Saturday, May 27th, 2017

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Do I Have to Accept Section 8? (Hint: Yes and No)

Do I have to accept Section 8Ah Section 8. If you’re a landlord, chances are you either love ‘em or hate ‘em.

Personally, I love to hate ‘em.

But the question is…do you have to rent to Section 8 tenants if you don’t want to?

I hear this one a lot, and my answer may surprise you. But first…

Why I Hate Section 8

Don’t get me wrong, I like the idea of Section 8 in its purest original form – a temporary subsidy for underprivileged, low-income folks to help with their housing while they get back on their feet.

And for landlords…basically guaranteed rent from the government. And who wouldn’t want that, right?

Me. I don’t want it.

Because after many very frustrating (to say the least) experience with Section 8, I’m convinced the system is flat out broken.

  • I’d say for every person who legitimately needs the program, there’s a dozen or more who are basically deadbeats, working the system, living off my taxpayer dollars for as long as humanly possible. Sorry if that offends you, but that’s what I’ve seen.
  • The Section 8 inspectors I’ve dealt with are notorious for always failing you at least once, no matter how nice your property is. It’s like they feel it’s their job to always fail you the first time.
  • And their nit-pickiness is flat-out mind blowing at times.

As an example of the last two points, I had one inspector pull out his pen, and tell me that if he was able to stick it under a single fleck of paint (on my freshly painted window sill) and pull it up, then he’d have to fail me for “peeling paint”.

I’ve also had one inspection result in a laundry list of silly items to “repair”, then after painstakingly tending to all of them, failed again on the second inspection due to a whole different set of “repairs” that weren’t even mentioned or noted on the last inspection.

Bottom line, I’m out. Section 8 can have their guaranteed rent – I’ll take my chances with regular tenants and common sense.

Why People Say You Can’t NOT Rent to Section 8

Whether you love or hate Section 8, you’d at least think that it should be the property owner’s right to make the decision on whether or not to participate in the program, right?

Well as you may have heard, there’s a disturbing trend emerging of municipalities across the country changing the ground rules to keep you from being able to say “No” to Section 8 tenants. One way they’re doing it is by amending laws to now prohibit landlords from discriminating based on a person’s source of income.  In short, this means that if someone has a housing voucher and can make the rental amount requested, the landlord must accept the voucher.

I say this is a gross violation of our property rights. But nobody in charge cares what I think.

How to Legally NOT Rent to Section 8 Tenants

Quickie disclaimer: I’m not giving legal advice here. Please use or don’t use this at your own risk, consult your attorney first and all that good stuff, OK?

That said, here’s my clever trick for getting around this…

Yes, we already have a “source of income” discrimination clause around here. So when I get a call from a prospective tenant, I can’t simply tell them, “Sorry, no, I don’t take Section 8”, or I’d be discriminating based on their source of income.

But remember those ridiculous inspections I mentioned earlier? Well I’m not aware of any law that requires me to have our houses 100% passable by the stringent Section 8 standards.

So basically whenever someone asks me if I take Section 8, my response is,

“Well, we always accept applications and application fees from anyone, Section 8 or otherwise. However in my experience, Section 8 tends to have a hyper-stringent property inspection that borders on the ridiculous. We’ve had properties in the past fail for a single fleck of peeling paint on one window sill, even though the entire house is freshly renovated and in excellent condition. So with this in mind, we’ll gladly accept your application. But we cannot promise you that our house will pass that level of inspection from Section 8. In fact, I’d be really surprised if it did.”

Problem poetically solved.

That’s always been enough to send them on their way, and also keep me in safe territory legally, since I didn’t turn them away – I just gave them fair warning of the likely outcome. Once I say this, they just move on.

So there you go. If, like me, you’d rather stick a hot poker in your eye than work with Section 8, this could be a way to let you have your cake, while keeping you out of hot water.

So what are your thoughts and feelings with Section 8?

I’m all ears, so leave a comment below and let’s hear it.

