such as steady employment or completion of rehabilitation.

If past evictions were the reason for your Section 8 housing disqualifications, you can supply evidence for the circumstances surrounding your eviction. Likewise, you can prove that you have maintained a good rental history since that eviction.

You are allowed a legal counsel or advocate as well as witnesses for your case. There is legal aid available for low-income individuals who cannot afford a lawyer.

  1. Attend the Hearing

For the hearing, bring all of your evidence and witnesses to support your reason that the housing authority should grant you the Section 8 voucher. The housing authority members attending your Section 8 appeal are individuals who had no part in the initial decision.

  1. Receive the Decision

The housing authority will send you a written statement regarding its decision within 10 business days of the hearing. If your Section 8 denial appeal was successful, you will be accepted into the program and placed onto a waiting list. If the housing authority members did not change their decision, you can take further legal action in a state or federal court if you wish to do so. However, legal cases against housing authorities are not easy to win without a lawyer.