Section 8 Housing: Safety Net or Tangled Web? An Overview of Section 8 Tenancy Termination and Related Due Process Issues


There is no question that the federal government’s Section 8 housing assistance rent subsidy provides an invaluable safety net to impoverished, elderly, and disabled members of our community. The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) assists more than 2 million households by providing either “project-based” or “tenant based” rent subsidies through its Section 8 housing assistance program. With the continued downturn in the economy, the waitlists for tenants to receive Section 8 housing subsidies are rapidly growing. The federal government has attempted to alleviate some of this burden by relaxing various regulations to encourage landlords to participate in Section 8 housing programs. However, many landlords remain skeptical about subjecting themselves to the additional administrative burdens accompanying the Section 8 housing program, particularly in those jurisdictions with rent control ordinances.

Despite the need for Section 8 housing, landlord participation in the Section 8 program is not required. Once a landlord ventures into the realm of Section 8, however, there are numerous administrative challenges associated with exiting the program. Accordingly, when weighing the decision of whether or not to become involved as a landlord in the Section 8 program, it is important from the outset to consider the requirements imposed on a landlord in entering into or terminating a Section 8 lease.

This article is intended to highlight a few of the procedural hurdles and hidden traps associated with terminating Section 8 tenancies, as well as related Section 8 housing assistance contracts, as illustrated in a handful of California and Ninth Circuit cases decided over the past few years.

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