DC Housing Choice Voucher Program- any experience?

12 Replies

Hi all,

First time poster. I'm not a real estate investor, but my husband and I bought our condo in DC (Capitol Hill) a couple years ago and then moved long-distance so we decided to keep it and rent it out. First year was great- found tenants within days and have had no issues, but they are leaving DC and so we're looking for new tenants. One prospective tenant is a housing choice program participant. We are aware of DC laws regarding source of income discrimination and have no problem with being paid by the voucher program, but there's a lot we don't understand about the program and the implications of being involved.  Most of the information on the web seems to be for tenants rather than landlords, and so I would love to connect with any other landlord participant in the program that might be willing to help me understand a bit more. Any takers? Thanks.

@Shadonna N. how has the process been for you since using the program? We are nearing closing on a property and will be looking to that program for tenants. I am scheduled to take the Landlord briefing/seminar on Sept 29th. 

I had a tenant in the program for the past year. I had several issues with them: smoking in the unit with the smell disturbing the neighbors, additional people (3) living in the unit that were not on the lease, not communicating with me when there were water leaks or repairs needed, and they left it filthy when they moved out. I am allocating part of the security deposit for cleaning and trash removal.

Looking ahead, I will be much more rigorous about screening the tenants and enforcing my lease. 

Hi All, great to join this conversation. I have been a DC landlord for the past 30 years and participated in the Section 8 (HCVP) program for over 25 years as a landlord. Overall, the section 8 program can be wonderful if you do the following:

1. Take the time to understand how it works (attend the landlord briefings and monthly housing provider meetings)

2. Try to develop relationships with DCHA staff - this can save you so much aggravation if you have questions or if you run into a problem that needs to be resolved relatively quickly

3. Understand how to screen tenants - failure to thoroughly complete this step will result in a train wreck waiting to happen

4. Learn DC landlord tenant laws - I suggest spending a day down at the DC L&T court where you will hear all types of horror stories and cases of failed landlord tenant relationships. With this crash course and education, hopefully, you will learn from the mistakes of others (the best way to learn) rather than others learning from your mistakes!!

5. Register your unit with DHCD/RAD and DCRA this will save you so much headache if you run into a "professional tenant" that knows how the laws work and is adept at gaming the system to their benefit.

5. Develop policies and procedures on how to manage your rental business. 

Without going on forever, what I've just summarized is the tip of the iceberg. There is so much to learn.

The above suggestions are being made based on: (1) over 30 years experience, (2) after making many, many mistakes and, (3) learning from the school of hard knocks. In my humble opinion, It's completely unnecessary to recreate the wheel and repeat rookie mistakes. It's a waste of your time, energy, money, and sanity.

In short, I enjoy being a DC landlord (I'm not totally crazy!!) especially to voucher holders. I find it very rewarding that I can do good and do well. The demand is so great that I am always encouraging DC area investors to seriously consider this rental niche.

In closing, I've written a couple of Bigger Pockets article posts that describe my investing approach. Feel free to check them out. I am more than happy to help you if I can be of assistance. 

Regards,

Joe

We are about to have a voucher tenant placed in one of our rentals and have been relying on a placement/property management company to screen them. I’m your experience, is this a mistake? 

Originally posted by @Christopher Grobbel :

We are about to have a voucher tenant placed in one of our rentals and have been relying on a placement/property management company to screen them. I’m your experience, is this a mistake? 

 Whether it is a mistake or not really is beside the point. Source of income is a protected class in the District, so it is not something you can consider when placing a tenant.

Originally posted by @Christopher Grobbel :

Russell, people talk a lot about screening the voucher tenant. On what basis can you screen? Just the normal credit score, criminal history etc?

 Same exact screening that you use for any other tenant. Nothing about the screening should be different at all.  And you are using a PM company so Im sure they screen every exactly the same. 

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