Long time reader, first time poster. I have somewhat of a strange situation. I bought my 4-plex two years ago and when I did I inherited a tenant that was on a housing voucher, but not section 8 they say. Every month I would get a portion of the rent paid through the housing authority and they would pay the rest. They then applied for a change of income and stated they lost their job so now the housing authority pays 100% of the rent. My question is really 2 parts...
Since I inherited them I haven't increased the rent at all because I wasn't sure how it worked, and I still kind of don't. The housing authority that I get paid from is in a different county than mine (Worcestor county when they rent in Essex). Will that housing authority only pay the maximum fair market rent for their county, or would it be based off of my town? Because there is a difference of around $600 between those two places. And if I sent them an increase to rent form, would that mean that the tenant would be responsible for the other $600 or since the housing authority pays 100% then they would just start paying 100% of the new rent?
Has anyone been in a situation like this before? I'd rather not lose the tenant if possible, because he's a decent guy and it's guaranteed 100% every month, but I also don't want to be leaving thousands of dollars on the table every year.
Any help or suggestions would be greatly appreciated, and especially if you're in MA as I believe this is a state program as opposed to Section 8 which is federal.
Thank you all for your feedback.
Pat, I don’t own section 8 in Mass however I do get applications for vouchers that are offering less than my rent price so they don’t work out.
I’ve owned section 8 in Rhode Island before and there is a process to get the housing authority to up their voucher. That said there must be one for Massachusetts. I would just call the housing authority and inquire about it. They just made me provide them with a justification memo for the increased rent. Good luck
Hi @Patrick Coffey . You have to have signed a contract of some sort if you are getting paid. There are other voucher programs that are similar to SEC 8. Some flow through the SEC 8 office. Some process on their own. You have to be getting an annual inspection. Who calls you for that? If you really have no idea, I suggest asking the tenant for the name and contact info for their caseworker and contacting them.
Regarding the tenant's rent portion, if it is HUD backed all the vouchers will work virtually the same. The tenant is limited to spending 30% of their income on housing. The price of your rent does not drive this. If the HA is paying 100% of your rent, they will continue to do so no matter what the rent is. A rent increase almost never changes the portion the tenant pays, because they are already maxed out at their 30% based. Go ahead and ask for a rent increase!
Sometimes when a tenant "ports" from one HA to another, the receiving HA accepts them only if the porting HA will continue to cover the budget and reimburse them for the voucher. This depends on their current budget. I've never had payment come from a different HA though.
@Patrick Coffey Went through something similar in Dorchester / Boston area. Inherited a tenant back in August who was getting a housing subsidy from the Boston Housing Authority for 100% of their monthly rent. In this area, I had to give them two months notice before raising the rent, but all you'd do is submit an application form, **tenant must sign it** even though she's paying nothing out of pocket, submit, and then the direct deposit updates automatically. Pretty easy actually. You are also given a one sheet that outlines what fair market rent BHA will pay for in terms of 1 Bedroom, 2 Bedroom, 3 Bedroom, and 4 Bedroom apartments.
@Patrick Coffey One note of caution. Being a recipient of any form of public assistance is a protected class in Mass.
Be sure that you treat all tenants - voucher or not - exactly the same and you'll stay out of hot water.
To all in MA area:
Subsidized voucher tenants are great for income and majority of them are great people who look after the property and let others enjoy it peacefully too.
However, I heard that sometimes, someone who is not supposed to be living with the tenant, a boyfriend, girlfriend, just another relative, etc moves in with the tenant and starts creating trouble for other tenants and hence for the landlord too, by trashing the common area of the place.
If we were to get a new tenant applicant with subsidiezed voucher, do landlords have any option, to treat them like other applicants, and, check their Credit History, Rental History and how clean they kept their previous accommodation or any other item that can be legal grounds to keep looking for more suitable tenant or should just accept to rent them because they came with the HA voucher ?
MA is very difficult for landlords who make any mistake and happen to have a case in any Housing Court.
It could become very expensive situation, with sometimes, some attorneys for the tenants, enjoying a free ride, of course at the expense of the landlord's cash ultimtely; to keep on dragging the housing related situation in court, and dragging it to that attorney's maximum fees earning levels.
1. Would welcome practical guideline, apart from what it says on the web page of the HA and Sec 8 etc. - to avoid any likely problem with Fair Housing or other laws or regs, while trying to weed out wrong kind of tenants who might be actually breaking the rules of the HA sometimes. or it should not be attempted?
2. Another item, what happens if the HA stops paying rent for the tenant for some reason, when the tenant looses the HA assistance?
P S: Without the HA vouchers or Sec 8, many landlords would not stay in the business.
It is the driving force, helping the landlords get so many good and well paying tenants too!
If you have to raise the rent to fair market you should. Believe me if it is too high for the program they will let you know. If you don't know who to contact ask the tenant who he applied to to get 100% rent coverage. You should have a form from when they transferred the rent to you.
I also wondered when I read this if housing authority paying 100% now is a disincentive for the tenant to get a new above board job. My son commented the other day that his Worcester friends on this kind of program like to work under the table.