Section 8 tenant's lease is up, can I not renew the lease?

27 Replies

My section 8 tenant is a c-tenant, always pays rent late or failure to pay for a couple of months. His lease expired last November and I haven't renewed it because I've been thinking if I should. Here're my questions:

1. Does this lease automatically become month-to-month? 

2. Can I give him a 30 day notice to ask him to move out?

3. Do I need to contact HOA to terminate his lease?

4. He sent us a repair request but doesn't let us go into the house when we tried to schedule a time. He said he would ask for an emergency inspection from HOA first. Is this right?

Thanks for your answers in advance! 

The section 8 we deal with renews for one-year terms, with 60 day notice required if we don't want to renew. You need to contact the section 8 and find out what they require. Not sure what HOA deals with home repairs, so don't understand your question. If you say they are contacting Section 8 for an inspection, I do know there are issues that must be repaired in 24 hours, some within a month, depending on issue involved, but that was during the yearly Section 8 inspection. If they call Section 8 and you do not repair it in a timely manner, they can withhold rent depending on your contract with them, so you'd need to deal with them. But normally, my tenant just calls me and I get it repaired. Usually, your lease says you can enter with 24 or 48 hours notice, whether the tenant is there or not, so just schedule the repair based on proper notice according to your lease.

Lynn, thanks! These are really helpful! 

Usually we will go ahead to schedule a time to get the stuff repaired but this time, he just wanted to contact HOA for the inspection. I don't know why.

Is asking a tenant to move out when lease is up same as an eviction?  

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@Jade Wong  Most PHAs do not automatically renew leases in one year terms, though some do, so do check your paperwork or with your local PHA. Most just follow your lease terms, which usually indicate reverting to a month-to-month after the initial term, and allow you to stop renting to a tenant with proper legal notice for your area. Just make sure to also inform your PHA of any notice or the tenant leaving, or they will likely try to keep paying you for someone who's not living there anymore and then get very cranky when they figure it out. As for the tenant, not renewing a lease is not an eviction, provided they leave when their term is up, or after you give them appropriate notice. If they don't leave after your term/notice is up, then you'll have to go through the eviction process. 

As an aside, if a tenant isn't making repairs easy, they're not one I'd recommend keeping. You'll end up paying in the long run with the wear and tear on your rental. 

@Jade Wong , you should contact the Housing Authority and explain the situation with the tenant and the fact that he wont let you make the repairs that he requested. They won't contact the tenant but when the tenant calls them to complain you won't look like a bad landlord.

You can also contact the section 8 office and find out if you have an annual lease or month to month. Usually, the initial lease is an annual one then it automatically reverts to month to month unless you requested a new 1 year lease.

Your initial lease will tell you how much time you need to provide the tenant when ending a month to month lease. So check your lease or you can call section 8 and come to an agreement as to when the tenant should move out.

Just be careful trying to evict the tenant after he has filed a complaint about the apt because it could look like retaliation.

To terminate the lease,you need to contact section 8. Tenant will be issued a new housing voucher and can find a new apt. You do not need to evict the tenant.

FYI... if the tenant owes you rent, you should start the eviction process. In my area ( I assume its the same everywhere) if a tenant is evicted due to non payment of rent, they will automatically lose  their section 8 voucher. So that's a great incentive for them to pay  the money they owe you.

Read your lease, if you do nothing, most will convert to a month-to-month after the first year. If it isn't explicitly clear in the lease, then check your state laws. The lease should be in compliance with state law. You need to be proactive. Decide if you are going to enforce the terms of the lease and save the tenancy, or if you are going to give proper notice to terminate the agreement.

Call the public housing authority and ask to speak with his case manager, if he has one. Public housing authorities in different cities vary by how they administer the Section 8 program. If one of our Section 8 tenants pays rent late, we give the tenant legal notice to "pay rent or quit" and we send a copy to the case manager.  This is what we do when the tenant breaks any term of the rental agreement as well, with a legal "notice to comply". The case managers here do contact the tenant and do provide assistance in getting the tenant back on track.

