8 Myths About Section 8, Corrected: Here’s the Profitable Truth

by | BiggerPockets.com

Did you know that there are grants that can help real estate investors with the acquisition of investment property?

Did you know there are programs that will pay above market rent for your investment property?

Sure, you do—but there are so many misconception about using government funds, they may be deterring you from maximizing your investments.

There are numerous government sources to assist you in your real estate endeavors: to name a few, there’s the HOME Investment Partnership Program, local and federal block grants, and the Housing and Urban Development.

The governmental assistance program that is most well known is Section 8. Immediately when you think of Section 8 housing what comes to mind might be slums, ghettos, unemployment, substance abuse, and dysfunctional families. This may not be the perception of some, but many do believe this.

The association between the above descriptions and Section 8 is so strong that these images immediately come to mind when thinking of government assistance. I would like to inform you that the majority of the time, it is not the individuals on government assistance that diminish a community, but the investor, the property managers, and the slumlord.

This article is to inform investors about some of the commonly believed misconceptions about Section 8 housing that are causing you to lose thousands of dollars and diminish your returns.

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8 Common Misconceptions About Section 8, Corrected

1. All section 8 recipients are terrible tenants.

This is the biggest fallacy. Although there are many Section 8 recipients that are bad tenants, the majority of the tenants are cooperative with the rules given from the landlord. Section 8 tenants must abide by the lease set forth by the landlord, and if they are not abiding by the lease, there are two courses of action that can be taken versus just one in a traditional rental.

Related: How to Profit Big & Help Those in Need by Renting to Section 8 Tenants

According to Section 8 rules and regulations, if a tenant is not adhering to the lease, you can contact the tenant’s Section 8 social worker. The worker will inform the tenant that if they do not abide by the lease, they can lose the section 8 voucher. Normally in this case, the tenant immediately complies with the lease. The loss of the voucher will result in them paying 100% of the rent versus the difference between the voucher amount and the rent. So this is a big plus because it minimizes the likelihood of evictions.

tenant-screening

2. The landlord has to accept anyone.

This is not the case; actually, there is another layer of protection similar to lease compliance. The tenants are heavily screened by the Section 8 workers prior to them being awarded the voucher; they cannot have an extensive criminal background or issues of substance abuse, and only the voucher recipient and those named on the voucher can have tenancy in the property. Once the recipient is awarded the voucher, they still can be screened by the landlord. If the individual does not meet your requirements, you do not have to rent the property to them.

3. Tenant turnover is high.

I have found this perception to be incorrect as well; there are only a few reasons tenants move — they purchase a home, they find something better or more affordable, a family member moves from the neighborhood, they need to downsize, or they have problems with the landlord. The majority of the time, these are the five reasons a tenant voluntarily moves. In most cases those awarded section 8 have kids, and kids have to go to school, and the kids make friends at school, so they become attached to the neighborhood. This limits the family’s ability to continuously move.

4. The rent is inconsistent.

Investors love to talk money, and with Section 8 tenants, you can get a premium for your property. The biggest complaint everyone states about the government is the fiscal policies and how out of touch the bureaucrats are. You are exactly right; the government pays a premium for everything. So why not have them pay the premium for your rental?

In most cases Section 8 is willing to pay above the market rent depending on the area. For example I have a small 3-bed, 1-bath SFR, and the market rent is $850. Section 8 is willing to pay a minimum of $1150, and that increases my cap rate on my investment. Again, not only will there be a increase in rental payment, but there will be extra layers of protection per Section 8 policies.

5. It is difficult to get your property approved.

This may not be so in every city, but the process to get a property Section 8 approved is simple — the property must not have evidence of mold, heat or running water, and it must be in livable condition. Sounds simple enough, right?

There is a check done on the landlord to ensure that there is not a criminal history of theft, drugs, or abuse of any kind. This process is easy, and as long as your property meets county/city code, your home will qualify.

rental-property-pros

6. Section 8 housing is only in low income neighborhoods.

There was an article in Crain’s Chicago Business by Alby Gallun called “Poor Families Use ‘Supervouchers’ to Rent in City’s Priciest Buildings.” This article disproves that notion that Section 8 is only for blighted areas of your city. One individual in the article was paying $3,000 a month for a one-bedroom apartment at 500 N. Lake Shore Drive (yes, if you know Chicago, that’s not too far from the Gold Coast & Mag Mile). I’m pointing this out to say: not all families or rental units that are Section 8 approved have to be in the worst neighborhoods in America.

Related: 5 Reasons Why You Should Rent To Section 8 Tenants

7. My property will be destroyed.

Again, with the extra layer of protection, it helps if your tenant does damage to the property. In the event the tenant does damage to the property, you can notify the tenant’s worker, and Section 8 will pay for the damages, and the tenant has to reimburse the worker.

