Los Angeles Section 8 Question

10 Replies

I recently purchased a duplex in Los Angeles. Its comprised of (2) separate 2 bedroom 1 bath houses. The tenant in the rear unit is an elderly woman who has been there for 17 years. She is currently on a section 8 voucher for an "SRO" unit, which is paying $649/month. The section 8 lease was renewed by the previous owner on Jan 1st, 2014 and expires at the end of this year. Since the unit is a 2 bed / 1 bath house and her voucher is only for an "SRO" unit, is there any way I can make a case to have Section 8 pay the 2/1 rate, or is there a way to get her out on a technicality since she is not on a 2 bedroom voucher? I really like her and she seems like a great tenant, however the market rent for the unit is between $1,250-1,350 which is even slightly less than what section 8 will pay for a 2 bedroom voucher. Can anyone chime in on this that has some experience or expertise dealing with LA rent control and section 8?

I think your odds are low:

- Section 8 pays on the bedroom count or the tenants voucher level (whichever is less).

- If she is approved for an "SRO" she cannot get a 2 bedroom.

I don't think there is an easy way out of the lease. Maybe you can offer her some money to relocate?

She has a tenant based voucher which moves with the tenant instead of a project based voucher that stays with the property. Likely she can't get into a 2br voucher since she is a single person. You might be stuck until the lease expires. One thing to check is the utility adjustment. In my area often if utilities are provided by the owner, the voucher amount can increase and it usually covers 1.5x the actual utility cost. Not a huge bump in rent, but every little bit may help this situation out.

Originally posted by @Steve L. :

- If she is approved for an "SRO" she cannot get a 2 bedroom.

^this. Shes not approved for a 2 bedroom unit so she shouldnt be living here. She has a social worker so maybe its worth having a conversation with them about this and having them approach section 8? I am going to have a conversation with her about offering her money to leave as well, but before I do I was looking for another way.

Originally posted by @Marshall Downs :
She has a tenant based voucher which moves with the tenant instead of a project based voucher that stays with the property. Likely she can't get into a 2br voucher since she is a single person. You might be stuck until the lease expires. One thing to check is the utility adjustment. In my area often if utilities are provided by the owner, the voucher amount can increase and it usually covers 1.5x the actual utility cost. Not a huge bump in rent, but every little bit may help this situation out.

So my other question is that because she can't get approved for a 2 bedroom voucher once the lease expires shouldn't I be able to give her notice to vacate since she's not supposed to be living in a 2 bedroom unit based solely on her voucher?

Vinny, sorry to say, but Section 8 allows you to rent their tenant a better property. If they have a studio voucher and you accept it for your 2 bedroom, they don't complain and you must continue renting.

The short answer is it's not really a "supposed to" with Sec. 8. She could be renting an 8 br mansion as long as the owner is willing to rent to her. The categories are for keeping someone with a 2 br voucher from renting smaller unit, protecting the dependents in the household. There is no tenant penalty for "renting up".

That being said, you should be fine to evict once the lease expires. It's your property and I believe every state affords the owner the option to evict without it having to do with non-pament of rent.

quick observation on @Marshall Downs last note. Los Angeles rent control does not let you evict without cause. Therefore you cannot just evict at the end of the lease.

However I believe you can decide at the end of the lease term to no longer accept Section 8 vouchers. Therefore you tenant would be given the option of staying and losing her voucher or leaving with her voucher. If she leaves I believe you would then be able to rent at market.

I'd appreciate hearing any lawyers or owners/managers of Section 8 properties in LA chime in on this.

Medium asg logo bAllan Glass, ASG Real Estate Inc ® | 213.973.8637 | http://www.asgreinc.com | Podcast Guest on Show #98

quick observation on @Marshall Downs last note. Los Angeles rent control does not let you evict without cause. Therefore you cannot just evict at the end of the lease.

@Allan Glass Are you sure that's true? I think we were chatting about this in another thread. I think as long as the tenant doesn't request in writing an extension of the lease, you have grounds to evict.

Look at #5 in the "Legal Reasons for Eviction" put out by the rent control board.

@Joshua McGinnis thanks for linking, however I believe point #5 addresses tenants who will not sign a formal lease extension agreement after the expiration of their lease term.

In other words, if the landlord formally (in writing) requests that a tenant sign a new lease extension under similar terms (this also means same rent or allowable increase), after expiration of the initial term, and the tenant refuses, landlord may use that as a cause for eviction.

This has nothing to do with a tenants request to stay. They have a right to stay unless the legal reasons you've linked to have been violated.

Medium asg logo bAllan Glass, ASG Real Estate Inc ® | 213.973.8637 | http://www.asgreinc.com | Podcast Guest on Show #98

@Joshua McGinnis

No tenant under market that understands rent control will let a place go over something like this. The lease will reflect the same rent, rules etc. You'd be beyond lucky to get someone out on this as under market tenants are typically in it for the long haul.

As long as the lease terms aren't violated and the rent check keeps coming in, that tenant cannot be evicted.

@Vinny Giglio This may turn out to be difficult. She knows she'll never find a 2 bed for that price, and she's protected by rent control (assuming this building is pre-1979). You'll likely have to cough up quite a bit of money to get her to consider leaving her comfortable 2 bed unit and looking for a (cheap) 1 bed.

You can request a rent increase from section 8 once the lease is up: http://www.hacla.org/owner-info/ however you'll be bound by the rent control increase amounts. (3% this year)