The Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) Section 8 program is the United States’ affordable housing program for low-income families, the disabled and the elderly. Section 8’s two main subprograms, Rental Certificates and Housing Choice Vouchers, are tenant-based, and this approach allows applicants to rent apartments, townhouses or single-family homes in an area of their choosing. Administered on a local level by public housing agencies (PHAs), both subprograms assist Section 8 applicants in covering their monthly costs by providing a portion of the rent directly to the landlord.
However, in order to obtain the HUD monthly payments, landlords must meet several obligations, as set forth by the department. Property owners must provide safe, clean and decent housing units at a rent amount close to fair market value for the area where the dwelling is located. As long as the proprietor receives the HUD funds on a monthly basis, he or she must perform regular maintenance on the rental unit in order to meet standards set by the program. The PHA, on the other hand, is obligated to routinely inspect the housing. If the landlord fails to follow the stipulations of the lease, the PHA is authorized to discontinue providing the HUD payments.
Read the below sections to review the landlord’s role in the Section 8 assistance programs, and learn how to become a Section 8 HUD-funded landlord.
- What is the role of the landlord in the Section 8 program?
- How to become a Section 8 landlord
- Advantages and disadvantages of becoming a Section 8 proprietor
What is the role of the landlord in the Section 8 program?
The property owner, just like the tenant, the PHA and the Department of Housing, is one of the main participants in the Section 8 program. While tenants are required to keep the rented housing in good condition and pay their monthly share of the rent, the landlord must also fulfill certain obligations.
- Housing owners who agree to become Section 8 landlords must adapt the rental unit based on HUD specifications and follow these rules and regulations:
- They must provide safe and comfortable housing with good sanitary conditions.
- They are required to charge a reasonable rent, which is similar to the rent of a mid-quality apartment in their area.
- They cannot accept other payments outside of the contract.
- They must treat the Section 8 applicant as any other standard tenant.
Housing owners who agree to become Section 8 landlords must adapt the rental unit based on HUD specifications and follow these rules and regulations:
After locating a housing unit that meets their needs, Section 8 petitioners can submit their selection to the PHA, so that the housing authority can perform an inspection of the chosen rental unit. Then, the standard procedure requires landlords to screen any potential applicants. If the housing passes the PHA inspection and the proprietor accepts the Section 8 voucher holder, they can sign the rental agreement. The landlord will also have to sign an agreement for housing assistance payments with the local PHA. Both contracts have the same validity period.
In order to pass the PHA’s inspection, the landlord must follow the HUD’s Housing Quality Standards and improve the dwelling’s quality in several important aspects, including: the security and space of the housing, the access for disabled individuals, the presence of smoke detectors, the water and air quality, the overall sanitary conditions, the structure and building materials, the illumination, the electricity and the heating.
Landlords who do not follow the aforementioned obligations on a regular basis, or whose housing unit does not meet the above requirements, will breach the contract provisions, and their HUD funding will be terminated. On the other hand, if occupants stop paying the monthly rent, the landlord is authorized to evict them.
How to Become a Section 8 Landlord
United States housing owners who intend to rent their property to Section 8 participants must contact their local public housing agency in order to finalize the procedure. In addition, you must also modify your advertisements to inform potential program participants that your housing accepts Section 8 payments. Based on the specific housing authority in your state, the application process and the requirements to become an HUD-authorized landlord may vary.
In general, any type of proprietor, both private owners and managers of large properties, can become Section 8 landlords by following several straightforward steps:
- Attend a landlord briefing session (if required).
- Attend an Owner Certification Training course (if required).
- List your housing property in Section 8 through your local PHA.
- Submit the appropriate application for a Section 8 landlord, along with all necessary additional documentation.
- Provide a direct deposit account, which is necessary to receive the HUD funds.
- Schedule a visit by a PHA inspector who will check whether your building meets all safety requirements.
After completing all of the above steps, new Section 8 landlords can start accepting program participants as tenants.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Becoming a Section 8 Proprietor
Before deciding whether or not to participate in the program, housing proprietors can review the advantages and disadvantages of being a Section 8 landlord. The main benefit of opting into the HUD housing program is that the department guarantees payment of the majority of the rental costs each month. Section 8 beneficiaries will also provide their part of the rent, as not complying with this stipulation may result in them losing their housing certificate or voucher. In addition, the HUD will also review each potential tenant and check whether or not he or she has previously committed any crimes. Another benefit of becoming an HUD-endorsed landlord is that your chances of renting out your housing unit increase, as a large number of Section 8 applicants are on a waiting list for program vouchers.
Certain disadvantages that may deter you from participating in Section 8 are the need to complete the additional workload related to managing Section 8 tenants, the HUD-controlled rent (as you cannot request monthly rent payments higher than your area’s fair-market value) and the periodic PHA inspections, which your housing unit must pass to stay in the program.