You need to know the landlord tenant laws for your jurisdiction better than your tenants. Reread the contract requirements that you have with the public housing authority. Sounds like your tenant is trying to call the shots. You need to turn that around. Be swift, friendly, firm, and fair.

Do you do periodic inspections of your properties? You need to. Post legal notice to enter the dwelling to do a maintenance inspection. Then initiate repairs as needed to keep the property in good shape. If he doesn't let you in, serve him notice that he is violating the section of your rental agreement that allows entry and contact the PHA about this immediately, follow up phone calls with written letters.

Lastly, HOA commonly refers to Home Owners Association; perhaps you meant to say PHA Public Housing Authority?

Thank you so much guys for all these great advice! 

I've been trying to get hold of the Oakland House Authority (OHA) and left a voice mail but haven't heard them back yet. Let's see what they would say. 

Now there's another issue coming along. The tenant text me a message another day stated that he never seen the lease nor signed, it was me signed it for him which was totally a slander. He signed in front of my face and my family was there to witness. He's been unreasonable. I've had enough with this person. Any advice on this? 

I suggest that you document every thing in writing when dealing with SEC8. Email is my best method. They love their documentation! Also, make sure your lease states that all maintenance requests be in writing and that after they are submitted, you have the right to enter the premises and correct the problem without them being there after X number of attempts to contact.

@Jade Wong  Sounds like this tenant is absolutely looking to cause trouble. You can always remind the tenant that not only did they sign a lease with you (in front of you) but they also signed off on the Request for Tenancy Approval that was submitted to the PHA when they first moved in that they read, understood and would abide by the lease and rules of the program. Hopefully that will let you sidestep any (obviously false) claims that they didn't sign the lease and therefore don't need to abide by it. Good luck, let us know how it goes. 

@Jade Wong  Section 8 Leases (in San Diego) revert to month to month after the first 1 year lease renewal. If you read your lease it will spell out exactly how much notice your tenant needs to give you (30 days) but will probably not spell out how much time you need to give them, as was my case. 

I want to sell my unit so after a lot of discussion and searching found out that a landlord in California must give a section 8 tenant 90 days notice. You can look this up by going to ca.gov and looking in the tenant landlord handbook and also by looking up Ca civil code 1954.535.

In your case I would start eviction based on late payment of rent and you only need to give a 3 day notice for that. Just be very careful in everything you do because the housing authority will recommend legal aid, so just make sure you don't do anything that could be considered retaliatory.

Thanks again for all these tips. 

I've talked with housing and they said I still have to treat this case as an eviction even though the lease has been expired. @Bradley Bogdan  Great point, the people from housing said almost the same thing that they had to approve the lease before letting the tenant moving into the property as well as issuing the section 8 voucher. Did you hire an attorney to evict your tenant before sending the 90 days notice? 

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@Ron Drake  Thanks a lot! The last question was actually for you. Did you hire an attorney to evict your tenant before giving the 90 days notice? 

Also, I know in San Francisco, landlord would have to give relocation fee, not sure if this applies to Section 8 tenant in Oakland. 

@Jade Wong  I've actually never had to evict a Section 8 tenant in California (only NY state), but I'm usually working on the opposite side of the coin here in California, with the low income tenants, so I've seen my fair share. 

Oakland's PHA (along with SF and other big cities) has a fairly strict and regimented set of rules for things like evictions, rent increases, etc that smaller area PHAs are usually much more flexible about. I'm not well versed in Oakland housing rules, with my experience being primarily the North Coast counties, SF and the counties south into the Central Coast. I know generally in California, the length of time you must give a tenant notice (30 or 60 days) to end a month to month agreement is based on the amount of time they have been in residence there (more or less than 1 year). Many California PHAs use those same rules for the notice they require. I'm not very familiar with SD, perhaps their PHA uses a minimum 90 day notice, but that is not the case everywhere.