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Do I Have to Accept Section 8? (Hint: Yes and No), 3.8 out of 5 based on 29 ratings

About 

JP Moses is a roughly-hewn man-child who first got into REI after reading Rich Dad, Poor Dad back in Y2K and went full time in 2002. He's tinkered in everything from landlording to short sales to rehabs to Realtoring to REOs to notes to owner financing, blah, blah, blah...Till he finally stuck his flag deep into wholesaling and has since flipped somewhere north of a couple hundred deals.

JP's not a “guru” but also doesn't think it's a bad word. Among his core values are authenticity, creativity, big honkin' value, general fun-ness and being unshaven. He's super proud to be chief blogger guy at REItips.com and host of the free REIology podcast. He also thoroughly enjoys sharing his 53 best real estate investing forms with anyone who wants them. You should totally check that out. :-)

  • Connie kepke

    Section 8 is a disgrace whn the tenant won’t pay a difference of $100 takes FOREVER to evict them, then they totally TRASH your property, steal your copper plumbing, flood your home, leave garbage thts a disaster. Familiar wth it by a dear friend tht had a beautiful home before the trash moved in. She learned her lesson tho, never again!!!!

  • laura

    I just got on section 8 .if always paid my own rent worked hard. Then if feel sick lung problems. It took 11 years for me to get on section 8 .if never got put out or late on rent..I cleaned apartments had a good business. And I understand why people do not want to take it.but its hurt others that are good people to rent to

  • YouNoWho

    Well of course landlords should check references, but you’ve never been a landlord? It’s always the nicest people who turn out to be deadbeats and they are skilled in slight-of-hand when filling out applications.

  • David MySky

    I have been a landlord.
    Do you check all references? And not just the last job and landlord reference? I always asked for employment and landlord references going back at least 5 years.
    Have you tuned up your bs detection meter lately?

  • David MySky

    You’re an asshole.

  • Robo

    Except for the taxpayers. How about not accepting it for the moral & ethical reason that you don’t agree with the program?

  • Ladyz4ever

    I’m in the same situation as you. I am also homeless due to not being able to find a home with a voucher. i make decent money, work hard everyday. I have four beautiful children that plays sports, no criminal history whatsoever. i feel the same way as you. but i refuse to live in a violet community for a place to stay.

  • Tell me how peeling paint on a facia board is a health hazard. If you like Section 8, you sound like you are new at this or have rentals that are hard to rent. I like free enterprise. We should be allowed to rent our property to whomever we want. Experience tells me that tenants with good credit, good job, non-smoker, no vicious breed dogs, and good references are good tenants and it has nothing to do with discrimination. The properties that I have taken over that had formerly been Section 8 rentals are so trashed and abused that I wonder why anyone would want to deal with all the problems.

  • There are loopholes in the system. I had some “Low-Income Buyers” who qualified because their interest income on their savings qualified them. They had enough to pay cash for the property, but since their “income” fit the criteria, they were able to buy a $120,000 foreclosure Condo for $39,000. The government was requiring that they be offered to low-income buyers first and their “income” was low. It was a stupid program. They were “yuppie” condos, A true “low-income” buyer probably would have a family (condo was a 1-Bedroom), the HOA fees were high, a low-income person couldn’t afford it, and all bedrooms were upstairs. Many “low-income” people are elderly on SS or retirement income and unable to climb stairs. So, most of the Condos sold to people who just knew how to work the system.

  • No, it isn’t fair. So why deal with them?

  • I work in a building where the food stamp office and a lot of other “assistance” offices are located. It really bothers me when I see people going upstairs to apply for Food Stamps & Welfare who just drove up in a new car with an I-phone, expensive processed hair style (hi-lights, low-lights, frosted, etc.) and sculptured nails ($25/week) go to get their entitlement. I had a Section 8 tenant one time who bought a NEW Firebird and cussed me out because I questioned how she could afford a new car when she couldn’t afford to pay her own rent. It’s a valid question. I reported her to the Housing Authority and she took the car back. I think that if our schools would teach kids how important it is to get a good education and pick a field that would support them in a lifestyle they want, people wouldn’t have to be on welfare. I taught my kids that you need to keep good credit, work hard, and that their weekly gross income was going to determine where they would live. I think it actually cripples people to give them too much. When our system pays out more than they could make if they worked, it takes the motivation away.

