Can I refuse to accept section 8 from a current tenant applying for it?

13 Replies

I don't know how far she's gotten, but a current tenant I inherited with the purchase, that I'd love to get rid of (loud family with 4 kids under 12), asked me "do you accept section 8 vouchers?". I said no, but I recalled that you cannot refuse a tenant based solely on vouchers. But this is different as they're already in residence. What are my rights/options?

For that matter, what applicant with a voucher could you not turn down for the typical crappy financials you'd expect of such a person? Is that the "out" for landlords to be able to stay away from section 8?

No you cannot be forced to go thru the section 8 process, and from the sound of it you should stay away from vouchers completely.

@Johann Jells

You are probably stuck with the tenant until the end of the lease term. When you buy a property, you are obligated to fulfill the terms of the leases currently in place. Hopefully that lease term is soon or they are already on month to month.

Don't do anything to get rid of the section 8 money until the tenant is actually out of the apartment. Just because you've told them to leave doesn't mean they will. You may as well get paid until the end.

Going forward you can easily make your standard, legal lease section 8 non-compliant.

It is state specific. In Oregon they just passed a law that requires us to accept applications, but we can still use a criteria and qualify them just as we would anyone else.

@Johann Jells - You need to check with your state / city. In Chicago it is now illegal to deny a Section 8 tenant. But you can set up requirements (income 3 x rent. Min credit of X) and as long as you can show that is how you qualify all tenants then you can deny them based on your requirements.

Is that section 8 rent for the unit mix below market, average market, or above market ?

If above market there is a benefit to riding it out. If they are below market and you have other tenants units connected to them you might want them out.

One thing that is often overlooked on inherited tenants is how long they have been there. If you get them out but they have been there forever and worn out that unit you will have very heavy make ready costs in the thousands. So even if you get increased rents it could take years to get it back to break even versus a unit needing 200 to 400 to spruce up and it's ready to rent again.

Make sure the voucher is covering ALL the rent. If it isn't good luck on collecting the difference with the tenant. Section 8 constantly analyzes the income of the tenant. If something changes when they meet their case worker then section 8 wants to reduce the rent subsidy. The tenant then feels they get penalized for working as each hour worked money is taken away from them when they can sit on their butts at home and do nothing. It's a vicious cycle that is hard to break for these tenants and help get back on their feet.

If they were causing problems with other tenants and rent isn't super high I would get them out. You can find I am sure a provision in the lease they are violating to get them out. Make sure you rehab your unit fast to re-rent especially in a lower income area so it doesn't get vandalized causing massive repairs.

No legal advice.

By federal law section 8 is optional for the landlord. Chicago is actually breaking federal law if they require it to be accepted. There are several activist type markets in the U.S. that I would recomend not investing in or exiting at first opportunity.

@Mitch Dowler Chicago had it added to the protected class list so it is now a Fair Housing Violation. Insane

Hmm some contradictory info coming re compulsion.

If I wanted section 8, in their "fair market" table the rent for a 4 bedroom is far above what the tenant is paying. But I don't, another unit when I bought was S8 and it was a PITA just for the 9 months till that pro tenant was out. She called Housing Inspectors on me because she was indignant that I wouldn't keep the heat at 80 deg that cost the seller a fortune and allowed her to wear shorts and a tank in February.

Adddtionally this a rapidly gentrifying area, I gotta do my part to bring in the people who will raise values, not retain the people who will keep them down.

Seems there's a case in NY where a judge ruled that the feds NOT requiring you to take it does not preclude the state from requiring you. And NJ is one of the state that does require acceptance. Time to lawyer up if they actually get the voucher.

"Tapia v. Successful Management"

You are in NJ where you cannot discriminate based on source of income, and a Section 8 voucher is considered a source of income.

As @Aaron Montague has mentioned, you are in an existing lease with this tenant so you are kind of stuck. One thing that happens in some Housing Authorities is that they want some of their lease paperwork to be used - you might want to look into that and see if there is some angle there to work in your favor. After all, that would be the tenant trying to change lease terms in mid-lease, and you might not have to agree with that.

deny based on lack of income. End of story

I allow section 8 and I've been lucky so far with my section 8 tenants. If this is something you do not want, then can deny renting to a section 8 tenant based on your standard selection criteria.

or better yet, let the apt fail the section 8 inspection which in my area is very thorough. This way, your are out with no possible legal recourse against you. The inspection will fail for serious items like dead battery in a smoke detector or trivial items like missing 1 screw on a outlet or switch cover plate.

Faill the inspection and they will advise the tenant to move out! No one can come after you then!

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