My personal opinion is that it sounds like they've been in residence long enough where they would be granted a 60 day notice period, so I would give them one pronto. You can also probably start the eviction process based on not allowing access to the apartment for repairs with appropriate notice (which I'm assuming is stipulated in your rental agreement) at the same time, if they're going to give you more trouble. 

Since you're uncomfortable with the current tenant situation, and the situation is more complex than just a normal tenant not paying rent, its probably worth your money and time to hire a professional service/lawyer to help with this eviction. If you follow what they do closely, you can likely use it as a learning experience and perhaps be able to do them yourself in the future, need be. 

Please let us know how it goes!

@Jade Wong  I served the 90 Day notice myself. You have to also give the housing specialist a copy of whatever notice you decide to serve. If you were to have an attorney help you with this, I recommend Kimball Tirey & St John. They have an office in San Francisco.

@Bradley Bogdan  since you are in California and may run into this in the future, I suggest you read this out of the California / Tenant Handbook at http://www.dca.ca.gov/publications/landlordbook/catenant.pdf

Suppose that you are a tenant who participates in the Section 8 housing voucher program. While the lease is in effect, the landlord must have good cause to terminate (end) the tenancy. Examples of good cause include serious or repeated violations of the lease, or criminal activity that threatens the health or safety of other residents.207 However, incidents of domestic violence may not be used as a violation by the victim or threatened victim as good cause for the landlord to terminate the tenancy, occupancy rights or assistance of the victim.208 The landlord must give the tenant a three-day or 30-day or 60-day notice of termination under California law (see pages 67–69), and both the landlord and the tenant must give the public housing agency a copy of the notice.209 What if the landlord simply decides not to renew the lease, or decides to terminate the HAP (housing assistance payment) contract? In this case, the landlord must give the tenant 90 days’ advance written notice of the termination date.210 If the tenant doesn’t move out by the end of the 90 days, the landlord must follow California law to evict the tenant.21

@Jade Wong  Did the tenants stop paying rent?  Not sure why you would treat this as an eviction?  Sounds like the tenant went south on you.  I've had similar issues with loose section 8 tenants in Fresno.  Having a good relationship with the housing authority has helped. You did mention you have been texting your tenant?  Probably not the best idea, send them clean and clear letters. 

Frank R

Frank Romine He didn't pay rent for straight three months earlier last year but we had a ok relationship back then so I let him pay off and move on, didn't even ask for a late fee. He then took advantage of me by continually paying rent late (mid of month) and causing troubles. I just don't want to deal with him anymore. 

Now, since the tenant said he's going to request an emergency inspection from the housing, instead of sending him a repair notice, shall I just wait for the housing to get back to me on anything that needed to be fixed in the house? The housing mentioned to me that they would send me a list of repair like a regular annual inspection if there's anything broken so I can get them fixed and follow up. 

@Jade Wong   In our experience most of our Sec8 clients are mentally challenged recovering alcoholics etc. There is always a reason why they are receiving public assistance as most of them really need it.  

       When they "act up" do not take it personal it is not worth it! Just act professional and 

like @Marcia Maynard   said, get an upper-hand of the situation. Here is how we do it: 

If they don't pay we file the first step in court (failure to pay) and they get a notice and panic and usually find some money to catch up their share of the rent, sometime from church state agency etc...

If they don't let us in for repairs we just e-mail the case worker and usually with in a week thing are back to "normal" .

As a side note: Did you know, If you have long term Section-8 tenants in your property, you are exempt from capital gain taxes when you sell it? I had already posted this info on BP with reference to the IRS article under the tax questions.

Originally posted by @Ron Drake :

@Jade Wong  I served the 90 Day notice myself. You have to also give the housing specialist a copy of whatever notice you decide to serve. If you were to have an attorney help you with this, I recommend Kimball Tirey & St John. They have an office in San Francisco.