  • Darcy Koch

    You’re so full of it. You live in a dream world if you actually think there are tenants out there who are perfect. And even thinking they are would make that person a very poor landlord. Maybe you? I live next door to a bldg. with several Section 8 tenants who DO work, Do have clean apts., Do not smoke, Do pay their bills, etc. Perhaps you might know one or 2 individuals who are otherwise, just as I know several who are not on Section 8 who I would never consider renting to. Wake up from your dream lady.

  • Darcy Koch

    I am so close to knowing where you work. Watch out bitch–your job is in danger.

  • Darcy Koch

    How does that even make sense? If they were handed more than they could make working why in the HELL would they WANT to work you asshole?

  • Elle

    You are the reason that we need laws to protect people from discrimination.. Your advice on circumventing the law is down right cruel… If you really understood the hoops some people have to jump threw just to survive when they are a single parent maybe, just maybe you might have a different perspective.. Somehow I still doubt it… Inspectors or not the level of homelessness and lack of vacancies is down right disturbing and your level of discrimination and lack of humanity in this regard is beyond my comprehension.. I truly hope someday you are down on your luck and feel the hurt, disappointment and fear that families feel when people like you treat them like some form or lower class simply because they need help getting there family safe. The world could use a few less people like you, because compassion is part of being a member of society and our countries lack of understanding and compassion is part of the problem not the solution. I honestly hope you have a chance to see the struggles that people go threw and just maybe you might find your humanity in the process.. God bless.

  • Elle

    Hello, Ii would try to post something logical in hopes that you have an ounce of humanity but reading over some of your past posts on other subjects made me realize that you probably wouldn’t understand. The lack of intelligence and compassion you express is pure ignorance. You have no understanding of things beyond your own selfishness..

  • Elle

    Yes there are people that use and even abuse the system, just like there are immoral people who own multimillion dollar companies…. There will always be good and bad with any situation but I don’t understand why people seem to think its ok to discriminate against ALL people on section 8!?!? Our country is build on the premises of helping people back on their feet, “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!” Do you people even know where this is written and what it means!?!? Some how people can’t even see how prejudice they are being, discrimination can happen for many reasons and apparently being poor means you are less of a human being to some people. How do you not see how ignorant that is???? Being poor or needing help is not a sign of weakness and it sure as hell doesn’t mean that you don’t deserve a chance to live in a safe and secure home!!! Wow everyday I loss more faith in humanity as a whole.

  • Jake Francis

    What you would like is to post something to stroke your ego and make yourself feel better. You want to tell yourself your not a loser for being on welfare but you are! You can say you never know when you would need help as I often hear but I’ve been there already and still asked for no help! So know I will never rely on other people’s hard earned money because I’m not a loser!

  • ZtotheInfinitePower

    Keep in mind that the fact they have something does not mean they paid full price for it recently. It may have been a gift. It may have been from before their welfare days…people do lose jobs and fall on hard times. In my neighborhood, which is well off, you can find designer clothes with tags attached in the thrift stores for five bucks. The new car might be a friend or Uber. People are not treated well if they look poor so they might try not to.

  • Mary

    I am asking for first and last months rent plus a deposit. I have had all most every one ask if I accept these vouchers. My reply is I accept them as long as you meet all other criteria’s which are the following. Good Credit, pass all tenants checks and have the total money required at the signing of the lease. Is this all good to say?

  • Misty

    I just had a tenant give me a voucher for section 8, we have them on a month to month lease currently. Doesn’t anyone know if I have to accept it in California? This is my first property and can’t afford to make all their changes and I’m getting really to sell the property and I don’t want to be a landlord anymore. I have been researching for hours and cannot find a flat out answer since they are currently a regular tenant.

  • frackedup

    Then he’s one out of one a kind. Was your section 8 temporary?