The tenant can lose the voucher if they destroy the property and do not pay. So this is a benefit to the landlord to ensure the property is maintained. This extra layer of protection limits the possibility of litigation and losses due to damages. As with any rental, you should conduct a walk through with the tenant and document any defects. 

8. The rent will not be on time.

This happens to be one of the best benefits: not only do you receive higher than market rent, but your payment will come directly from those that administer the program. The rental payment will come on time and without fail.

These are the 8 misconceptions about dealing with Section 8 Tenants and the program. Although I have outlined the benefits, there are always downsides when dealing with people. I have been fortunate to have a wonderful experience with Section 8, but I have heard some of the horror stories as well. Remember, you are the landlord, and your tenants can only do what you allow.

[Editor’s Note: We are republishing this article to help out our newer readers.]

Please feel free to chime in with your experiences dealing with government programs in your real estate investing career.

Leave me a comment below, and let’s discuss!

About Author

Marcus Maloney

Marcus Maloney G+ is the Executive Officer of Equity Realty & Investments as well as 3rd Generation Management & Holding LLC, both are family owned and operated real estate investment firms. The firms' goal is to provide affordable solutions in real estate while providing exceptional opportunities for community redevelopment for the residents of Phoenix, Arizona and Chicago, Illinois. You can follow Marcus on Twitter

68 Comments

    • Marcus Maloney

      Whitney,

      When all else fails I use Section 8 as an exit strategy on some properties that I have in either rural or less than desirable areas. I have had good experiences but I do need to knock on wood not to jinx myself.

      “Enjoying the Journey”

  1. Great article. I have a question to see if anyone has any experience on a bad section 8 tenant. 2 year tenant in a 4 bedroom house. Tenant paid zero. My contractor came to the home to fix a damaged floor caused by the window AC unit the tenant installed improperly. Tenants 20 year old son physically threatened my contractor if he didn’t leave the property. I contacted section 8, gave my tenant 30 days notice to leave and filed landlord complaint with court. Had to evict since would not leave voluntarily. Section 8 told me via email they would lose voucher. Did over$4000 in damage above security deposit. Found out last week, 4 months after they were evicted, they still have their voucher at another location. Found out after they moved they were dealing heroin and occupants have criminal drug records. Have pictures of drug items left in home. 5 year old child in home. All this info was sent to section 8. Question: Why didn’t they lose voucher? Any thing I can do to bring this to the attention above my local section 8 office? Should I pursue trying to get them off program? Anyone with any experience of section 8 not kicking violators off the program?

    • Marcus Maloney

      Kevin,

      Sorry to hear about your experience, there are some bad tenants as stated in the article. I would suggest you go higher up the chain at the section 8 office, I heard (not confirmed) that a worker can be reprimanded for allowing a tenant to retain their voucher if due cause is evident. I have heard of such instances of the tenant not losing their voucher, but the tenant’s name being placed on a probationary list first prior to losing the voucher. So you can check to confirm if that occurred, but again it is not consistent from state to state and county to county.

      I would definitely send a letter to the current landlord informing them of your experience. Good luck hope I’ve helped

      “Enjoying the Journey”

    • Andrea D. Suchy-Shinn on

      I’m surprised section 8 didn’t cancel their voucher when you notified them of the drug problems. Maybe they have to have a police complaint.

      I live in St. Paul. I had a section 8 tenant let her nephew move in. He was dealing. The SWAT team broke down doors to my house, arrested him running out. He was found with evidence of dealing.

      The city notified me by mail to remedy the situation or they would take possession of my property. They also told me they could help me evict her if I needed them.

      I evicted her without incident. She attempted to appeal the loss of her voucher. The case worker asked me if I was sure she had drugs on the premises. I gave her the case number. I’m not sure if she lost her voucher.

      I know section 8 sends out flyers to landlords asking for our help if someone is abusing the program. There are so many people on the wait list they don’t want the vouchers go to the abusers.

      I know I can look up the entire section 8 staff on the web for my county. Maybe you should send the case worker’s supervisor an email? I would let the section 8 office know of the problems and in writing. It doesn’t reflect well on the program and other good people that need the help can’t get it.

      By the way, I still rent to section 8 tenants. Not all of my properties because section 8 won’t pay the going rent in my higher demand areas. I have 3 units one with a hard working waitress with 3 kids, another a disabled grandmother and another a young couple with 3 kids one is special needs.

      It’s in our business plan to always have some lower income units. It’s a value we’ve decided is important.

    • Milly Roblero

      Wow, I am on Section eight in Delaware state and had thirty days to get out of my rental because repairs were not made from an annual inspection, little things like a bush touching the house steps weren’t repainted on from and back deck areas. Had I not left in the thirty days I would have lost my voucher. Tenant’s like that give the misconception that all Section eight recipients are disrespectful when caring for the rental. If you do not follow through with the issue they will be left to do the same thing over and over to multiple unsuspecting Landlords, I believe it’s at least worthy of a few phone calls. I am sorry this happened to you.

