Essentially the same rules apply to Section 8 as to private landlord-tenant relationships, but there are a few extra issues. The main difference is that Section 8 pays a portion of the tenant's rent to the landlord (the tenant usually pays 30% of their income for rent).
On Oahu, there are two separate places a person can apply for Section 8 assistance: the City and County of Honolulu, and HPHA. The waiting lists are extremely long, and are currently closed indefinitely.
Eviction = Termination of Section 8
Generally speaking, if a tenant is evicted by their landlord, the tenant will lose his or her Section 8. This should be avoided at all costs. Once a tenant is terminated from Section 8, it is next to impossible to get assistance again. Often tenants can negotiate a settlement with their landlord to ensure that they are not "technically" evicted, which may allow them to preserve their Section 8. If a tenant's lease merely expires, the tenant will have to move, but the tenant will be able to use their Section 8 somewhere else.
Due Process Rights
If a termination of a tenant's Section 8 benefits is threatened, the tenant has the right to dispute the termination through an informal meeting followed by a hearing. However, the tenant must act promptly (with as little as 10 days) to dispute the decision and ensure that their rights are not forfeited.
Finding a Place in Time
A tenant only has a certain amount of time, usually 60 days, to find a place to rent with their voucher once it has been issued. If they cannto find a place in time, they will lose their Section 8 assistance. Also, the place must meet all the Section 8 requirements which include rigorous Housing Quality Standards (which require the unit to be in a certain physical condition).
Other Differences from Private Landlord-Tenant
Initially, the lease term must be either 6 months or 1 year. During the initial lease period, the landlord can only terminate the lease "for cause." After the initial lease term expires, the landlord may convert the tenancy into a month-to-month, at which point the landlord will be able to terminate the lease with 45 days written notice.
There are additional notice requirements that the landlord must follow when trying to adjust a tenant's rent or evict the tenant. For example, a landlord must provide 60 days notice to increase a tenant's rent instead of 45 days under the Code.
The Violence Against Women ACT (VAWA)
VAWA provides additional protections for tenants of public housing and Section 8 recipients who are victims of domestic violence, dating violence, or stalking.
Under VAWA, victims cannot be evicted or lose their housing subsidy for incidents of abuse against them. For example, if an abuser damages the unit of the victim, the victim cannot be evicted for a lease violation. If the abuser is part of the household, the abuser can be evicted and their subsidy terminated, while the victim is allowed to retain their housing and their subsidy.
Victims of domestic violence, dating violence, or stalking also cannot be denied housing based on their victim status. For example, a victim's application should not be rejected because damages caused by an abuser to a unit previously rented by the victim or because of a bad credit history caused by financial abuse. VAWA is currently applicable to only public housing and Section 8. It does not apply to other housing subsidies. VAWA was enacted in January 2006. Because VAWA is relatively new, landlords and administrators of public housing and the Section 8 program may not be familiar with its requirements.