Ah 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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