      • Milly Roblero

        Btw, didn’t want you to think that I wouldn’t have made the repairs myself especially since they were so minor but the landlord wouldn’t give me permission and I never do any type of repairs or upkeep projects without permission from the owner. Turns out he was in foreclosure and wanted me out A.S.A.P and with this loophole was able to effectively cut my sixty day notice to thirty days.

    • Marcus Maloney

      Greg,

      Greg,

      No, you can not discriminate and charge a higher rent for S8 tenants but they can pay the highest amount of the market value. So if the rent in your area is between 650-900 you can charge 900 for your rental. In the area where my rentals are the S8 office has a property board and I market the properties their prior to I advertise to the general public. If it then goes to the general public I will ensure the rent is within that avg range.

      Hope this answer your question.

      “Enjoying the Journey”

      • Susan Maneck

        I haven’t found this to be the case, Marcus. I once agreed to rent my 4bdrm out to someone with a 3bdrm voucher because I knew the Fair Market Rent for a 3bdrm in my county was $950 as calculated by HUD itself. Turned out they would only give me $873. This was a real nice house which had been my principle residence for ten years and I had done lots of upgrades to it. Later on I rented out a 3bdrm out on the same street, not nearly as nice, but I asked for the same $873. They gave me $868 which was fine, but no way was there only $5 difference in the quality of those two houses! I would say that the only time I got more than the Fair Market Value on Section 8 is when I rented a house in a declining neighborhood to a disabled couple and their son. Because I built a ramp for them HUD gave me 10% over the FMV. I would not say that HUD normally pays more than the fair market value, in some ways I think they set the fair market value in my community.
        As for tenants, my experience is that Section 8 tenants have more problems, but that doesn’t mean it creates more problems for the landlord. They are more likely to stay longer, not leave sooner. That is especially true with my handicapped tenants. My biggest problem with renting Section 8 is not the rent, but the amount of time that is tied up in waiting for the inspection, etc. I can get a non-Section 8 tenant in a lot quicker. But if someone shows up ready with a voucher, I’m likely to take it.

  2. Quincy Adams

    Good article, I oversee the management of 900 Section 42 units with a mix of nearly 100 of those being section 8 recipients. I would agree that the tenants are good, especially because they do get screened by the Housing Authority, and its great to get the automatic deposit into our accounts each month and not have to worry if the check is going to clear.
    I’ve never had the experience of having Sec 8 coming in and paying for the damages as you mentioned, I’ll have to try that.
    I would add that an additional tip would be to create a great relationship with the Section 8 administrator at the Housing Authority. We have built up a good enough reputation that they send us all their tenants and we currently hold around 70% of all the voucher holders in our county.

  3. Curtis Bidwell

    Marcus, Thanks for giving some balance to the discussion on S8! I have had S8 for many years and overall had good experiences (and I can share some great war-stories as well!). However, our local area will not reimburse the landlord for damages. We can charge a full deposit from the tenant and report the damage done, but they will no longer be involved with restitution.

    I sometimes increase the deposit depending on the situation, and S8 will allow for that as long as it within reason. I simply let them know, “the higher the risk, the higher the cost.” I have to be covered for taking on higher risk circumstances.

  4. I had 3 S8 tenants (one just moved out because he can no longer live alone and he had a 1 BR apt). I was only getting $436 for his 1BR apt and yet for the 1BR apt right next to his I’m getting $525. I just talked to the local HUD office today who says square footage doesn’t matter so I can’t explain the difference. I didn’t confront them over the phone about it. I’m saving that for another day. I asked what the rent amount is for a 3BR and was told $974 but that includes both rent and utilities so after taking out water/garbage/electric it would be about $700 for rent. I could probably get slightly more with a non-HUD tenant and I know I can get more than $436 for a 1BR with a non-HUD tenant. So the ‘higher rent’ argument is hit and miss.

  5. Alexander Merritt

    This is a nice article but I don’t agree with a lot of your points. You stated “I would like to inform you that the majority of the time, it is not the individuals on government assistance that diminish a community, but the investor, the property managers, and the slumlord.” I strongly disagree with that statement and here’s why:

    #1. All Section 8 Recipients Are Terrible Tenants
    This is, of course, not true. However, a lot of Section 8 tenants are, in fact, terrible tenants. Usually the reason they are on Section 8 is because they don’t have a sufficient education or skills to get a decent paying job. They know they are getting government assistance and so they don’t have to pay much for rent. So, if they are not paying much they aren’t likely to care about the property and rules of the lease. I do think this is indicative of location where Section 8 tenants in lower income areas are more likely to be bad tenants.

