Should I Accept Section 8 Housing Vouchers for
My Rental Property?
Landlords who accept Section 8 housing vouchers will be the first to tell you, there's pros and cons. Let's explore whether or not Section 8 vouchers are for you;
In Greater Cleveland and surrounding cities, the Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority (CMHA) administers rent subsidy programs. The Housing Choice Voucher Program, more commonly known as Section 8, is a federal government program to “assist very low-income families, the elderly, and the disabled to afford decent, safe, and sanitary housing in the private market.”
The actual vouchers are provided by CMHA who receive federal funds from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). The subsidy is paid directly to the Landlord by the CMHA on behalf of the participant, who then pays the difference between the actual rent charged by the Owner and the amount subsidized by the program.
For some Landlords, accepting Section 8 vouchers can be very beneficial and there are some definite perks, so you shouldn’t automatically rule it out.
Pros of accepting Section 8 for Cleveland rental properties:
Guaranteed, on-time, monthly rent - Notably one of the biggest advantages of accepting Section 8, is that a substantial amount of what you are owed will show up reliably and on time each and every month.
Even if the Tenant slips into late payments, you’re guaranteed at least a large percentage of the rent rate.
Larger pool of applicants - Accepting Tenants with section 8 vouchers opens up your market significantly.
Allowing prospective Renters who wouldn’t otherwise be able to afford unsubsidized housing can give you a competitive advantage over other Landlords in your area.
Higher rental rates for certain properties - In some cases, depending on the property and its location, fair market rent may be higher than what you would be able to get for it normally.
Less frequent turnover - Let's face it, it's sometimes difficult for Section 8 Tenants to find quality housing. And, it's also very difficult to move. So, if you provide quality housing, and you take good care of the Tenants, you will likely see very high renewal rates.
The HUD offers a breakdown of FMR by county which can help you determine if
accepting Section 8 would be in your benefit or not.
Something to consider; if you own higher end properties in affluent neighborhoods, it probably wouldn’t be in your best interest to accept Section 8 vouchers.The rents you can collect from those rentals properties will be higher than what the government will allow you to charge in order to be approved as a Section 8 housing provider.
Cons of accepting Section 8 for Cleveland rental properties:
Slow processing times - It can take awhile before you start to receive rent payments from CMHA while they get all of the necessary paperwork processed. Which means you could potentially not see any money for weeks to months.
Tenant’s may lack accountability - Another thing to keep in mind; Section 8 Tenants are not as financially invested in the home as their unsubsidized counterparts would be.
We are not suggesting that all Renters on housing assistance are going to wreck your home, but there are many stories of this happening.
Detailed government inspections - One of the largest complaints property Owners have about the Section 8 process, are the required inspections of the home.
In order for a property to be eligible for Section 8 vouchers, an inspector must pass it using a rigorous checklist.
These inspectors have been known to be extremely nit-picky and to fail homes for the smallest of flaws such as a spot of chipped paint on a window sill.
This can force owners to conduct extra work and spend money unnecessarily.
Tenant Responsibilities Under Section 8:
Section 8 Tenants are required to:
Pay the security deposit - Section 8 vouchers do not include the amount for a security deposit, therefore, the Tenant is solely responsible for providing this money to the Landlord.
Pay their portion of the rent - If the Tenant’s voucher doesn’t cover the entire rent amount, then they are responsible for paying the difference.
As long as your lease agreement allows for it, the Tenant is required to pay their portion on time every month. Failure to do so could result in the discontinuation of their housing assistance and gives you grounds for eviction.
Follow the lease agreement - Section 8 Tenants are expected to follow all rules set forth in the lease agreement.
They can be evicted for breaching any of the terms including not paying their portion of rent, damaging the property, participating in criminal activity, etc.
Note: As the Landlord, you are responsible for attaching the Tenancy Addendum, provided by the HUD, to your lease.
How to Become Section 8 Landlord Certified:
There are several steps that must be completed before you can begin accepting Tenants with Section 8 vouchers.
Advertise your available property at fair market rate. The first thing you need to do to start the process, is research the current fair market rent rates and price your property accordingly.
Screen Tenants - Once your property is listed, you or your agent can legally screen applicants for suitability as tenants.
You’ll need to submit a Request For Tenancy Approval Packet.
Pass Inspections - Once your request has been approved, you’ll have to pass a Housing Quality Inspection which will determine if your unit meets the minimum housing standards.
The property will have to undergo and pass annual inspections as well to maintain its Section 8 eligibility.
If you would like more information on becoming a Section 8 certified Landlord, visit the Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Agency’s website.