The Benefits of Being A Section 8 Landlord - Introduction
The Section 8 program is the federal government's major program for assisting very low-income families, the elderly, and people with disabilities in affording decent, safe, and sanitary housing in the private market. Since housing assistance is provided on behalf of the family or individual, participants are able to find their own housing, including single-family homes, apartments, and townhouses.
The participants can choose any housing that meets the requirements of the program, and, is not limited to units located in subsidized housing projects.
Section 8 is administered by the Public Housing Authority (PHA). The PHA receives federal funds from HUD (Housing & Urban Development) to administer Section 8. Once someone has been approved for Section 8, it is their responsibility to find suitable housing where the Landlord agrees to rent under the program guidelines.Note: The Landlord never gets involved in the process of establishing the eligibility of tenants to receive rental assistance. The PHA has already determined this before the prospective Section 8 tenant calls you.
Housing Inspection Quality List:
- There cannot be any chipping or peeling paint anywhere on the inside of the unit.
- There cannot be chipping or peeling paint anywhere on the exterior of the unit.
- Cooking stove must be clean and in working order. (Either the tenant or the owner must provide)
- Refrigerator must be clean and in working order. (Either the tenant or the owner must provide.)
- There must be an installed heating system that works.
- There must be hot and cold running water in the bathroom.
- There must be hot and cold running water in the kitchen.
- There must be a shower or bathtub that works.
- There must be a flush toilet that works and does not leak.
- Bathrooms must have either a window to the outside OR an exhaust fan.
- There must not be any plumbing leaks.
- There must not be any plugged drains. (Check for slow drains)
- All ground floor windows must have attached locks and exterior doors must have locks including working deadbolts.
- All electrical outlets must have cover plates and be in good condition.
- There must not be any missing, broken, or cracked windows.
- The roof must not leak. (Check the ceiling for stains)
- The hot water heater tank MUST have a temperature pressure relief valve with a downward discharge pipe made of galvanized steel or copper tubing that is at least 3 feet long (NO PVC), and reaches to within 6" of the floor.
- There must be GFI outlets around all sinks.
- The floor covering cannot be torn or have holes than can cause someone to trip.
- If there are stairs and railings, they must be secure.
- Working smoke detectors are required in in every unit, in every bedroom, and on every level.
In Every Section 8 Lease Agreement, The Landlord Is Responsible For:
- Performing all management and rental functions, including resident screening.
- Maintaining the unit in accordance with the HUD Housing Quality Standards.
- Complying with equal opportunity requirements and all fair housing laws applicable to the property.
- Furnishing all information required under the Housing Assistance Payment contract.
- Paying for utilities included in the lease.
- Collecting the following from each Section 8 assisted family:
- Any necessary security deposit
- The tenant portion of the monthly rent
- Any charges for damaged caused by the family
A Simple Step-by-Step Process:
- Place your property using the Available Landlord List, or posting vacancies on our bulletin board, you may also advertise Section 8 in the local newspapers.
- Interview and screen prospective tenants.
- Select a tenant, fill out the Request for Tenancy Approval (RFTA) form that the tenant has in their possession and have the applicant submit the forms to the Housing Authority.
- An appointment will be scheduled with you for the Housing Quality Standards inspection.
- When the dwelling passes the inspection, a lease effective date will be established.
- The Lease will be signed by both the Landlord and tenant. The Housing Assistance Payment Contract will be signed by the Landlord and a Housing Authority representative.
- The tenant receives the keys to the dwelling and moves in.
- YOU GET PAID!
Frequently Asked Questions - From Landlords About The Section 8 Program:
How much rent can I expect from my property?
You determine the asking price for the unit. However, the rent must be reasonable compared to other units of similar location, quality, size, type, and age. If the rent is not reasonable to similar units, you may be asked to lower it to accommodate the tenant interested in moving into the property. Should you rent your property through Section 8, rent increases must also be reasonable in relation to comparable units, the payment standard in the jurisdiction, and what portion of the rent the tenant can afford to pay.
How much can I ask for a security deposit?
You can ask for as much as is allowable under local law, typically one-months rent. However, you cannot legally ask more in security deposit from a Section 8 applicant than you would ask of any other applicant. Once you have collected a security deposit, you will have to place the money in an interest-bearing account. Please consult local guidelines for more details.
How is the breakdown in rent calculated?
The housing authority will make payment to the landlord for the difference between the payment standard and the tenant's total payment. The tenant would pay the difference between the total rent and the voucher amount (which would be paid by the housing authority). Both the tenant and the housing authority would pay their portions of the rent to you at the beginning of every month. A delay in the housing authority's payment may be expected when the tenant first moves into the unit. Please contact the housing authority for more details on when exactly you will receive payment.
Can I refuse to rent to an individual?
You have the right to select the tenant you want for your unit using whatever criteria you determine. However, you must not discriminate against an individual because of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, familial status, or disability.
Who pays for damages to the property during occupancy?
Damages beyond the normal wear and tear and are tenant-related can be paid for by the tenant. You should have a standard practice listed in the lease as to how damages will be paid for by the tenant. After the tenant moves out, you may take compensation for damages beyond the normal wear and tear from the tenant's security deposit.
What if I have problems with the tenant?
If you have repeated problems with the tenant, you have the right to enforce your lease and take the necessary actions against the tenant. Whenever you do start proceedings against a client, you must follow local regulations. Should you send the tenant any correspondence, such as a warning letter or a notice to vacate, please send a copy to the local housing authority.
What is the housing authority inspector looking for in the inspection?
Before a tenant can move into your property, the housing authority has to inspect the unit. The inspector is looking for minimum Housing Quality Standards (called HQS) to ensure that the unit is in livable condition. If it is not, you may be asked to make some repairs to the unit prior to the client moving in. The housing authority cannot pay on the unit until it passes inspection.
Who do I contact for legal questions about landlord/tenant matters?
1618 6th Avenue
Des Moines, IA 50314-3301
Phone: (515) 243-1277
Iowa Legal Aid
1111 9th Street, Suite 230
Des Moines, IA 50314
Toll free: 1-800-532-1275