    #6. Section 8 Housing is Only in Low Income Neighborhoods

    7. My Property Will Be Destroyed
    A simple YouTube search for Section 8 damange results in several videos.
    Here’s one example: http://youtu.be/ovtinAAqb_Y

    8. The Rent Will Not Be on Time
    You didn’t mention anything about that Section 8 is housing *Assistance* and not government funded housing. The tenant is still responsible for paying a portion of the rent and can still miss payments thus forcing an eviction.

    I understand that a lot of Section 8 tenants are perfectly fine tenants. But, there are also a lot of Section 8 tenants who just don’t care about your property, the neighborhood, or even being evicted.

    • Susan Maneck

      I have to disagree with you strongly about this. HUD vouchers are hard to get and most tenants waited years to get them. The last thing they want to do is lose it. I have never had to evict a HUD tenant. I have never had one trash my property. They are better at paying their meager share of the rent on time than my other tenants. I’ve had other problems with these tenants but not because they weren’t paying the rent on time or adhering to the terms of the lease.

  6. Bill Henderson on

    My town has 15% of the county section 8 voucher. Another town in the same county has 42%. My town is trying to establish an ordinance that no more section 8 vouchers allowed. Have you ever heard of this happening? It seems illegal. If HUD was involved can they direct the voucher holders to different areas and tell them not to live in certain towns? Thanks

  7. Sharon Tzib

    My experience with S8 in Indianapolis was 50/50. I could not get a premium rent (but it was market), and I found the inspection phase very annoying – they were quite nit picky over aesthetic items, not just major systems and health/hazard issues. However, the tenant was great, took good care of the home, and both her check and S8’s portion came right on time, just like clockwork, every month. I too was allowed to charge a higher security deposit for the risk I was taking on, but it ended well and she got most of it back.

    Overall, I would not hesitate to do S8 again, especially if I could find an area where they offer premium rents. As you said, most of these tenants do not want to get booted out of the program, so they have a vested interest in following the rules.

  8. I will no longer accept Section 8 vouchers for my rentals in Richmond, Indiana due to unethical behavior by their Housing Director. I spent nearly $1000 to address all the items in their pre-rental inspection list. Then, one month after the tenant moved in, she decided she wanted to move to another place that was owned by the Housing Authority. Since the Housing Authority had many vacancies, they wanted me to let her out of her 12 month lease. I explained to them that I could not afford to do that, having just spent so much money with the knowledge that I would be assured of getting rent in full for the next 12 months. The next day, they sent their inspector out again and gave us a 2 page list of “violations”. We addressed all of them, then they sent out the inspector the next week to give us another list of “violations”. At that point, we told the Housing Director to get all Section 8 tenants out of our houses as soon as their leases were up because we don’t do business with unethical people.

    I will rent to Section 8 tenants in other towns, but not in Richmond, Indiana. I would encourage anyone considering Section 8 to investigate the experiences of local landlords before jumping in. Also, keep in mind that tenants who do not have jobs have a lot of time on their hands to create drama. I only rent to people who have jobs, therefore Section 8 only pays a portion of their rent. They are great tenants who appreciate the federal help staying afloat. I want hard-working people who don’t have time to watch and emulate the Jerry Springer show. lol

  9. Alex Craig

    It must be a market by market experience with section 8. I will not put any section 8 tenants in my homes as the approval process is long and never passes on the 1st try. I believe some of the inspectors try to fail landlords as a show of their power. We only do section 8 in C class for our investors, I have seen to many go bad. The tenant themselves seems to have a entitlement that tenants who pay their own way do not have. My worst tenant stories are section 8. We actually have much better experiences with our Little Rock portfolio of section 8, then our Memphis portfolio.

  10. Jeff Rabinowitz

    I will never accept Sec 8 again. I had some difficulties with tenants but the greater difficulties were with social workers who were extremely difficult to contact and who were not helpful when they were contacted. The housing authorities increased the amount of rent the tenants were responsible for (decreased the amount of the voucher) frequently though I was expected to honor my leases for the full duration. Partnering with the State puts the landlord in an extremely unequal relationship.

