Section 8, the income voucher housing program, offers a steady stream of renters for your vacant units. If you’ve never rented to Section 8 tenants, you may have questions about how it works, or even why you should consider renting to Section 8 tenants. Get the facts here to make the right choice for your available rentals.
What Is a Section 8 Tenant?
To qualify for Section 8, individuals must:
- Be low-income (30 percent of the median income level)
- Be a U.S. citizen (in some cases, legal immigrants may apply)
- Pass a screening and interview
Qualified candidates who pass will receive housing vouchers that pay anywhere from one-third to three-quarters of the rent.
Many of the people in Section 8 housing are disabled, while some are elderly and others have fallen on hard times.
Why Rent to Section 8 Tenants?
Since there is often a waitlist for Section 8 housing, you’ll almost certainly fill your rental quickly if you offer Section 8 housing. If guaranteed rent for one year seems like a good deal, you may want to rent to Section 8. You’ll get the government’s voucher to cover part of the rent, then collect the remainder from tenants.
Section 8 tenants may be more likely to become long-term tenants, since changing apartments within the program is often a hassle.
While there are advantages to being a Section 8 landlord, it’s not without downsides. You’ll need to apply for any rental units, pass inspections and get annual inspections to remain in the program. The housing authority also sets rent ceilings to keep your rent in line with market rate. While you may net more as a Section 8 landlord, increased rent isn’t guaranteed.
Section 8 may not be a good idea if you’re hoping to get a renter into a vacant unit quickly. It takes time to apply and pass inspection, not counting time to make any repairs. If you’re in a rush, you may prefer to lower the rent or search for subletters who can move in right away. However, if you don’t mind a bit of a wait to get long-term tenants into your apartment, then it may be the ideal opportunity for you.
How to Rent to Section 8 Tenants
To become eligible, you’ll need to apply through your local housing authority. Once you complete the application, a Section 8 inspector will visit. You may need to make repairs or bring your property up to code to pass inspection; don’t let this take you by surprise.
Assuming you pass inspection, you can advertise your rental to the pool of Section 8 renters. You’ll need to prepare your own lease, although the housing authority will review your lease and your rent.
Just because you’re accepting Section 8 tenants doesn’t mean you need to take the first applicant. The choice of who to rent to is still yours. Perform your due diligence by screening tenants when accepting Section 8 vouchers. This provides peace of mind that prospective tenants are who they say they are.
Once you’ve found a tenant and have a signed lease, you can relax. All you need to do is collect the tenant’s share every month; the housing authority pays the difference.
Renting out your apartment is only the first step in enjoying success as a landlord. Get help with day-to-day landlord duties and enjoy discounts and incentives by joining American Apartment Owners Association. Explore all member benefits or join today and start saving.