Apartment Lighting

What You Need to Know About Section 8 Housing

Section 8 Housing

The Section 8 Act of 1937 is a landmark piece of legislation that has helped millions of Americans find affordable housing for more than 80 years. Currently, it offers rental housing assistance for almost 5 million Americans, but the ins and outs of it can be tricky to navigate. It is still an incredibly helpful government program that helps millions of people afford housing every year.

What is Section 8 For?

Section 8 is intended for individuals who are forced to pay an above-average amount of their income for rent. It basically boils down to individuals that the need for a place to live means sacrificing other basic amenities such as food and clothing. These subsidies help such individuals afford housing units.

 

How Does Section 8 Work?

The main way that Section 8 works is through a voucher system. The vouchers can work in two ways:

  • A “project-based” voucher that is used only within a specific apartment complex.
  • A “tenant-based” voucher where a tenant may choose any unit in the private sector.

 

Under this program, individuals or families with vouchers may find and lease a unit and pay a portion of the rent. This portion is based on the adjusted income of the tenants and most pay approximately 30% of their adjusted income on rent.

What is Adjusted Income?

The adjusted income of an individual or family is determined through a formula. It is the households total gross income minus deduction for dependents under 18, full-time students, and disabled persons. Age (if elderly) is also a factor, as well as certain disability assistance and medical expenses. This is determined through an asset test that is administered when looking for a property. After income calculations, most Section 8 allowances will subsidize roughly 70% of a person’s rent, reducing the portion they are responsible for to 30% of the total.

Where Can Section 8 be Used?

Section 8 is a federal program, so most Section 8 vouchers can be accepted anywhere in the 50 states, District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. Residency requirements are a factor, however, so in most states you must live there for 12 months before you can leave. Local states and municipalities have their own rules as well. Another key factor is that income changes (such as a raise or promotion) or changes in living situation (such as having a child) must be reported or they can result in being expelled from the program.

How Do I Find Section 8 Housing?

Individual states have their own pages through the national HUD websitethat offer a wealth of resources for individuals seeking Section 8 assistance. The HUD also has its own pageof detailed guidelines and regulations on you can obtain or keep any Section 8 benefits.

The bottom line is that Section 8 Housing is designed to assist individuals in finding affordable housing anywhere in the country. Many local offices are also available to help with any additional questions you may have.

pet friendly

Signing a Pet Agreement Contract

pet agreement contract

Your new apartment is meant to be a home for all of your immediate family, and that includes your furry family members. Many apartment buildings and complexes are now pet friendly, meaning you can bring your cats and dogs with you when you move. Many times residents have to pay an additional fee up front and their rent may have an extra charge each month, but those are things outlined in the “Pet Agreement” portion of the lease. You may not know what is involved in a Pet Agreement, but here are some of the common parts of a basic Pet agreement contract that is in most leases.

Type of Pets Allowed

Pet agreements are designs to protect both tenants and property managers. It outlines the rules for owning a pet on the property for all tenants, including non-pet owners. It helps state which types of animals are allowed to be pets. Some properties won’t allow “dangerous breeds” of dogs such as pit bulls. These agreements also may set a weight limit on dogs. It is also common to state that the only pets allowed are those owned by the tenant, so guests cannot bring their pets when visiting.

Some landlords and property managers may only allow dogs and cats, while others can allow more exotic animals. Something as simple as a goldfish generally doesn’t apply to a pet policy, but lizards, snakes, and other exotic animals.

Licenses and Vaccinations

A Pet Agreement also outlines that a pet owner should follow proper health and identification processes. This means making sure pets have a proper ID tag on their collars and that they also have all of their vaccinations. There are  local ordinances require concerning regular cat and dog vaccinations and licenses, so property managers will insist on proof of compliance.

Pet Fees

Keeping up after pets is important, so a pet agreement will outline any additional fees necessary as well as the rules for keeping pets under control. Tenants are required to clean up after their pets both inside and outside the apartment. Some may even require pet owners to carry renter’s insurance in order to cover damage caused by pets. If there are additional fees such as a pet deposit or an additional monthly charge on top of rent it will also be outlined in the Pet Agreement Contract.

