Whats wrong with Section 8?

23 Replies

Most people are worried about bad tenants - evictions or damage to property, and stick to higher value properties that have less of these kinds of risks.

@Rod Desinord there are those who love to know there rent is coming and those who HATE a tenant who pays for nothing in life and feels entitled to everything. There are good and bad experiences to anything in life, this not being different, but having politics to it as well.

Also, section 8 seems a great steady rent income but there is also a chance the next tenant may not be section 8..

I prefer not to have to deal with housing authorities or additional inspections myself.  Also feel like if they are not paying for the rent out of their own pocket then they will not take very good care of the home.

For the most part I have had good experiences with section 8.  I am careful to gauge the 'psychology' of the applicant.  Victim and blaming language are red flags. The worst kind are the bored ones sitting at home dreaming up things for you to do. Dreaming up things to complain about and dramatize.  They can be harder on property being home more than those that work.  Thicker files with annual financial determinations and inspections.  Guaranteed portion of their rent paid.  Pluses and minuses.  All things being equal, I would take a private party, but there's something to be said for feeling like you're helping the less fortunate.  Good discussion @Rod Desinord !

I'm not sure about other areas, but in St. Louis there is a waiting list for Section 8, so there's a large demand for it among possible tenants. Compounding that, if you evict a Section 8 tenant they lose their voucher permanently (at least here), so there's heavy incentive for them to work with you and be good tenants. And like others said, you know that rent is going to come in on time.

The horror stories exist for a reason, though. I've rented to numerous Section 8 tenants and they do tend to be a bit rougher on the property since they're not paying for it. The last Section 8 tenants I had destroyed the property. I'd guess that people villainize Section 8 tenants because it's easy to group them together since they all have that one thing in common, even if it's not entirely warranted. You could consider that the higher make ready costs are balanced by the reliability of their rent.

I like Section 8. If they damage the property, you can contact the Housing Department to let them know. When they move, they can't keep their voucher if they still owe money for rent or damages.

@Rod Desinord

That's a good question and actually, there is nothing wrong with the program itself in my estimation. The blame lies with a small fraction of the tenants. There are some excellent tenants within the program who fortunately/unfortunately are saddled with utilizing section 8 as a last resort.

I have multiple section 8 tenants and they are well respected by me, for keeping the place in excellent shape and paying their portion of the rent on time, even those who pay $0.00.

On the other hand, it's important to screen them as vigorously as you would any other non-section 8 tenant and not because they have a voucher, which will deposit all or a large portion of the rent in a timely fashion.

Yes, there are yearly inspections, but, I relish that as it ensures that my/your/other taxpayer's money which subsidizes the program is well spent and forces the landlord to keep the property in good working order not just at inspection time, but, throughout their occupancy of the property.

I think the pros/cons have been covered. 

Many, many years ago I bought a cheap condo as a rental and had a section 8 tenant.  She kept the place *very* clean and nicely decorated - much nicer than my own home.  For some reason, she was hesitant to call me about anything.  I would walk through, and something small (like say a thermostat) would be fixed or updated.  One time I noticed the HVAC blower was making noise and she didn't think it was bad enough to bother me about.  I had to *encourage* her to let me know when things needed attention!

I think one key to finding a tenant like this is to seek out someone who is GOING SOMEWHERE.  This young lady was going to college and had clear career goals.

I dislike Uncle Sam rewriting my lease. In 18yrs, I've never offered a full year's lease and I'm not giving up control so 'Sammy' can play PM.  In the early days of ownership, I had an insurance agent that wanted to play PM too - - told him to invest his money if he wanted in the game and promptly got another agent/company.

I think @Jeff Rabinowitz put it best with his last line (from another post).

Originally posted by @Jeff Rabinowitz:

When you accept Section 8 you are partnering with the Government. It is a very unequal partnership. The housing authority may violate their own policies and you will have little recourse. If there is ever a dispute you will lose. If you ever need to collect damages from a tenant you will be unlikely to. I believe there are two types of landlords: those who refuse Section 8 and those who will soon refuse Section 8.