  11. IN TOLEDO I HAVE 17 RENTAL DID SEC8 ,SEEMED TO BE A NIGHTMARE,FIRST LETS BE HONEST
    NO MOLD,HEAT WATER,YOUR IN NO WAY THERE IN YOUR POCKET..HERE IS WHAT HAS HAPPENED TO ME
    THEY LOOKED AT A HOUSE EVERY POSS RENTER LIKED AND WAS READY TO GO .MY PARTNER AND
    DECIDED TO GO SEC8 ..WE LIKE THE IDEA OF GETTING PAID ON TIME ALWAYS..WELL WE GET ALOT OF
    CALLS PEOPLE WITH VOUCHERS GREAT. WE PICK ONE AND THEY COME TO INSPECT.THEY LEFT A LONG LIST
    OF STUFF TO FIX MOSTLY NO NECESSARY.I FIX IT MAKE TO THERE LIKING .RECALLED IN INSPECTION
    SAME GUY COMES AND RIGHTS A NEW LIST .NOT AS BAD BUT WHY NOW TELL ME THEN.SO I FIX
    THAT AND CALL AGAIN..THEY COME AND PASS FOR NOW.HIP HIP HURRAY ,NOT SO FAST WELL
    GOING RATE IS 700 A MONTH,THINKING I SHOULD GET MORE I PUT IT AT 800 ,HER VOUCHER IS 950
    THEY SAY WE HAVE TO INCLUDE ALL UTILITIES THEY GIVE ME 590,I ASK WHY SO LOW ,I WAS POLITE
    AND NICE AS TO BE ABOUT ASKING ,THEY GOT A NASTY ATTITUDE AND SAID THEY COULD REINSPECT TO SEE
    IF I WOULD LIKE ,SAME GUY SHOWS SAME HOUSE SAME E CONDITION TO TEE GOT NEW LIST OF REPAIRS
    TAKE IT ON THE CHIN AND FIX IT AND WE DECIDED TO GO THROUGH WITH LESS RENT KNOWING WE GET
    PAID ALL THE TIME ..SO WE WAIT FOR APPROVAL THIS HAS GONE ON FOR OVER A MONTH AND I WAS ABOUT DONE ….FINALLY GOT HER IN AND ALL WAS GOOD FOR AWHILE THEN SHE STOPPED PAYING HER WATER BILL ABOUT 50 A MONTH IN TOLEDO WATER STAYS IN OWNER NAME AND IS OWNERS RESPONSIBILITY.
    THINKING LIKE THE BOOK I CALLED SEC 8B AND THEM TO TALK TO HER ABOUT PAYING.WELL WRONG MOVE
    THEY JUST STOPPED HER FUNDING NOW I GET NOTHING BUT SOMEONE WHO THINKS THERE ENTITLED TO
    FOR FREE …….WELL I DECIDE TO CALL SEC 8 AND JUST SAY SHE PAID A START FUNDING.THEY WANT TO REINSPECT THEY FAIL THE HOUSE AND SAY ROOF IS TOO OLD AND UNLIVABLE SAY WHAT ARE YOU KIDDING
    ME NOW IF I WAS A SLUM LORD WITH A HOLE IN THE ROOF I CAN SEE..NOT THE CASE THE HOUSE HAD A NEW ROOF 3 YRS EARLIER I SENT IN RECEIPT AND CITY PERMITS. THEY SAID THEY ARE GOING WITH THE
    INSPECTORS REPORT WHO WAS NOT A ROOFER OR HAS ANY TYPE OF KNOWLEDGE OF ROOFING.

    BASICALLY NEVER GO IN BUSINESS WITH WITH SOMEONE THAT PUT NOTHING INTO WHAT YOU ARE
    DOING BUT GETS TO TELL YOU WHAT TO DO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  12. OH YA PS AS FAR AS THE RENTER NEEDING TO TO DO RIGHT TO KEEP VOUCHER ..NOT SO
    THE LADY THAT WONT PAY HER WATER .WAITED TO THE LAST DAY OF HER EVICTION.MESSED MY
    HOUSE UP.PUT JUDGEMENT ON HER AND EVICTION GOT A NEW HOUSE AND A HIGHER
    PAYING VOUCHER..SHE NEVER SKIP A BEAT

    • It’s your fault for accepting the lower rent from S8. Why did you agree to that rent? Sure, the tenant only has a voucher for $436, but tell him/her the rent is $525. They pay the difference out of their pocket or do not get the place.

      I currently have a couple of properties I acquired in order to rent to S8 tenants. I am currently receiving $200 and $240 per month above market rents. A third property should be ready in a week or so. I fully expect to get $150-200 above market.

      It’s only hit or miss if you price it that way. It’s YOUR property.

      Best of luck.

  13. Sean Williams

    After recently putting up my 1st rental property in Louisville, KY and getting 30+ calls, half of them being Section 8, I decided to investigate more details because I had heard the same myths. After going through all the documentation I would tend to agree with these statements and say that Section 8 can actually be a HUGE benefit for your rentals properties by increasing your over cash flow and cash-on-cash return with higher rents than the area which is guaranteed by the gov’t (whats not to love about that??)

    …the biggest down fall of course is time! – they are telling me 3-6 weeks for getting the tenant you select approved in our area (1 month of no rent!)

      • Marcus Maloney

        Thank you everyone for their input. It is my aim to ensure that their is a global perspective on Section 8 and the audience have spoken. I do understand that from the response there are many more nays then yeas. I am extremely thankful that I have not been subject to some of the terrible experiences some of you all have had. I have been working with my local Section 8 office for numerous years and they have been transparent and expedient in providing service to the tenants and landlords.