@Bradley Bogdan since you are in California and may run into this in the future, I suggest you read this out of the California / Tenant Handbook at http://www.dca.ca.gov/publications/landlordbook/ca...

Suppose that you are a tenant who participates in the Section 8 housing voucher program. While the lease is in effect, the landlord must have good cause to terminate (end) the tenancy. Examples of good cause include serious or repeated violations of the lease, or criminal activity that threatens the health or safety of other residents.207 However, incidents of domestic violence may not be used as a violation by the victim or threatened victim as good cause for the landlord to terminate the tenancy, occupancy rights or assistance of the victim.208 The landlord must give the tenant a three-day or 30-day or 60-day notice of termination under California law (see pages 67–69), and both the landlord and the tenant must give the public housing agency a copy of the notice.209 What if the landlord simply decides not to renew the lease, or decides to terminate the HAP (housing assistance payment) contract? In this case, the landlord must give the tenant 90 days’ advance written notice of the termination date.210 If the tenant doesn’t move out by the end of the 90 days, the landlord must follow California law to evict the tenant.21

 Wow, I'm actually pretty surprised about that Ron, thank you for pointing this out. In my personal experience in placing well over 200 veterans with vouchers and continuing with them afterwards, as well as helping other social workers and PHA staff in the counties I mentioned, that's not been brought up to us by either PHAs or landlords as something to follow. Obviously its there in writing, so its the law, but I can very confidently tell you it isn't common practice in any of the places I've worked or worked with in the state. I'm actually even more surprised the PHA head up here in Humboldt County, where I'm located, hasn't held us/landlords to this, as he's a particularly "by the book" guy. The standard has been that to terminate a rental agreement for reasons other than violating the lease in some way, the landlord simply needs to adhere to the 30/60 day notice structure. Thanks for pointing out exactly where the verbiage is!

@Val Csontos  , you're right, it's not worth it. The reason why I gave him grace period for failure payment or late pay was because I believed that he's mentally challenged, unfortunately he never appreciated what I've done to him.

It's good to know that we're exempt from capital gain taxes. I will look up your other post regarding this. 

Thanks @Ron Drake   

What if the lease is not in effect like my case, it's already expired?  

@Jade Wong  I am attaching the article about the NO CAPITAL GAIN TAX for SEC 8 LANDLORDS. It is paste it on the bottom of my post directly from the IRS code docs;

        Also as far as your question about not having a renewed contract. If you have the "standard" agreement with your local housing office, your agreement will probably automatically was renewed IF you toke no action AND You passed or intend / will pass inspection. The "standard" contracts we were given by the HO office in the past 12-13 years were Federally written and approved by congress to be used in each local jurisdictions. 

Low-income housing. Low-income housing includes all the following types of residential rental property.

  • Federally assisted housing projects if the mortgage is insured under section 221(d)(3) or 236 of the National Housing Act or housing financed or assisted by direct loan or tax abatement under similar provisions of state or local laws.
  • Low-income rental housing for which a depreciation deduction for rehabilitation expenses was allowed.
  • Low-income rental housing held for occupancy by families or individuals eligible to receive subsidies under section 8 of the United States Housing Act of 1937, as amended, or under provisions of state or local laws that authorize similar subsidies for low-income families.
  • Housing financed or assisted by direct loan or insured under Title V of the Housing Act of 1949.

The applicable percentage for low-income housing is 100% minus 1% for each full month the property was held over 100 full months. If you have held low-income housing at least 16 years and 8 months, the percentage is zero and no ordinary income will result from its disposition

ps,: mentally ill people never show gratitude for kindness, so we help the mentally ill/ because it is the wright thing to do and we slip good at night. My mom had severe mental illness so have some insight into that area.

@Val Csontos  Thanks a lot! So does it mean that we will need to hold the low-income housing for at least 16 years and 8 months to be eligible for 0% tax? What if I hold it for only 5 years, do I get deductible?