The term Section 8 refers to housing vouchers provided to low-income individuals and families by the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Some people have the mistaken impression that Section 8 housing refers to certain housing developments, and while HUD may maintain such housing, a person may use this voucher as a real estate allowance at any real estate rental available that accepts these vouchers.
The Federal Government of the United States has always given attention to housing needs as they’ve become apparent. During the Great Depression of the late 1920’s and 1930’s, the Federal Government began developing programs that would subsidize housing for the poorest citizens, and continued this program in the 1960’s as there was an obvious shortage of affordable homes, and that persons were spending a large portion of their income on housing. The Section 8 program of the U.S. Housing Act was created, wherein a tenant will pay 30% of their income for housing rent, and the rest being subsidized by the government.
While it may seem like a good deal for both tenants and landlords to accept these Section 8 vouchers, many landlords refuse to do so. It may be due to the fact that the government will regularly inspect any premises that accept such vouchers. Also, the government will not allow charges above what it deems the fair market value of a rental, and some landlords do not want this amount to be dictated to them. There are also many more legalities in evicting a Section 8 tenant, as the government will provide this tenant with a lawyer free of charge. Landlords realize they must have quite a lot of detailed documentation to substantiate their complaints in the case of a Section 8 tenant.
In some areas, landlords have enough waiting tenants that are not enrolled in the Section 8 program so as to not necessitate their accepting such vouchers; the extra paperwork involved makes it not worth their time if they have other tenants they can choose from. They may also worry that those enrolled in this program may not maintain the property as they should.
On the pro side, landlords that are willing to accept the government vouchers will never have to worry about not getting the rent. The government pays the rent directly to the landlord each and every month. The landlord will still have to collect the tenants’ part of the rent from the tenants themselves.
There is a limited amount of money available for the HUD program and the waiting list for tenants to get on the program is quite long. If a tenant refuses to pay his share of the rent or they are damaging your property in any way, you can report them to the HUD authorities. If the HUD authorities find your claim justified they can remove the tenant from the program for up to five years. Most tenants are not willing to put their HUD status in jeopardy and will comply with all of your rental requirements.
Whether or not a landlord accepts the HUD vouchers, they do still need to abide by Fair Housing standards. This mean they are not allowed to refuse a tenant based on nationality, race, religion, marital status, and other such circumstances.
For those landlords who do accept HUD vouchers, they can be assured that there will always be a bank of tenants waiting for housing. It’s not unusual for there to be more person with Section 8 vouchers than there is available housing. If you own rental property, you do well to thoroughly investigate all the pros and cons of accepting these vouchers for your own property.