        It can be one of 2 things that provides me with the positive experiences, either we have an outstanding administration in my our area that vet the recipients well, or I have found favor either way I am fortunate. Please those reading the do your own due diligence but keep an open mind and review all terms and conditions.

        “Enjoying the Journey”

    • Chris Eaker

      What screen criteria are you using for S8 tenants as far as credit history, criminal background, etc goes? Do you look at FICO? It would seem to me that FICO might not even be worth checking for S8. I assume you check/verify income and call references. What about criminal and eviction records? Thanks!

      • Susan Maneck

        I don’t normally check FICOs for Section 8 tenants but there is one who got her voucher after she rented one of my houses. It turns out her credit score was higher than the rest of my tenants most of whom are not Section 8. I should add this is an older couple both of whom are severely disabled.

  14. Chuck B.

    Having read a lot of comments from different sec 8 landlords here, it’s apparent that some areas have good sec 8 administrations and some definitely do not. I’ve had a very good relationship with mine here in Louisville ky.

  15. Jerome Kaidor

    Good article. I have been taking Section 8 for the past 15 years, and I love it. The rent always arrives on or around the 1st.

    There have been some ups & downs – as far as I can tell, the Housing Authorities don’t check out their section 8 folks at all. So it’s all on me. But that’s the same as my open market tenants.

    Somebody once asked me: “How much time do you spend dealing with Section 8 paperwork?”. My answer: “Mostly a few minutes a month cashing their checks”.

    There have been a few issues with minimally-trained HQS ( Housing Quality Standard ) inspectors making up their own building codes, but those have been few and far between.

    I once had a section 8 tenant who couldn’t be bothered to pay her tenant portion. The contract rent was somewhat above market for that building, and what sec8 was paying us was just about what we would have received open market. But it drove my wife crazy – here was this person living in our property and not paying a dime! She nagged at me about it until I evicted her.

    Another sec8 tenant was running a party house. She was $50 behind on her copays, and I evicted her for that amount ( her monthly payment IIRC was $7 ). In general, I’ve found that the sec8 tenants with really low tenant portions tend to be more trouble than the ones whose copays are higher. I have some really excellent people who pay 2/3 or 3/4 of their rent themselves. Busy, hardworking people.

  16. jen kurtz

    Marcus,

    I couldn’t agree more with you! Much of my management experience to date has been with a mix of market rate residents and also sec 8 (Housing Choice Voucher). I think many people think that the legwork and red tape with sec 8 is extensive. But its really not. Nowhere in comparison to Low Income Tax Credit or Public Housing. HCV sec 8 is so easy. A little of paperwork to let the local HA know that you intend to have a voucher holder move in, they schedule an inspection (everything that is supposed to have a function must work, and doors and windows must work, GFIs in rooms with water, etc). The HCV program basically forces these residents to be accountable for themselves or lose their assistance. Many don’t want to do that, and sometimes wait years on a waiting list to get a voucher. Its nice to sort of have that 3rd party to help.

    Advice Id give anyone who is interested in renting to a section 8 resident– have the NICEST property that is willing to accept sec 8 and then you can get the BEST sec 8 renters! SCREEN as you would for any market rate property! I think credit is still important because if they are still having issues paying utilities or phone bills, then they are still irresponsible with their money and are still a risk of running into problems paying their “portion”. However, income will obviously not be 3 or 4 times the rent. Sec 8 allows them to pay no more than 30% of their income on housing and they make up the rest.

  17. Laxmi Sabei

    Thank you so much everyone for sharing your experiences. I recently looked at a 4-unit residence in Hempstead and 3 units are section 8 tenants. They are paying decent rents and they seem to be nice people. I met 2 of the 3 section 8 tenants. The other seems to be a family of 4 with 2 special needs children. I was wondering if you guys could enlighten me with how easy and difficult it is to increase rents on these properties and other checks that I could do on them to see if they are actually good people. What other information should I be looking at?

  18. Hello Marcus,
    This article is perfect – we just got our Jacksonville property Section 8 approved. This will be a learning process, but we are looking forward to consistent rent and possibly long tenants.

    Thanks and keep writing.

  19. Darrell D.

    My S8 rental has been my rock. I’ve moved with the military and depended on the stability. Rent could be $900 but section 8 only pays $740. It was not explained to me that the tenant had to pay a copay if wanted higher rent. On a good note, I didn’t pay for management in the last two years while I traveled. If any issues came up, the tenant texted me. BTW, you have to take care of your S8 properties… for example try removing the carpet and installing something strong.

  20. Having witnessed from initial inspection into section 8 through foreclosure, I personally watched the tenants pull down the entire street. 26 houses, half were let go because the owner was unable to stop the decline, after bank took, tenants moved, then places sold and were repaired, then rented normally, now the places are decent once again. Bottom line, if inspector, tenants, and or owner work together it can possibly be good, but in this case it went horribly wrong for the owner. As a fellow investor and part-time repair guy, I eventually refused to assist with the repairs…enough said.

