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A Guide to Section 8 for Landlords

Over 10 million Americans are afforded federal rental assistance under a program known as Section 8 housing. This federal rental assistance can be used all over the United States, which means that all US landlords should have a basic understanding of what Section 8 is and how it works.

In short, Section 8 housing provides a solution for low-income families and individuals who are in need of housing. But how does Section 8 housing work for landlords?

If you’ve poked around online already, you’ve probably noticed that there are far more resources about Section 8 for tenants than landlords. We’re here to change that.

As always, our goal is to help landlords across the country understand laws and regulations that impact their business. Now, let’s take a look at what Section 8 is, what Section 8 requirements landlords should be aware of, and why you should consider being Section 8-approved.

Section 8: What Does It Mean?

Section 8 was established in 1974 under the Housing and Community Development Act. The federal government was coming to discover that building and managing public housing was far more costly and time-consuming than providing housing assistance. Section 8 vouchers were established to help those who make at least 50% less than the median income in their area.

More specifically, Section 8 vouchers cover up to 70% of a Section 8 tenant’s rent each month. The objective is to make sure that low-income families still have a number of suitable housing options around the nation.

Unfortunately, there are hundreds of thousands of Americans on the waiting list for Section 8. That being said, it’s a successful program for those who qualify and were approved!

How Does Section 8 Housing Work for Landlords?

Section 8 vouchers do not grant Section 8 tenants access to every rental unit in their city. There are certain regulations on what can qualify under Section 8, primarily in regard to rent. Depending on where you live, housing with a certain number of bedrooms, bathrooms, or other amenities may also not qualify for Section 8 housing.

If your property does qualify under Section 8, what steps should you take next? Let’s take a look at what landlords are expected to do for their Section 8 tenants. Keep in mind that these steps are necessary whether you establish your property as an overall Section 8 property or have an individual tenant looking for Section 8 approval.

Contacting the PHA in Your Community

First, you need to contact the Public Housing Authority in your community.

If you have an individual Section 8 tenant, you will need to submit their lease to the local PHA for approval. If you are hoping to establish your overall property as Section 8 housing, you will need to fill out additional paperwork.

Passing the Inspection

Once the PHA has been notified, they will send out a representative to inspect your property. The objective is to ensure quality housing for tenants who use Section 8 vouchers. The representative is checking to ensure that all basic needs (e.g. a working kitchen and bathroom) are covered and that the property is well-maintained.

Once you pass the inspection, you and your tenant(s) may proceed with signing the lease, a copy of which will be requested by the PHA.

Staying in Contact With the PHA

Once you have a Section 8 tenant or get Section 8 approval for your property, it is your job to stay in touch with the PHA. If you intend to raise the rent, for example, you will need to consult with them, first. Remember that in some cases, raising the rent could disqualify your property for Section 8 approval.

The Benefits of Being Section 8-Approved

Some landlords may express concerns about taking in Section 8 tenants. However, it is worth noting that any of these concerns are applicable to non-Section 8 tenants, as well. In fact, Section 8 tenants have already undergone background and credit checks when applying for their Section 8 vouchers and are perfectly suitable tenants.

This isn’t the only benefit of being Section 8 approved. Let’s take a look at the top three reasons that landlords might consider seeking Section 8 approval.

Guaranteed Partial Rent Payments

Each month, the federal government covers up to 70% of a Section 8 tenant’s rent. That means that each month, you are guaranteed to receive at least partial rent, even if your tenant falls on difficult financial times. This can actually lower your risk of financial instability as well as your risk of undergoing a costly eviction process.

If your property is established as a Section 8 property, federal assistance will be provided to all of your tenants. In other words, the voucher is connected to the property, not to each individual tenant.

High Demand

Section 8 housing is always in high demand, both in cities and smaller metropolitan areas. Most landlords with Section 8 approval find that their vacancy rates are low as a result.

Cost-Free Advertising

If you establish your property as Section 8 housing, your listings will appear on websites run by the PHA. As we mentioned earlier, demand is already high, limiting your vacancies overall. When your property is listed with the PHA, you can worry even less about paying for marketing for your property.

Stay Up to Date on Section 8 and More

There are tons of resources out there for tenants seeking Section 8 approval. Few people have answered the question, “How does Section 8 housing work for landlords?” We hope that our guide has given you some insight into what Section 8 is, how it can affect your properties, and why it may benefit your business.

As a landlord, it’s important that you’re up to date on all landlord laws. It’s also important to keep your bills and documents organized.