  • David MySky

    You’re full of ? if you think all Section 8 tenants leave their homes looking like a dump site.

  • David MySky

    And this pertains to Section 8 rental vouchers how?

  • David MySky

    No.

  • David MySky

    Regarding smart phones- When I was working I found myself moving often and having to pay $85 to move my land line so I dumped it and kept my celaphone number. I have received free upgrades mid contract and free phones for switching plans. Some companies will even buy out your old contract and give you a new one, so you FAIL on that part of your argument.

  • David MySky

    Did he do a background check on the sort of friend? If not, he only has himself to blame.

  • David MySky

    Did you do a background check on the prospective tenant? If not, your only has himself to blame.

  • frackedup

    The landlord is very lucky then as it is not the norm. Some landlords fight for years just to get the legal rent increase when the tenant signs a renewal. Anyway…best of luck. I hope you get back on your feet soon.

  • David MySky

    35x the monthly rent?!! WTF?! I was renting a 2 br condo when my daughter was living with me for $1400/mo, which was a deal back then, and I was only making about $35k/year.

    That’s a bull ? clause if ever I heard one. According to your guidelines, I would only be able to rent a shoe box, or a frig box if I was lucky.

  • David MySky

    And just because someone got laid off during a big recession and fell behind bills while still paying their rent doesn’t make them bad tenants.

  • David MySky

    BULL FN ???

  • Powerlurker

    It’s a standard clause in professionally managed properties catering to the middle class and above and falls in line with the general financial recommendation that one shouldn’t be spending more than a third of one’s gross income on housing.

  • Monica

    Angry and wanting to take the fact that he never made anything of him self. So he like to pick on those he perceives to be less fortunate than himself. You need to elevate yourself and maybe you wont be so angry and mean. Try going back to night school to finally finish up your high school diploma, then maybe you can pick something relatively simple to study at some local community college. Get yourself a real job and contribute more than verbal venom to this world. Buh-bye :).

  • Darcy Koch

    I suggest you get out of this field. Yet I can’t think of one where you would fit in. Maybe a garbage collector cause you’re trash.

  • Darcy Koch

    You must be one NOSEY bitch to know where these applicants go, what they have, how much it costs, etc. You are NOT the person for this job. Take your predjudiced attitude elsewhere.

  • LegalAids

    What would you do if your “None Section 8” tenant late their 2 – 3 payments and or broke your wall? I believe you would be more headache with the lawsuit to collect a few dime back.
    With Section 8 tenant I don’t think they are late payment or dump enough to violate rent agreement and the housing rule because they don’t want to lost their Section 8.
    Some peoples look good out side but might not good inside ! 🙂

  • Standupguy

    No. Just most.

  • Marilyn

    Any property in Massachuestts built before 1978 must be deleaded otherwise cannot rent to family with children under 6, a very expensive exercise, but we did it. CA does not seem to have same requirement

  • Marilyn

    We always require credit score of 675 or highter, proof of income and at least a one year lease. How does that fit into section 8 program?

  • chris kirby

    in virginia landlords are forced to paint and recarpet a rental every 5 years as needed……..

  • Robo

    Yes because society’s parasites never figure out ways to scam the system.

  • Robo

    Typical reply of a welfare parasite who can’t stand someone having a different opinion. Want everyone else to be jobless as well.

  • Robo

    You can definitely evict. The rules are a bit different but you can evict. The advantage is they won’t get section 8 again.

  • Robo

    My humble opinion is to let them know you can’t afford to make the requested changes so you’ll have to issue them a notice to vacate.

  • Robo

    Since the evictions can take longer you may want two months security rather than one (2 is the maximum in California).

  • Robo

    No it’s not. It’s similar to owners who’ve had a bad experience with pet owners whose pets destroyed their property. It leaves a bad taste in their mouth and they don’t want to deal with pets in the future. Human nature.

  • Robo

    Meaning the monthly rent amount must be 35% or less of your monthly gross income.

  • David MySky

    Yes, what?

  • David MySky

    Do you even bother to look at applications from prospective Section 8 tenants, or do you just blow them off?