Having a landlord opt-out of a Section 8 contract can be a frightening experience for tenants. Tenants may also receive misinformation from landlords and other contacts. But tenants do have rights; if you reside in a private, project based Section 8 property and your landlord decides not to renew your contract, you have the right to remain in your unit. Your landlord cannot evict you.

How ‘Right to Remain’ Works

HUD provides Enhanced Section 8 Vouchers (EVs) to residents of properties with private, project-based assistance when an “eligibility event” takes place. Typically, this happens when a project-based Section 8 contract expires and the owner decides to ‘opt-out’ of the contract. Prepayment of certain unrestricted HUD-insured mortgages (generally Section 236 and Section 221(d)(3) projects) is another instance where tenants would be eligible for EV. Check out this HUD brochure to read more about the rights of tenants with Enhanced Vouchers.

A household receiving an EV has the right to remain in its previously-assisted home. The property owner must accept the EV. However, the household does not have to remain; it may instead opt to move out with a regular Housing Choice Voucher (HCV). A household accepting an EV may choose to move later, but then its EV converts to a regular HCV. Once an EV converts to a regular HCV, it cannot be converted back to an EV, unless a conversion event takes place at the new property. Tenants must pass a re-screening process before receive an enhanced voucher.

An EV will pay the owner the difference between a tenant’s required contribution toward rent and the new market-based rent charged by the owner after the owner opts-out of the Section 8 contract (also referred to as “housing conversion action”), even if that new rent is greater than the PHA’s basic voucher payment standard. A PHA’s regular voucher payment standard is between 90% and 110% of the Fair Market Rent (FMR). In most cases, a household will continue to pay 30% of its income toward rent and utilities. However, households must continue to pay toward rent at least the same amount they were paying for rent on the date of the housing conversion action, even if it is more than 30% of their income.

Tenants eligible for EVs should be notified by their landlord/PHA at least 4 months before the expiration of their building's Section 8 contract. This notification should contain information about scheduling a on-on-one meeting and the recertification/screening process.

HUD’s Office of Multifamily Housing Programs sent a memorandum to all owners of HUD-assisted multifamily housing on June 5 2014, reminding them that households with “enhanced vouchers” have a “right to remain” in their homes. National Alliance of HUD Tenants (NAHT) has pressed for such a memorandum because some of its members have been threatened with eviction by owners who fail to recognize the statutory right to remain.