Section 8 income requirements

8 Replies

I have a new rental that will be in service in a couple weeks, and ready for renters. I am going to try my hand at accepting section 8 tenants, which will be a new experience for me. In my other rentals, my income requirement has always been 3x rent.

In Pinellas county, the section 8 tenant pays 30% of their income toward their housing, regardless of the rental, and the housing authority pays the remainder.

My question is, how would you suggest I modify my income requirement fo this scenario? I would, of course, not alter my credit or background requirements, but the income portion has me tripped up a bit.

The majority of my section 8 tenants have employment.  Verify what they make and see if you're comfortable with their income.  

Section 8 tenants will generally score low when you check their credit. But it could be interesting to see what is on their record.

@Jason D. , my requirement is "income of at least 3 times rent OR suitable voucher / third party guarantee". When the applicant has an S8 voucher, that effectively takes the place of the income requirement for me, as it is not uncommon for the Housing Authority (at least in my area) to adjust what they pay versus the tenant share throughout the tenancy as the family income picture changes for better or worse. If the person gets a raise / works more hours or better job the tenant share increases, but if they lose their job or suffer some other financial setback, it goes down and HA/S8 covers the difference (again, that is how it works in my area) - confirm this for your city. I've had tenants go from paying 3/4th of the rent at lease start down to nothing with S8 then paying 100%.

Since I know S8 will pay the entire rent if needed, I'm really not concerned with income (assuming they don't ever lose their voucher), as the HA determines affordability of the rental for the family before approving. I care far more about length and type of employment, as certain jobs and time on the job may show the person is able to conduct themselves in a manner that makes conflict with me less likely. I care about how they communicate by phone, email and in-person, as communication is key to good landlord / tenant outcome. I care how well they follow directions (I test this in many different ways). I'm also not really concerned about credit score, as most person's with vouchers will also have credit challenges. But if ever evicted it is an automatic denial, as is recent criminal activity.

J.T.

I agree with @Brian Ploszay , as more important than credit score is what and why. I'm more concerned about a $50 phone or cable bill collection, than I am about a $5,000 student loan or medical bill, as it tells me the person will allow a low dollar obligation to cause more problems and late fees, etc... instead of just paying it to avoid the trouble.

J.T.

@Jason D. make sure that the tenant has 3X the rent available to pay the 30% that they will be responsible for. In addition, you will want to really examine their situation. Some section 8 tenants will have that voucher for life, and as long as they are decent, will make an ideal tenant. Some section 8 tenants have the voucher just for a time while they are re-educating or getting a new job. These are the ones you have to think carefully about. 

I have had to evict one section 8 tenant so far. She went to college to get a degree, got a good job, and then never paid another dime of rent. She was inherited, so it is what it is, but our property management company told us she had been evicted before. 

Keep in mind that if there is ever a issue with their welfare you will not be able to collect. Maintain a 3X income standard but do not count on receiving the tenants portion when renting to S8. No rental income is ever guaranteed. If they get cut off welfare you lose.

@Jason D. - I have a lot of experience with SEC 8 and we require a tenant have income of at least 1 times the rent and have a voucher of the same # of bedrooms as our property or greater.  If they have less income or a voucher with lower bedrooms, they will not get approved for ou rent.