Depending on your location, you may be considering renting your unit to Section 8 tenants. In some areas, you may be required to consider them. Either way, there are some important things to be aware of when accepting and reviewing Section 8 applications.
First of all: what does Section 8 mean? The Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher Program (HCVP) is a government program intended to aid people with very low or no income in order to help them find and keep stable housing. This may apply to people with disabilities, the elderly, or people with very low income for a variety of reasons. Eligible tenants qualify to have up to 75% of their rent covered, while they’re responsible for the remainder. As you can imagine, the program and the tenants are subject to a great deal of debate. The Fair Housing Act (FHA) doesn’t stipulate that landlords must allow Section 8 tenants, but some local governments due. It’s best to check your local requirements.
Becoming Section 8 approved housing is a time-consuming process that’s subject to regulation (such as rent control), so it’s very important to understand the laws in your area. If you must consider Section 8 tenants, you will have to go through the approval process (which requires initial and yearly inspections, paperwork, and more) if you accept any, so it’s a good idea to consider starting the process early. If you’re not required to consider them but would like to do so anyway, you should go ahead and begin the process as soon as you can.
Why should you consider Section 8 tenants?
You’re probably not surprised to hear that they carry a wide variety of stereotypes, but it’s important to remember that while any group has its bad apples, stereotypes are not broadly applicable. Opening your property to HCVP recipients offers you guaranteed rent (as you’re receiving at least a portion from the government) and often a long-term tenant. It’s difficult to find stable housing as a low income tenant, so once they’ve found a place, they often like to stay as long as possible. While Section 8 housing doesn’t allow you to set rent at whatever you like, it is a steady source of income, which is beneficial if you have trouble filling units.
If you decide that you do want to consider this tenant pool, you may treat them as any other tenant — you don’t have to accept them just because they apply. Screening and tenant verification service can go a long way toward helping you determine if potential tenants have a history of eviction or criminal behavior. For this reason, it’s wise to invest in a screening service.
If you’ve found this post helpful and would like additional advice or tenant help, we also offer a number of screening packages for new and experienced landlords. Depending on your needs and number of rentable units, we may need to perform an on-site inspection to confirm a separate home office, locking file cabinet for properly storing applicants’ report information, and an acceptance of terms of 25-page agreement for service. These packages will offer you all the peace of mind you need, whether you opt for a mini or full credit check for your tenants.
Additionally, our RentalConnect program offers property owners and landlords a great alternative to tenant screening. Available 24/7, RentalConnect is fast, easy, secure, and delivers reports needed to make an informed decision, including a credit report, a national criminal search, and a national eviction search. This service requires no on-site visit, sign-up, or membership fees, making it extra convenient. The $29.95 service fee is paid by the applicant. For more information, please contact us anytime!
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