I've had a sec 8 tenant that didn't pay a penny for rent and I almost had to evict on non payment of her $50 utility fee, she theatened tenants and had a warrant out in another county. She was clearly one of the bad cooks - a pro for sure. Many others in my building that are section 8 are completely fine. They keep to them selves, let me know when things need work, don't complain, and pay their portion of rent on time every time. I'm totally fine with it as long as you have good screening in place. 

I do agree with NA Beard about not liking uncle sam calling the shots. You do end up in a year long lease and it felt like so much extra work to get them out if needed. Over all, my biggest complaint would be the year long lease that's put in place. Sometimes, I'd prefer to have the option of not renewing a lease earlier than latter.

Section 8 has not treated me very well. The guaranteed rent is nice, but I've never really had trouble collecting rent from non-section 8 tenants anyhow. In my neck of the woods, the housing authority sends an inspector out to every section 8 property every year. Any time there was damage that the tenants did to my property (holes in the wall, broken locks, etc) the housing authority withheld rent until I fixed it. In my experience, the section 8 tenants didn't have to pay their own rent, so they didn't value the property, it was "free." I am sure there are great section 8 tenants out there, I just don't have the time or energy to weed them out.

I don't do section 8 as I only do month to month leases.   There is nothing worse than a bad tenant (even losing a month or 2 in rent).  I can non renew without eviction on any of my places if I get someone who's an issue.  Value= Priceless

@Rod Desinord   one of the draws to section 8 is that in many markets the section 8 eligibility for 100% section 8 is 10 to 30% higher than market rent.

so you can get 800 with section 8 but market rent might only be 675.. ETC

@Jay Hinrichs I think you can run into some real grey fair housing issues with that if you charge a sec 8 tenant $800 but a non sec 8 at $675, or am I wrong? I think as long as all units are are marketed at $800 you'll end up getting plenty of sec 8 applicants and few non sec 8 unless they really really want the unit.

@Steven J.   Nope does not work that way.. Sec 8 establish's their voucher values.

what you will find out in areas that are heavy to subsidized housing that market rents ( cash paying non section 8 ) will be lower.. has nothing to do with what your talking about

My only Section 8 tenant is a dream.  She is extremely grateful to both me and the Housing Authority for the program.  Her portion is occasionally late, but she always asks me (not notifies, not tells... asks ) if she can be late at least 3 or 4 days before it's about to happen and tells me what's going on to make her late.  

She has two children who live with her and the downstairs neighbor lodged a complaint with the HOA saying that they were noisy and unruly. My tenant was scared to death that I was going to evict her over it and was in tears for about a week prior to the hearing committee meeting with the HOA. The hearing ended up going fine and we were able to get the issue resolved, which made my tenant more thankful than ever.

I've found her to be reluctant to call for repairs and, the few times when she does, she likes to have her brother there when I am there and makes arrangements for her kids to be gone.  She never gives permission for me to be there unless all three of those conditions can be met.  I have a feeling she was very badly treated by a landlord at some point in her past.

She works hard and is pretty devoted to giving her kids a decent life.  She clearly does not like being in the situation she is in and I think tries hard to get out of it.  But poverty is a ****** thing and once you're in it, it's really hard to get out.

I like it here....I have numerous townhomes that are on it. Housing is easy to work with and if I don't like their rules I tell the prospective tenant to go find a house somewhere else. They usually go back to housing crying about their "injustice" or just fix it themselves to avoid hassle.  

      I had a tenant that wanted to move into a property that housing decided needed painting. I told her that I was not going to paint it...(because it did not need it, I don't care what some bureaucrat says), so I could not rent to her.   She herself hired a painting company to come paint it so she could rent it.  I suppose the extra money came from the fact that she was living in a $1100 a month rental and only had to pay $24.85 per month to live there.

      I find if I have a problem....I go to housing and start evictions and the threat of losing their free ride usually brings them right into line. 

     So far it's worked fine for me and I actually market to housing when it comes up because in most cases, they pay higher than actual market rents here.  I wouldn't dream of using housing if I had to take less rent.  NO WAY.....Around here if you can find them three comparables for renting at the same amount I'm asking they will accommodate me and that's the price that stays until I ask for another raise.  

    I like it up to this point.....been doing it for about 8 years now. 

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