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If you receive voucher assistance through the Housing Choice Voucher Program (Section 8), the initial term of your lease will generally be 12 months. If you want to start using a voucher for a unit in which you have already been living, a new lease will be required.

Landlords use the same lease for voucher-assisted tenants that they use for other renters, as long as the lease includes:

  • The names of the landlord and tenant
  • The address of the unit, including apartment number
  • The monthly rent paid to the landlord
  • A list of utilities and appliances supplied by the landlord
  • A list of utilities and appliances supplied by the tenant

How to lease a unit

After you are given a voucher and educated about how to use it, you can begin the seven-step leasing process.

1. Find a suitable unit

It is your responsibility to find a suitable unit and explain to the landlord that you have rental assistance through the Housing Choice Voucher Program (also known as Section 8). To help you find housing, Seattle Housing Authority maintains lists of units for rent in the Seattle area. You can find these rental listings on this website or pick them up at the Housing Service Center, located on the first floor of our Central Office.

When you find a unit, the landlord will conduct a background check before entering into a lease agreement. Landlords may ask Seattle Housing Authority to supply the name and address of your current and previous landlords to help with the screening process.

Please note that vouchers can expire. You must begin the leasing process with a landlord within 60 days of receiving your voucher, unless given an extension. Seattle Housing Authority will only grant extensions upon written request from you, submitted before the voucher expiration date.

2. Give the required documents to the landlord

When you are issued a voucher you will receive four documents that should be given to your landlord: a Request for Tenancy Approval form, a Lead-Based Paint Disclosure form, a W-9 form, and a sample copy of the Housing Assistance Payments Contract. Give these forms to the landlord after they have screened and agreed to rent to you.

3. The landlord completes the required documents and sends them to Seattle Housing Authority

The landlord should complete, sign, and date the three forms as soon as possible. You will also sign and date the Request for Tenancy Approval and Lead-Based Paint Disclosure forms.

The landlord must fax the completed forms to the New Move-In Team at 206-239-1760, or mail them to:

Housing Choice Voucher Program
Attn: New Move-In Team
Seattle Housing Authority
190 Queen Anne Ave N
Seattle, WA 98109-1028

4. Seattle Housing Authority reviews the documents and approves the proposed rent

Once the agency receives all required documents from the landlord, they will be checked to make sure the information provided is complete and accurate. The proposed rent for the unit must also pass two tests.

  1. The rent is affordable—During the first lease term, your portion of rent and utilities cannot exceed 40 percent of the your monthly income. Side agreements requiring you to pay more than 40 percent of income are prohibited.

  2. The rent is reasonable—The rent must be comparable to similar units in the same area. Seattle Housing Authority decides if rent is "reasonable" based on an inspection of the unit and market data about rent levels in Seattle.

If the proposed rent does not pass both of these tests, the landlord will be asked to negotiate a lower rent. Landlords are never required to lower rent, but if they do not agree to a rent that meets both requirements noted above, you will have to find another unit.

5. Seattle Housing Authority inspects the unit

If the proposed rent is affordable and reasonable, Seattle Housing Authority contacts the landlord to schedule a Housing Quality Standards inspection of the unit. These inspections make sure that housing is decent, safe, and sanitary. The inspector may find items that must be fixed before the unit is approved for the program. In that case, the landlord will be given a reasonable amount of time to fix the problems, and the unit will be inspected again.

You should not move in before the unit passes inspection. If you do, you will be responsible for paying the entire rent amount due for that period.

6. The unit passes inspection and the contract and Tenancy Addendum are mailed to the landlord

You may move into the unit when it passes inspection.

Seattle Housing Authority will then send the Housing Assistance Payment contract and Tenancy Addendum to the landlord. The contract is an agreement between the landlord and Seattle Housing Authority, describing how the agency will make subsidy payments to the landlord on your behalf. The Tenancy Addendum is required by HUD and should be attached to the landlord's standard lease.

7. You and the landlord sign the lease and Tenancy Addendum, the landlord signs the contract, and all forms are returned to Seattle Housing Authority

After the landlord receives the Housing Assistance Payment contract and Tenancy Addendum, they sign the lease and the Addendum with you, sign the contract, and return a copy of all three signed documents to Seattle Housing Authority.

The landlord should keep a copy of the signed contract, and both you and the landlord should keep a copy of the signed lease and Addendum. Seattle Housing Authority accepts these forms by mail, fax, or in person at our Central Office:

Housing Choice Voucher Program
Seattle Housing Authority
P.O. Box 19028
190 Queen Anne Ave N
Seattle, WA 98109-1028

Leasing help

For any questions about the leasing process, including rent negotiation, call the New Move-In Team at 206-239-1672.