terminating section 8 tenancy without good cause - CA

10 Replies

Hello,

If a 1 year lease signed in 2012 that has been month to month ever since 2013 is assumed by a new landlord for a section 8 tenant, can the month to month tenancy be terminated with a 90 day notice without good cause? Or does there always have to be good cause no matter what when terminating tenancy? I've come across conflicting information about this. The HUD agreement says tenancy in the INITIAL term can only be terminated due to good cause. Nothing about AFTER the initial term, so does this mean after initial term, good cause is not needed? What if the landlord simply does not want to accept section 8 vouchers anymore?

Also, I did read on the HUD agreement that raising the rent counts as "good cause". Does the landlord just decide they want to raise the rent, and if the tenant's voucher isn't enough for the owners desired rent, is this a reason for terminating tenancy? For example, if a unit rents for 1000, and the section 8 tenants voucher is for 1000, and the landlord decides they want to raise the rent to 1200, is this terms for terminating the tenancy? Or does the landlord have to apply with the HA first? And what if the increased rent request gets denied? Can the landlord still terminate tenancy?

And for terminating tenancy due to sale of the home, can the landlord give the section 8 tenant the notice to vacate before the house goes on the market? Because selling a house with a tenant is much harder than without a tenant. How would getting the tenant out of the house work in this situation?

Thanks, all help is appreciated

Section 8 is similar to any other lease in that after the initial term expires, you are free to terminate the lease, given sufficient notice. HUD sometimes requires additional notice than the state does, so check on that.

For increased rent, you have to send the tenant and HUD notice. HUD requires 2 rent periods to review it (which basically equates to 90 days so plan ahead), and if the new rate is not a fair rate for the market they may decline it. At which point you can back down and keep the rent within whatever HUD allows, or the tenant will have to move.

For terminating tenancy, if the initial term has expires and you are m2m, just give the required notice (ie it's 60 days in Oregon), and you'll then have a vacant home to sell.

These are HUD rules for Oregon, but probably are the same or very similar to California. Please double-check. There's a lot more relevant information about HUD/Section 8 in this blog, Should I be a Section 8 Landlord?

@Nathan Miller do you know where the HUD application comes into play? Do all section 8 landlords have to fill it out?

http://portal.hud.gov/hudportal/documents/huddoc?id=52641.pdf

For example in the application it says in order to terminate tenancy, there must be good cause. So if I am interpreting you correctly, I can terminate a lease without good cause after the initial lease, correct? What if I am buying a house with a section 8 tenant that has already received a 90 day notice to vacate? Does that roll over to me when we close escrow? I would assume it does because I am honoring the month to month tenancy that the current landlord and tenant are agreed apon, and the landlord gave them the 90 day vacate notice which must be honored. This is from the HUD application:

d. Other good cause for termination of tenancy 

(1) During the initial lease term, other good cause for termination of tenancy must be something the family did or failed to do. 

(2) During the initial lease term or during any extension term, other good cause may include: (a) Disturbance of neighbors, (b) Destruction of property, or (c) Living or housekeeping habits that cause damage to the unit or premises. 

(3) After the initial lease term, such good cause may include: (a) The tenant’s failure to accept the owner’s offer of a new lease or revision; (b) The owner’s desire to use the unit for personal or family use or for a purpose other than use as a residential rental unit; or (c) A business or economic reason for termination of the tenancy (such as sale of the property, renovation of the unit, the owner’s desire to rent the unit for a higher rent).

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Generally speaking, yes, all landlords are required to execute a HUD lease in addition to or in replacement of their own.

I still believe that since the term is up you are fine to terminate without cause. But it has been a while since I've been through the HUD documentation, and that link isn't loading right now. Do you have a copy of the prior landlord's vacate notice? And do you know if the tenants are planning on honoring it? If so, you just may let that happen so you aren't initiating any action yourself.

@Nathan Miller yes I am still waiting on the copy from the seller since we are still in escrow, but I will be getting the 90 day notice copy. It has also been sent to the case manager. As for the tenants honoring it, I haven't heard that they won't be, but I just have to wait and see. By the way, this is the important part of the HUD doc I was questioning about:

d. Other good cause for termination of tenancy 

(1) During the initial lease term, other good cause for termination of tenancy must be something the family did or failed to do. 

(2) During the initial lease term or during any extension term, other good cause may include: (a) Disturbance of neighbors, (b) Destruction of property, or (c) Living or housekeeping habits that cause damage to the unit or premises.

(3) After the initial lease term, such good cause may include: (a) The tenant’s failure to accept the owner’s offer of a new lease or revision; (b) The owner’s desire to use the unit for personal or family use or for a purpose other than use as a residential rental unit; or (c) A business or economic reason for termination of the tenancy (such as sale of the property, renovation of the unit, the owner’s desire to rent at a higher price

for bullet 3, since its after the initial lease, reasoning such as the fact that I no longer want to accept section 8 vouchers and no longer want to be a section 8 landlord qualify for bullet C (business/economic reason), right?

Oregon recently passed "The Housing Choice Act" which prevents landlords from denying an applicant based on if they qualify for HUD.  It basically made 100% of Oregon rentals HUD rentals.  Since Oregon often follows California's lead on items like this, I would look up to see if CA has anything similar on the law books before making a statement like that.  Even still, it sounds like it would be better to have a less risky exit reason.  It can be as simple as wanting to improve the property and you cant' improve it while somebody is living there.

@Nathan Miller what if it is something as simple as just wanting to raise the rent to higher than what the voucher affords or higher than the fair market rent that the housing authority determines? Because if I say I want to improve the house and I can't improve it with a tenant in there and force them out, by law wouldn't I have to let them back in after "improving" it?

I believe that's another perfectly acceptable solution and it's even outlined in section 3 of their documents. Just be careful not to raise it really high to eliminate the tenant, then list the property significantly cheaper right after they move out or it could be construed as discrimination against HUD.

I've never seen a Housing Authority lease other than annual.  Maybe in different states, but mine are yearly and renew on a yearly basis. The landlord cannot increase rent during that period and 3 months before expiration the HA sends a form to complete if you want to increase rent.

@Dawn Anastasi the property i am buying in california has a section 8 tenant living month to month and I am just assuming that lease. By any chance would you know if the 90 day notice to vacate given by the seller will roll over to me when escrow closes?

@Larry Hucks On page 7 of the HUD contract, it covers assignment of the HUD contract. The owner can't assign the contract without written permission from HUD, etc., and the new owner would have to supply them with information, blah blah.

You really need to contact the housing authority that governs that property.