Finally, a pet agreement contract is often subject to change. Sometimes a landlord will have a “grandfather clause” exempting tenants already in the building from having to comply with the new rules for pets they already had before the changes took place. Typically, property managers will give 30 days’ notice before any changes to the pet policy will take effect.

roommate agreement

Alternative Wall Coverings for Your Apartment

When you rent an apartment you want to make it your own. It might be your first place that is truly your own, so you want to put your personal stamp on it. Unfortunately, many times landlords have limitations on what you can put on the walls. Some may not allow nail holes to hang artwork or photos, while others may not allow you to paint the walls. There are other options, however. Here are some ideas for alternative wall coverings that can help you truly make your new apartment your own.

Temporary Wallpaper

It can be tricky to put up smoothly, but there are types of wallpaper that are considered strippable or peelable. This is specifically designed to be removed easily with an adhesive that holds it on the wall, but is not very strong. This type of wallpaper can easily be found at moge large hardware stores.

Peel and Stick Tiles

Want to create your own backsplash in the bathroom or kitchen? You can now cover up an existing backsplash with temporary peel-and-stick tiles. They can be removed easily with no residue and be cut to fit your specific space.

Wall Decals

Companies like Fathead have made a name for themselves lately by producing officially licensed large wall decals. You can get life-sized decals of your favorite sports logos or players, licensed characters from your favorite film size, and more.

Fabric or Curtains

There are a couple of options you can use here.  You can stretch your fabric tightly over the wall, then secure it using thumbtacks or small nails, or you can buy inexpensive foam boards that are as tall as your walls, cover them with fabric, then attach the boards to the wall. Curtains may seem a bit odd, but with an ordinary curtain rod you can hang any number of good looking fabrics from ceiling to floor.

Decorative Tape

In recent years there have been hundreds of different designs developed for decorative tape. It comes in several colors and styles and you can make any design you wish. Decorative tape goes on like masking tape and can therefore be easily removed when it comes time for you to move. You can even get creative and use wrapping paper to create larger, more complex designs. Just be forewarned that it may be very fragile.

These are just a few of your options for ways to decorate your walls that won’t leave any damage. You also don’t have to worry about repainting when it comes time to move.

Budget Worksheet

Making a Budget Worksheet for Your Apartment

Budget Worksheet

Moving out on your own for the first time can be stressful. There are a lot of things you need to learn to juggle, including budgets. When you first rent an apartment forming a budget for food, rent, utilities, and more can seem like a daunting task. That is why creating a budget worksheet is a great idea. By creating a budget worksheet you can get down on paper what you expect your monthly expenses will be compared to your income. It helps you keep track of your finances and even prepare for any surprises.

Three Budgeting Principles

When creating a budget worksheet there are three principles you’re looking for: You want to understand where your money is going each month, you want to get a foundation for how to save more and spend less, and you want to be able to get control of your money. These three principles will help you get an idea of where you are currently and where you would like to go.

Mark Your Income

It is never a good idea to spend more money than you have, so figuring out your income is the first step. If you have a steady job this can be an easy part, as you likely have a set income each month. If you have some side jobs in the gig economy some months can be better than others, but you can take that into account. For example: If you earn extra money shoveling snow on the side you’re going to have more income in January as opposed to June. Be sure to use your best judgement.

Figure Your Expenses

Some of these will be easier than others. Your rent is going to be static for each month of your lease. The same is true for a car payment, student loan, or anything else. Utilities will vary, but not by much. Where you really start to see your budget is in your variable expenses. What do you spend each month on eating out or going out to bars? How much do you spend on entertainment? It is these variable expenses that can be cut if necessary.

Figure Out Your Goals

Do you want to save more? Then write down a specific dollar amount you want to save each month and consider it an expense. You can even start a savings account and set up an automatic draft from checking for a certain amount each month, or even each week. Time it with when your paycheck arrives so that you know you will have the money there to save. Be sure to check on your spending each week and adjust as needed.

With these tips it is easy to get a handle on your finances and see where some sacrifices (if any) need to be made. You can even purchase budgeting programs such as Quicken that will show you where your money is going over time.