Section 8: What Is It And How Does It Work?

First things first: let’s define what Section 8 is. Section 8 is the housing choice voucher program. Section 8 is a government housing assistance program funded by the federal government and is meant to provide housing assistance so that families of low income or the elderly or the disabled have access to cleansanitary, and safe housing.

Section 8 is not the same as low-income housing. For example, you can have a nice investment property located in a very nice area, and you, as a landlord, could have the choice to qualify that property for Section 8. In essence, Section 8 is funded by taxpayer money thanks to the 1937 Fair Housing Act

What the act provides is that the government is going to take part of the taxpayer money, meaning, your money and whoever pays taxes, and they’re going to use a chunk of it to provide housing assistance to those who happen to be part of the low-income bracket.

Section 8 Program: Landlords

What does it mean for you as a landlord? It just simply means that this is an opportunity for you to provide housing, and also, get back that tax money that you pay at some point in your life. 

The way it works is that Section 8 will provide a percentage, and would help cover a percentage of that rent. Let’s say, for example, you have a house, a nice property, and a very nice neighborhood, and you are charging $1,400 for that rent. In essence, Section 8, depending on the income of the family, they can choose to cover a certain percentage of it. In this case, they are going to provide that family $1,000. That means that the government is going to cover $1,000 of it, and the remaining $400 is going to come out of the renter’s pocket.

Basically, any house can be a Section 8 house. It doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s part of low income. As long as you, as a landlord, are abiding by the qualification standards that Section 8 has for a home, you just simply have to pass the inspection and make sure you maintain those rules, and any property, regardless of the area that you’re located, whether it’s high end, low income, could qualify for Section 8 housing.

Contrary to popular belief, Section 8 does not equal the government paying for your rent completely. That’s where you see some of the confusion that, unfortunately, Section 8 has gained a negative connotation that if you have government assistance program, therefore, the property values or the area, it’s going to start depreciating, it’s going to lose its value just because, unfortunately, people get to think that you’re misplacing or you’re placing people who are not worthy of taking care of your property.

About Section 8 Tenants

Section 8 tenants, they do have an incentive to take good care of your property. Otherwise, they’ll just simply lose the assistance. That means they’re going to have to be forced to move out of a nice neighborhood while in the end, every family, every parent just wants to place their family in a safe and sound neighborhood.

section 8
The tenants have to take care of your property, otherwise, they’ll have to move out.

In order for you to better understand how Section 8 works, there are four key players you have to pay attention to. Those four key players are:

1-. The PHA, which stands for Public Housing Agency. 

2.- The federal government.

3-. The landlord.

4.- The tenant.

The way it works is that the PHA acts like a middleman for everyone involved. The federal government is going to take the taxpayer’s money, and it’s going to allocate a percentage for Section 8. It’s going to be sent to the PHA who is going to be in charge of qualifying the tenant as well as the landlord to make sure that everything is in check.

They check onto the tenant to make sure that whatever amount of income they claim, it’s in fact accurate because this is a government assistance program meant to help families of low income, help the elderly, or help the disabled. They have to qualify. They have to meet the standards in order to get that assistance from Section 8.

Just like they do with the tenants, they have to qualify you, the landlord, the investor, as well because they want to make sure that you’re not simply providing any housing, the type of housing that you wouldn’t even place your own mother-in-law in it. They want to make sure that whatever you’re providing, it’s safe and sanitary and a nice place for someone to have a peace of mind, come home, unwind, feel that they are safe.

How do you actually become a Section 8 landlord, and can anything qualify? 

If you’re great at following rules, you can qualify your property. Section 8, it’s very specific in terms of their qualifications and their regulations. They have a set list of standards. Basically, the way you go about it is that, if you’re interested, you’re going to have to visit a local PHA, and you’re going to ask them about their qualification standards. 

What is it that you need to apply for Section 8?

1.- They’re going to ask you to fill up or submit an application, which you’re going to do right there. Make sure to bring your ID and some evidence that that is, in fact, your property and the address, of course, because they need to verify the location.

section 8 agent
The housing program will send an inspector to your house to make sure that you meet the requirements.

2.- Once your application is approved, what the agency is going to do is that they’re going to send an inspector to your property. Why? Because they need to make sure that it meets the qualification. They’re going to give you all the rules, all the qualifications, requirements beforehand so you can start working on it if for whatever reason there’s some of the items that you would need to check. An appointment, depending on the agency, depending on the state that you are, can take as little as 30 days as much as 60 days. Every county is different, every state is different, but on average it will take right around that time.

The inspector is basically going to go in, do a check, review that everything it’s in place. You can have three types of reviews:

1. A pass or a fail

2. They could conclude “Unable to determine”, which simply means that they’re going to need to go back or do another visit.

3. Then, assuming that everything is going properly and you get approved for the Section 8 program, all you gotta do is just simply inform the Public Housing Agency that there’s a vacancy in your property, and they just simply start sending Section 8 families your way. 

Then, once you start meeting those candidates, you’re going to start qualifying them through your own qualification process.

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