SmartLaw: Attorney and Lawyer Referral Service. Divorce, bankruptcy, criminal, accident, business
The Los Angeles County Bar Association Lawyer Referral and Information Service, the largest and oldest such service in the United States, has hundreds of pre-screened, qualified and insured lawyers in the Los Angeles area who can help you with your legal issues. Contact us now and our courteous, professionally trained staff will help you connect you with the right lawyer. The LRIS is a nonprofit public service of LACBA.

Message # 905 Tenant rights: Government subsidized housing

mp3 #905 Rights of Tenants in Government Subsidized Housing (mp3 file)

If you are renting an apartment under a section 8 housing assistance payment program, administered by your local housing authority, you have special rights, in addition to the rights of all other tenants under California law. Section 8 housing is a rental assistance program, in which you find your own private rental unit, but part of your rent is paid by your local housing authority.

You have certain rights in relation to your landlord concerning the rental of your apartment, and you have certain rights in relation to the housing authority concerning your certification in the section 8 program.

We will first talk about your rights in relation to your landlord.

Most of your rights and duties as a tenant, and your landlord's rights and duties, are written in your rental lease. You should read the lease to know your rights.

If your landlord fails to perform a duty that your landlord is required to perform under the lease, you should send your landlord a written notice. Send a copy to the housing authority and keep a copy for yourself.

If you fail to perform any part of the lease, your landlord may be able to evict you. To evict you, your landlord must follow all requirements of California law.

If you break a provision of the lease which you can correct, such as failing to pay rent on the date it is due, your landlord can give you a notice to pay rent, or correct the problem in three days, or move out. If you pay the rent or correct the problem within the three days, your landlord can do nothing more. If you do not, your landlord does not have to accept the rent after the three days are over, and can proceed to evict you.

Your section 8 landlord can also give a thirty day notice to move out. The notice must state the reason why you are being evicted.

Your landlord can only evict you for serious or repeated violations of the lease, for violation of federal, state or local law, or for other good cause. Your landlord must take you to court in order to evict you. If your landlord has not followed all the requirements of California law or complied with section 8 rules, the court will not allow you to be evicted.

Now we will talk about your rights in relation to the housing authority.

If you are on a section 8 program and your landlord is able to evict you, the housing authority may refuse to recertify you in the section 8 program, if you have done something which is not allowed under the section 8 program.

If the housing authority refuses to recertify you, you are entitled to a written notice stating the reasons. You are then entitled to an informal hearing, to determine whether the housing authority is justified in terminating you from the section 8 program. You must ask the housing authority for an informal hearing. You should do so by writing a letter to the housing authority. You are allowed to be represented, by an authorized representative or an attorney, at the hearing, and you may present any evidence or bring witnesses. If you are terminated from the section 8 program, you should contact the legal aid office or an attorney, as you may have the right to appeal the termination.

If you are a tenant in a housing project in which the housing authority is the landlord, you have some different rights, and the housing authority is required to follow different procedures to evict you. If the housing authority tries to evict you, you should contact the legal aid office or an attorney.

If you are renting an apartment in a housing project owned or leased by a city or county public housing agency (called PHA), you as a tenant have special rights, which are in addition to the rights all tenants have under California law.


Your first right is that a written lease must be entered into, between you and your PHA landlord. This lease must include the following items:

-A description of your apartment;

-The length of your lease;

-Your monthly rent;

-Any additional charges for upkeep and repair of your apartment;

-Your landlord's responsibilities, which include making necessary repairs reasonably promptly, keeping the electricity, heating, and plumbing in good working condition, and providing hot and cold running water;

-Your responsibilities as a tenant, which include letting only those members of your household, described in your lease, reside at your apartment, keeping your apartment clean and safe, not damaging any part of your apartment, and not disturbing the peace of your neighbors;

-And finally, your lease must include a statement that both you and your landlord will inspect your apartment before you move in, and you both will sign a written statement which describes the condition of your apartment at that time.

Second, your PHA landlord must not terminate your lease, unless you fail to pay the rent, or unless you fail to perform any of the tenant obligations just mentioned.

If your PHA landlord decides to terminate your lease, the PHA must:

1. Give you a 14 day written notice for you to move out, if the reason is failure to pay rent; or

2. Give you a 30 day written notice of termination if the reason is for other good cause.

The notice must state the reasons for the termination and inform you of your right to request a grievance hearing.

Before the actual hearing, an informal conference will be held between you and your PHA landlord to see if the problem can be solved without a formal hearing. You may present your grievance to the PHA landlord either in person or in writing.

If you are not satisfied with the result of your informal conference you must submit a written request for a formal hearing to your PHA landlord. Your written request must state the reasons for your grievance and what you want.

The next step is the selection by you and your PHA landlord of a hearing officer. Once this is done, you will receive a written notice of the time, place, and procedures of the hearing.

At the hearing, you have the right to be represented by an attorney, to present evidence, and examine witnesses.

After the hearing, the hearing officer will send a written decision to you and your PHA landlord.

Even if the hearing officer agrees with the PHA’s decision to require you to move out, you still have the right to stay in your apartment, and have a trial in small claims or superior court regarding the eviction. The eviction action brought by the PHA, as your landlord, must follow the California eviction procedure. Before you go to court, you should contact a legal aid office or an attorney.

We have just discussed some basic procedures that are applicable for most section 8, CHFA, and other public housing programs. Each program is different so you should consult your lease, the public housing authority, or legal aid office to learn what procedures apply to you.

Back to Top