Can I Rent a Three Bedroom Apartment with a Two Bedroom Voucher?

If you have a housing voucher, and you can find an apartment within the right rent range, you can just rent it, no matter how many extra bedrooms it has!

For example, you can have a two bedroom voucher and rent a three bedroom apartment as long as it fits within the right price. However, this plan may come with a few catches. . .

Catch #1

Although this seems like a good idea, sometimes it does not work out perfectly. Eventually the landlord may realize they could get a tenant with a larger voucher and get more money. After you have been there for a year, the landlord has a right to raise the rent.

If this happens, the Housing Authority will give you the option to either pay the additional yourself, or move to a less expensive place.

Catch #2

Voucher amounts are very confusing and easy to misunderstand. Before going forward, you might wish to double check how much rent your voucher will actually pay: How Payment Standards Work

Tip: If utilities are not included in your rent, make sure to deduct the cost of utilities before figuring out how much your voucher is worth. Housing Authorities do not always explain this to people and many people wind up wasting time and money looking in the wrong price range.

Catch #3

Even if your Housing Authority allows you the extra bedrooms, there’s a chance your landlord will not allow it. If you are applying to a low income or “income restricted” property, they may have their own policies on bedrooms.

You can ask the property manager, or if you’d like to see it in writing, request a copy of their “bedroom policy” or “occupancy policy.”

More Options

In some situations, you can request that your voucher be increased to add an extra bedroom: Five Ways to Request an Additional Bedroom

Update

We’ve heard reports from some readers that the Housing Authority is not allowing them to rent a place with extra bedrooms, even if it falls within payment standard.

Although this is not a common policy, it may exist in some areas. You can ask your housing program for a written copy of their bedroom policies or check their administrative plan to see if your housing program has created a policy like this.

If you or someone in your household is disabled, and this policy is keeping you from being able to rent the place that best suits your disability needs, you can also request an accommodation for an exception to this policy.

11 thoughts on “Can I Rent a Three Bedroom Apartment with a Two Bedroom Voucher?”

  1. I am very confused and frustrated. I have lived in my apt since 2003 and I live in a 2 bedroom 1 and half bath. My son has moved out and that downsized me to a one bedroom voucher if I decide to move. My apartment went into an abatement because of a failed special inspection and during that time I was already searching for a one bedroom but one of the workers at sec8 told me to look for a 2 bedroom because there aren’t any 1 bedrooms really available now. So, I began to look for a 2 bedroom, the inspector comes and passes the moldy closet but I still want to move. My voucher for a 1 bedroom is $1,117 if I move. However, the 2 bedroom I applied for and have been approved for is $996 monthly. I also put in for a portability transfer to another city. I’m afraid to put in my 60 day notice where I am now because I don’t want to get denied the 2 bedroom. I’ve already put in a vacate move/voucher request and a portability transfer request paperwork. What should I expect? I also receive SSI Disability. Would things move along smoothly? Would I get denied this 2 bedroom?

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    1. This page includes information where you can figure out how much you can spend and what will pass and won’t pass. If it’s 996+ utilities it might be close but it might pass.

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  2. I have a 1,006 for 1 bedroom and a SSI monthly check of $881
    I cannot find a bedroom even in the low income building
    First of all my credit is killing me. No good
    Second of all, even the rent is below $1,000,
    I told them that my voucher covers the rent I won’t have nothing too pay you what the credit has to do with it.
    I am a good, clean and very responsible in manners of keeping the apartment in excellent condition….
    some said that I need 3.0 x 3 of the monthly rent as income
    Some said 2.5 x 3
    I really don’t know what to do neither where to turn and my voucher will be expired in 12 days May 15th

    Can you help please?

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  3. I have a 3 bedroom section 8 voucher and i have been in my home for a year. my son is moving out. will I lose my home, because he is moving out? I live in texas.

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    1. If someone in the household is disabled, you may be able to request a reasonable accommodation if the room is needed for other reasons, or if moving would be too difficult for your disabilities. If no one is disabled, you would have the option to pay more rent or to move to a smaller apartment.

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  4. I have a voucher for a $1600 one bedroom. I found a 2 bedroom for $1577 and I’m being told I can’t have the apt because it’s a two bedroom. What should I do?

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    1. $1600 1bd Great! I don’t know why or whose purpose of being misleading. As, long as your within voucher amt, you have every right, along with being allowed to pay up to 40% of your income. Utilities do not lower the value of voucher. Which would make no sense ex; Utilities minus a % from income…Now Section8; lower value, so as to put a burden on a low income.

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    2. I was told the same (rent a 2 bedroom with a 1 bedroom voucher even though the 2 bedroom is way within the voucher limit). Well, does it say 2 bedrooms on the lease? In my case they never really check besides for the inspections for fire alarms, leaks and I don’t think they care.

      My current place could technically be a 2 bedroom, but it’s so small (less than 400 s. feet) the second room is just written off as a living room. If it doesn’t say 2 bedrooms on the lease could the second room just be called an office, or medical space?

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