The Section 8 housing program was started in 1937 to help low-income families in America access decent living conditions, and today, it supports 3 million families.
Many of these families are single-parent households with one or more children. An understanding landlord who rents to Section 8 tenants can change the lives of some of the most desperate in society.
Landlords looking to help this way should know how Section 8 vouchers work, these tenants' unique risk factors, and how the law treats low-income renters. Keep reading to learn about these and other vital aspects of renting to assisted tenants.
How Section 8 Works
Section 8 vouchers are handed out to struggling families by the local public housing agency (PHA). The PHA checks to see if a family is eligible for the support, and as a rule of thumb, the families that qualify make less than 50% of the area's median income.
Eligible families have to pay 30% of their monthly income toward rent and utility, and the PHA directly pays whatever is outstanding (usually a much higher amount) to the landlord or property manager.
Average Section 8 Families
Anyone who meets the income and other requirements can qualify for Section 8 vouchers. Though it's scarce for people with criminal records to apply successfully, only people on registered offender lists are disqualified from the program.
However, households with dependent children, the elderly, and folks with disabilities do get a priority during applications.
Having Section 8 tenants can come with some unique benefits that many landlords overlook. The main advantage is that most of your rent is guaranteed to be paid monthly.
Your local PHA will transfer their portion of the rent to your account on the same day of each month. It's also likely that your tenants won't miss payments because this can lead to them losing their Section 8 eligibility.
Another advantage is that the Section 8 requirements disqualify anyone with an eviction history. This way, you know you're getting better-behaved and reliable tenants.
Lastly, you also give back to the needy in your area. This can strengthen the fabric of your community in ways most people never realize unless they're down and out.
Section 8 tenants can also come with unique challenges to property owners. Firstly, the PHA pays within upper and lower limits based on the county's average market price. This gives you less wiggle room in setting your rental price than you would otherwise have.
There are much stricter laws related to evicting Section 8 tenants. You must keep detailed records of the eviction process and send all the paperwork to the PHA in real time. However, some of the application requirements reduce the likelihood of this happening.
Lastly, the tenants move in before you get your first rent. This means you'll be in a backward cash flow position for a few days or weeks, which you may not be used to.
How Property Management Can Help a Property Owner
Making your property available to Section 8 tenants is a great way to give back to society as a landlord. It can also come with significant economic benefits on top of social use. However, Section 8 tenants also pose unique challenges.
Though your rent is guaranteed at the start, it does come later than with full-paying tenants. Also, though the system selects reliable tenants in need, evicting bad ones that do make it through can be more tricky.
In any event, you'll want great advice from industry professionals. Contact us today to see if you should open your property to Section 8 tenants.