The Pros and Cons of Renting to Section 8 Tenants?
With two opposing views, who’s right, who’s wrong, and what’s the difference?
There are a couple of Pros to Section 8 investing. But as you will quickly see the list of Pros is much shorter than the list of Cons.
First, if you rent to Section 8 tenants, you know you’re going to get your rent money. As a general rule, it’s going to come in like clock work. You’ll have your money each and every month, conveniently deposited into the bank account of your choice.
Second, if you advertise the fact that you accept Section 8 tenants, you will have no shortage of prospective tenants lining up with a housing voucher ready to move in on a moment’s notice. When tenants are hard to come by, say in a strong housing market, it’s an excellent way of guaranteeing a steady flow of renters willing to be your tenants.
Unfortunately, this is where the list of positives ends.
Section 8 tenants can present a host of challenges and problems to you from a variety of angles.
First, as a property owner, you may be lured by the easy money that renting to Section 8 tenants can generate, but if you think the Paperwork Reduction Act applies to Section 8, you have a lot to learn.
Whenever you deal with any government bureaucracy, there are massive paperwork considerations. If every I isn’t dotted and every T crossed on every form the government throws your way, you’re in jeopardy of not being paid, having your payment delayed or even worse being declared a slumlord.
We have also seen when all the paperwork and other delays can take anywhere from 3 to 5 months to complete. During this period your property sits empty with no income.
Second, Section 8 requires property inspections. In order to participate in Section 8 you first have to qualify as a property owner, which means an inspection. If the inspector finds deficiencies of any kind, they have to be corrected on the government’s timetable. Once you’ve met the timetable, you have to repeat the inspection process. When you’ve waded through all the red tape necessary to accept tenants, you really get into the heart of the problem of the Section 8 program dealing with tenants.
Third, there are Section 8 tenants who are attentive to your rules, but there are plenty of bad apples. If you have a troublesome renter one that can’t/won’t pay their rent on time or is a constant troublemaker, your inclination is to give them their walking papers (i.e., eviction). But if the individual you’re trying to evict is a Section 8 renter, you have to follow due process rules that are stricter than any state laws anywhere.
Once you’ve begun eviction proceedings, Section 8 tenants are entitled to free or very low cost legal assistance. Once an attorney enters the picture, this turns into an expensive, time consuming process. You need to ask yourself at what point does a guaranteed rent payment become not worth the hassle, the expense and the headache?
Fourth, we generally see that Section 8 pays about 70% to 80% per month of what you might get for normal tenant. So you need to make decision as to whether this discount is offset by the consistent payment source.
Fifth, Section 8 renters aren’t famous for taking care of your property. So unless you’re willing to entertain the thought of having to make extensive repairs with little hope of recovering damages it is probably in your best interest to not involve yourself in the program to begin with.
As you can see the Cons of Section 8 investing outweigh the Pros. Our experience is the program has many problems and we rarely recommend Section 8 investing.
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Mike Lautensack is a full-time real estate entrepreneur, coach and mentor in Philadelphia, PA and creator of the Private Lending Presentation Kit. This powerful done-for-you kit is loaded with tools and techniques to attract and develop a consistent stream of private investors into your real estate business. To learn more about this kit and receive your FREE eBook go to Real Estate Investing Blog