  21. Names were covered with ******** but here is my experience a $30,000 remodel completely ruined who do I get to pay for these substantial damages? Not to mention her boyfriend and his 3 additional kids lived there with her an her 2 kids unknown to section 8 I\’m starting the eviction process on my tenant tomorrow for the following reasons:1.the lease term was from 07/01/2015 – 06/30/2016 since it is past they are now month to month I do not wish to continue or renew, I wish to Evict them from the premises as soon as possible for Non payment, payments not paid are February 2017, and March 2017 etc.as stated in section two (2 of our rental lease).
    2. Destruction of premises per section 7 of the lease agreement (see attached pictures)
    3.also non compliance of portion
    8 condition of premises
    9 Alterations
    10 property maintenance
    11. House rules.
    16 Right of entry and inspection.
    Explanation: I was called and told there was an legal issue why said tenants can no longer reside at said home due to warrants issued for them both, I was then told of the alleged $9000.00 of improvements that were done in the home and asked if I can reimburse them upon producing the receipts to me, which I still never received, I was granted permission by ****** to enter the home to show to a potential renter/ buyer. upon entering the premises I photoed each room I\’ll go in order first room entered was a small eating area the walls appear to be used wood that were not sanded, filled and sealed properly. the floor was again used wood that was painted a dark brown, 2 steps up on the right(which used to be a wall of cabinets and counter space with a window over looking the enclosed porch which is now the eating area) is the Kitchen I immediately noticed I was walking through where a wall once was, and that my cabinets counter and window are now gone, (which I have proof ******sold them on Facebook in ******* county yard sale,) also my floor I had installed was replaced with a brown floor that no longer matched my back splash. also there was a makeshift counter added on the opposite side that also was used wood that was not properly sanded filled and sealed. to look at it, it reminds me of a potting table for a gardener. next I noticed more wall cabinets were removed and replaced with makeshift shelves. (further taking away from the reason for the remodel to add storage in the kitchen) also a fish tank with a large dead moldy fish, next room was the living room, one wall was brick like panel with a heavy duty shelf screwed into the wall. a hole drilled into the side of the house to accommodate what looked to be a hose of some sort. next room to the left of the living room was 2 steps down the left wall that use to be the front entryway was not completed, there was a foam eggshell thing inserted where the door use to be. a makeshift closet built 3ft off the floor, mismatch flooring, and a bunk bed and a snake I assumed to be dead in a large tank behind the door. Room was cluttered in a hoarder fashion to see any other visible damage. back up the 2 steps and to the left is a long hallway, I first noticed the deep dark red paint in the narrow hallway further darkening the home and the broken molding along the hallway and on the bottom of the window. to the left in the hallway is the middle bedroom first noticed the paint was purple with black sponge like paint, above on the ceiling was white with more black sponge paint, as were the shelves, I notice closet doors were missing where there was once white custom bi-fold doors, also to messy to see any other visible damage.back down the hallway a little further to the right is a bathroom that utilized a space saving pocket door that use to be white, now painted red and black, inside the bathroom was filth, dirty toilet with frozen brown waste water ( frozen due to then leaving the home with the heat off causing the temp to be 32 degrees as per the wall thermostat in the living-room, home is now at risk of busted pipes once thawed out). In the bathroom I also noticed my vanity an medicine cabinet was removed and replaced with a over sized sink unit and also a simple mirror covering the space where my medicine cabinet once was further limiting storage in the bathroom. Last but not least was the back bedroom which the door was white with Black sculls spray painted all over it, also the left wall was dark olive green with more black spray painted sculls, after entering the room further I realized they completely removed the entire closet area walls an all. Leaving the back bedroom to the right is a back door, I then opened the door and tried to step out on to a porch that use to be there, only to find steps going straight down with no railings, looked out into the yard and the swing-set was no longer there, replaced by a rope slung over a tree limb with a wooden pallet attached at the end. I am currently awaiting multiple estimates to return the home to its prior state, I will be following up with those as soon as I receive those, as well as the police report for cost of the items stolen and sold on Facebook .

    • Dont get me wrong I do know some very good section 8 renters, but this is going to set me so far back, I’m a single mother of 3 with just this 1 rental and a full time job, Really wish I would have had a better renter, I couldn’t go thru this again, I spent that much on a remodel in hope they would be happy, and appreciate a nice home, and expected to have them enjoy it for yrs to come, sad that, that was far from the case.

      • Chuck B.

        I’m SO sorry to hear about this, but sadly it’s all too common.

        Did you vet your tenant thoroughly before letting them move in? Did you do home inspections on ALL parties to see how they treated their last property? Did you see how they treated the interior of their vehicles? Are you sure you were talking to their landlord when you checked references? Did you meet the kids?

