Most landlords don’t think highly of the Section 8 housing program. Over the years, I’ve heard dozens of myths about it. Landlords see it as a hassle; they think the housing authority will breathe down their neck, or they believe they’ll get awful tenants.
The truth of the matter is that the Section 8 program can work wonders for some landlords. The housing authority is not that difficult to work with, the properties rent faster, and the tenants are not much different from others. However, with that said, how well it will work for you largely depends on how you run your business.
For example, large property management companies can easily handle the extra work that accompanies Section 8, while private landlords may not have the time to invest in the program. Landlords should thoroughly measure Section 8 pros and cons so as not to miss out on a potential source of rental revenue.
How Section 8 Works for Landlords
The Section 8 process is fairly straightforward. In order to operate a Section 8 rental, the local housing authority must approve both the landlord and the property itself. Different housing authorities may have their own requirements, but typically any landlord can use the Section 8 program, including private owners and property managers.
- As a landlord, you will need to complete an application and provide personal information. The housing authority will also review your rental rates to ensure that they fall in line with rates for comparable dwellings in your area. One major drawback is if the housing authority feels you are overcharging for your rental, you may be required to lower your rates.
- Once the housing authority approves you as a landlord, an inspector will visit your rental property to make sure it meets all local building and safety codes. The inspection process is a lengthy one. At the very least, you must have working locks on every window and door, the structure must be sound, and the wiring and plumbing must work safely. Depending on the area, you may need to install heating or cooling appliances, such as central air or radiant gas heaters. Some local codes may also require that you install handrails or safety ramps outside the property.
- Once the inspector approves your property, you can begin accepting Section 8 housing choice vouchers. At that point, you find your own tenants and complete a separate lease agreement with them.
- Then, once a month, the housing authority will mail you a portion of the rent and the tenant will pay you the rest.