Should You Rent Your Property to Section 8 Tenants?

Daniel Penzing
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How It Works

Section 8 housing is a type of federal housing assistance. It comes in the form of a voucher, which allows a tenant to rent a place and make a small contribution.

The main aim of Section 8 is to help low income families find a home. If you’re the owner of a home, then you might be able to avail of Section 8 program to help cover your mortgage and other expenses. If you’re worried that renting to Section 8 tenants will come with too many challenges, then you’ll be happy to know that the program isn’t as complicated as you might think.

The Section 8 program itself doesn’t provide housing to families and individuals. Instead, it gives them a voucher to help cover their rent. If you are the owner of a home and have a rental agreement with a Section 8 tenant, then you’re probably wondering if the Section 8 program will work for you … and if it does, how you can make the most of the benefits available. In this article, we’ll talk about the ins and outs of Section 8 so that you can make an informed decision.

Do You Qualify?

Eligibility

The initial hurdle for eligibility with the Section 8 housing program is low to non-existent, especially in a city like New Orleans where the number of applicants is significantly higher than the number of available units. In most cases, the only requirement participants have to meet is income.

If you find that a prospective client or tenant who wants to move into your property earns well below the limit, chances are they will be approved. Not all participants are low-income families, however. Some seniors who have had to leave their homes after hurricanes Katrina and Rita have been given priority under the Section 8 program because it’s important for people at an advanced age to have a stable place to live that’s close to their families. Elderly people living on very low incomes are usually much less mobile than they were in their younger years.

Advantages to Landlords Who Accept Section 8 Vouchers

Some landlords who are unfamiliar with Section 8 vouchers may be hesitant to accept them, especially if they really put the property through a workout (as in the annual clean-up). But the advantages far outweigh the disadvantages of using Section 8 vouchers. Just as important as accepting Section 8 vouchers are knowing the right ways to accept them.

The Benefits of Accepting Section 8 Vouchers

  1. Section 8 vouchers are not considered rent, but are rather considered payment toward the monthly rental amount. This is because Section 8 vouchers protect tenants from eviction, providing they continue to pay their portion of the rent, leaving you to collect the rent from them on time.
  2. With Section 8 vouchers, your rental property will appear to be better maintained, as landlords who accept Section 8 vouchers are not permitted to rent substandard housing.
  3. Landlords who accept Section 8 vouchers are not responsible for maintaining or paying for any of the utilities that are not included in the rent amount. This is true for both single-family and multi-family properties.

Disadvantages of Housing Voucher Program Participation

Section 8 housing vouchers are a kind of federal government assistance program. The program gives families a subsidized rent payment. In order to qualify for the program, the family needs to be below the poverty level. Eligible families are placed in the housing program, while others are placed on a waiting list.

When a family signs up for a housing voucher program, the family must select a unit from the programs own listings. Many owners and landlords do not want to apply for participation with the voucher program. If a landlord is participating, the landlord will often add additional costs that the tenant does not need to pay. Tenants must pay for any additional costs during a renewal.

The rent voucher program is not usually a bonus for an owner. The program is very complicated for landlords to deal with. The landlord requires special training and certification to legally participate in the program. This makes it difficult for small, local landlords to participate in the government assistance program.

Another problem that landlords face is that the rentals rates are based on the federal government’s Poverty Index. The rates are determined by the number of people in a household.

The landlord is allowed to charge the renter a fee to pay for the management of the voucher program. This fee must be approved by a third party or the property owner will not be accepted into the program.

Summary

Section 8 is a federal housing program for families whose income is below the poverty line. You can receive payments to help offset the cost of renting them a unit, and you’ll never be able to increase the rental price. Section 8 housing has worked well for families with older units, and it has helped many families move to safer areas closer to work.

When it comes to finding Section 8 tenants, you will need to do more referencing and screening than for some other types of people.Anyone who accepts Section 8 funds must apply in writing, starting with your landlord.

The program has strict guidelines regarding how you can contract with tenants, especially concerning eviction. There are also certain requirements to follow if you decide to evict a family in the program from your property.

Just because you have a unit available for Section 8, don’t assume you’ll be flooded with letters…it’s a lot of work, and you may not always get a high volume of interest. It’s also possible that if you apply to the program, you’ll be turned down as an approved landlord.

Here are some general guidelines for Section 8 rental housing to help you decide.