        So many problems like this can be avoided (not entirely, but to a GREAT EXTENT) by extremely thorough tenant screening. The slightest twinge of doubt and I move on to the next applicant. Patience is key when sorting through tenants. I’ll let a place sit empty for months if I’m not getting quality applicants. Better that than this story.

    • Marcus Maloney

      Maria, so sorry for your experience, normally section 8 have to do an annual inspection of the property. During the time of the lease expiration did you walk the property. I put in my lease the tenant gives authorization for property managers to change smoke detector batteries quarterly. This allow me to be aware of what is transpiring with the property.

      You need to contact the housing authority for your county and notify them of the condition of the property and have the tenants voucher revoked. Also once you were aware the tenant moved the boyfriend in that was the time to notify the housing authority again.

      A lot of people believe that being a landlord is very easy. It can be but if the tenant screening process is not done thoroughly getting a bad tenant is still possible.

      • Maria Angelopoulos on

        I\’m trying really hard not to give up but I am a single mother of 3 with a grandchild that I take care of so repairs after spending $30,000 to redo it the first time it\’s to be a long process. The Section 8 is the New York State upstate and they are asking for estimates on the damage but I don\’t know who pays that does Section 8 pay that and then the tenant repay Section 8 in order to get their voucher back because yes they\’re valcher was taken away on the basis of the extra people living in the house the damage and the rent owed the paperwork also states that they are not able to get they\’re voucher back until they\’re in good standing with me. Thank God my job is offering unlimited overtime so I\’m going in Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturdays from 9 to 1 because that\’s all they offer on Saturdays and Sunday are my only time to fix this place. They left so much stuff behind but we\’re almost just about finished cleaning it I\’m hoping Section 8 helps pay for the repairs and that they pay Section 8 back otherwise I don\’t know how I\’m going to do it I may have to sell the place as is and take the loss which is really going to hurt my monthly income. But trying to fix it right now is hurting it even worse Any suggestions on what to do? And thank you for having this blog it\’s been helpful.

        • Marcus Maloney

          Maria, get in contact with the Housing Authority and ask them if they will pay for the damage. Make sure you have photos of how the tenant left the place and present them to the housing authority

  22. Chris Ayers

    This goes against what a few property managers have told me through their experience. The words used to describe the tenants are “entitled” and “demanding”. Not to mention that you have more government oversight and we all know how efficiently the government manages things.

    Seems like a last resort strategy for a property than initial plan.

    • Susan Maneck

      I have not found that my Section 8 tenants were more entitled or demanding than other tenants. In fact I find the higher income tenants tend to be the more demanding ones even when they aren’t paying that much rent. As for government oversight, that mostly took the form a yearly inspection. I’ve never had a Section 8 tenant complain to the Housing Authority about the condition of the house. The only time I’ve had a problem with a property passing inspection that couldn’t be addressed quickly and easily was some 30 years ago.

  23. Keith Hand

    I own some low income property in a small town and have been thinking about section 8. I’m not sure if it would be good in our area, but people ask if I accept section 8 all the time. All of the horror stories about tenants messing up properties have already happened to us with market tenants (although I will say they have all been inherited tenants). The biggest problems we have are with collecting rent. I wonder if it would be worth it to just go ahead and try the section 8 market with some units to see if it’s worth it. It seems like if it makes the collection process simpler it I would be good. Any thoughts?

  24. I am stunned that you would state that Section 8 will pay for damages caused by the tenant; definitely not true in Wichita, Kansas!! After 15 years I got fed up and took my properties off Section 8 because of the volume of problems caused by the tenants, Section 8 workers (especially the inspectors) and the local policies. I am now collecting MORE rent from my private pay tenants, and with fewer headaches. In my opinion, don’t walk — RUN — away from Section 8!

  25. With nearly 25 years experience with section 8 , what I want to throw out there is that there is a great misconception that the local housing authority is NOT responsible for managing your property. The reality is that section 8 tenants are no different that private sector tenants with the exception that a portion of their rent comes from the government. Other than that the landlord is responsible for the screening and management of the tenants and property just as one would with a private sector renter. The housing authority is not responsible for the collection of security deposit, damages or collection of tenants portion of rent or any other function of property management. The rents are based on the market rent for similar private sector units. If anyone has any questions, I would be glad to try to answer them.

  26. michael frazier on

    I live in Dallas and am a 48 y/o white male on disability after being a hairdresser for 25 years and now suffer from carpel tunnel. I was informed by a caseworker 2 years ago that they were holding open applications for section 8 and applied anr was immediately approved for the program. Now the area that I chose to reside, Oak Lawn, is a very prestigious part of town and no-one was accepting section 8 anymore in the area.
    I proceeded to a property I lived at 15 years ago and they loved me, accepted my voucher and I am sitting blessed in my part of town in a spacious 1 bedroom next to the pool with a huge patio out back.
    I want to say Thank You to Dallas Housing and everyone involved in my situation.

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