By Reggie Brooks
The Housing Choice Voucher Program, aka “Section 8” is a Housing and Urban Development Program that helps to insure that low income families, the disables and the elderly have access to safe and sanitary housing. These private market rentals would ordinarily be out of their financial reach but with assistance, these families can have access to housing where they can live with dignity.
Here’s How It Works…
In order to qualify for a Section 8 voucher, an applicant must apply to the program at a local public housing agency (PHA) that is an extension of the federal Housing and Urban Development (HUD) agency. The PHA will determine eligibility based on the applicant’s annual gross income and family size. Once the PHA has verified the applicant’s information with other families and approved the applicant for a voucher, the applicant becomes eligible for a voucher. In most cases, the need for assistance is greater than the resources provided to HUD and the family is placed on a waiting list until funds become available.
The voucher operates as a rent subsidy. Individuals and families who are approved for a Section 8 voucher may select a rental from the private market including an apartment, a townhome, or a single-family home. While the PHA uses the amount necessary to rent a moderately priced home in the local market, recipients can choose to rent a home above or below that cost. They must make up the difference between the subsidy and the home’s rent. The subsidy does not cover the entire rent; recipients must pay 30 percent of their income toward their own rent.
What Does Section 8 Mean to You as a Landlord?
As a landlord, you may question whether or not you should accept a tenant with a Section 8 voucher. The program requires that the landlord must provide safe and sanitary housing for the tenant and adhere to the terms of the lease that both parties agree on. As a landlord, these should be criteria you are already meeting. Additionally, Section 8 requires that rentals pass a housing inspection to be eligible for the program. The landlord is expected to maintain the property throughout the duration of participation in the program.
Participation in Section 8 has numerous benefits to a landlord:
- Pre-screened tenants with verified income. The PHA verifies your tenant’s income and employment to ensure they can pay their portion of the rent. Some PHAs will turn away applicants with criminal histories. Combined with your own tenant screening process, you should be able to find excellent tenants for your rental.
- High demand for properties. Due to a shortage of properties and an overwhelming number of applicants, demand for Section 8 housing is high. Your property will also be listed on the Section 8 website for your area, providing free marketing to your target audience.
- Guaranteed income. Getting rent paid on time is one of the biggest hassles that a landlord faces, but in the Section 8 program, the rent subsidy is paid directly to you. Additionally, most voucher recipients will pay their portion on time as non-payment can risk their continuation in the program.
While there are some drawbacks for landlords, such as continuing with routine inspections to ensure the property is being maintained and some restrictions on how much rent can be charged, the benefits for a landlord are significant.
Reggie Brooks, is an international speaker, author and educator, dedicated to inspiring others to achieve personal success through real estate investment. He is also the #1 Vacant, Abandoned & Distressed Property Specialist in North America.
Having risen above a life of poverty, he has achieved what many people consider to be impossible. He went from making $36,000 per year at the local telephone company, to making over $40,000 per month in his real estate business. Today, Reggie delivers his personal philosophies for success at major business venues and expositions throughout the United States. Reggie attributes his success to faith, dedication to success, and to the invaluable coaches he has had along the way.