Leasing a unit

Instructions for voucher holders

If you receive voucher assistance through the Housing Choice Voucher program (formerly 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 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. You can find rental listings at AffordableHousing.com, a website SHA encourages participating landlords to list their vacancies on, and on other rental listing websites found here.

Your Voucher will expire after 120 days and the Housing Choice Voucher Program must receive your leasing kit prior to the expiration date. Seattle Housing Authority may only grant extensions upon written request submitted before the voucher expiration date.

2. Give the required documents to the landlord

When you are issued a voucher you will receive a Leasing Kit that you will need to give to the landlord once they have approved your application.

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

  • The landlord should complete, sign, and date the Leasing Kit forms as soon as possible.

  • You will also sign and date the appropriate Leasing Kit forms.

  • The Leasing Kit must be returned to the SHA New Move-In Team. They may be faxed to 206-239-1760, walked in, or mailed to:

Housing Choice Voucher Program
Attn: New Move-In Team
101 Elliott Ave W, Suite 100
P.O. Box 79015,
Seattle, Washington, 98119.

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

Once the agency receives all required forms, they will be checked to make sure the information provided is complete and accurate. The unit must be affordable for you as well as be rent reasonable for the neighborhood it is located in.

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, however if they do not agree to a rent that meets both of the requirements, 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 (HQS) 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

Once the unit passes the HQS inspection, you may sign your 12-month lease and move in.

Leasing help

If you have any questions about this process, please begin with contacting your Certification Specialist.