This week's podcast is all about the Good, Bad and the Ugly of Section 8. Your host, Jim Ingersoll, covers all the bases to help you, the Landlord, see the entire picture and help you determine whether you want to rent to Section 8 tenants.
1. What is Section 8?:
Section 8 is a government program that dates back to the Housing Act of 1937. Section 8 pays rent for over 3 to 4 million low-income households. A variety of Section 8 programs are available to low-income tenants, but the most popular is the voucher choice program. This program will pay either a portion of the tenant’s rent or all of the tenant’s rent depending on the individual tenant’s financial situation.
2. The Good:
Most Landlords either love or hate the Section 8 program. They love it because they don’t have to worry about receiving full payment of their rent on-time, every single month. They don’t need to worry about checks being “lost in the mail” and a million other excuses tenants use to not pay their rent on time every month. And they love it because they can charge a lot for their rent.
3. The Bad:
One of the reasons that some landlords don’t like Section 8 is the government regulation involved. They don’t want the government involved with their rental properties. The government puts regulation on all Section 8 properties. The regulation includes a safety inspection when the tenant moves in and ongoing inspections at least annually.
After the inspection process, you’ll need to fix every item on their list before the tenant is approved for move-in. The inspection criteria is more stringent than most landlords expect, so the expense can be costly.
Section 8 agencies are typically under-staffed and over-worked. This can result in a slow process of getting through the inspections, the contracts, tenants moving in, and waiting for your first check to arrive.
4. The Ugly:
Another primary concern is the quality of the tenant. Landlords fear that Section 8 tenants may be rough on their property, and not properly maintain the house or call when there are issues like leaking water.
Sometimes the tenants have large families or invite others to move in with them to share remaining expenses or even sublet out the couch. Extra people can lead to heavy wear and tear on the property.
The way to minimize this is to fully screen Section 8 prospects just as you would non-Section 8 tenants. Landlords need to pull criminal background checks, call previous landlords, and check everything regardless if the tenant is in the Section 8 program or not.
5. Bottom Line:
Some landlords love the Section 8 program. There are real estate investors who have 100% of their rentals filled with Section 8 tenants. Others hate Section 8 because of the challenges managing the whole process. How about you? What are your Section 8 experiences? Did you try it out, stay with it, or drop it as fast as you could? Share your Section 8 stories with us right here in the comments section.
Join Jim at Deal Maker 2020 Live February 6 - 8, 2020 in Richmond, VA