I am retired and take educated guesses on all things financial.

June 01, 2009

June 2, 2009: Section 8 - Will This Be A Civil Rights Club Against Landlords?

Section 8 is a voluntary program providing qualifying individuals (family unit) with a voucher to rent real estate. I like the Section 8 program. It has made me a lot of money. Still. it can be a nuisance and many landlords want no part of it.

Moves are constantly in motion across the country to make acceptance of Section 8 tenants mandatory. Under the present administration in Washington, a national effort may be shortly in the works. They like to make things easy for voting constituencies, it seems.

The primary argument is that because the majority of Section 8 recipients are minorities, the refusal of Section 8 certificates is discriminatory. The rationale is that the same tenants would not be accepted without the certificates.

All other things equal, tenants might not be accepted simply because their income would not be sufficient to pay rent. Is the next legal claim to be that refusal to rent on the basis of amount of income constitutes discrimination?

The landlord not wanting to accept a Section 8 voucher can gain the upper hand as follows:

Section 8 requires certain property standards, often at the discretion of the Section 8 inspector. If the property does not meet these standards, you are not required to fix it so it conforms. Then, the property will be rejected for Section 8 and you can rent to a non-Section 8 tenant.

Keep rent above what Section 8 will pay.

Require a move-in date earlier than the local Housing Authority can get the paperwork together and send you the rent check.If you have specified in your printed requirements handed to rental applicants that they must be able to move in on the first of the month and that you be paid the entire amount due for rent and deposits then, that will go a long way toward eliminating Section 8 applicants. They can't move in, because they don't have the first and last months' rent plus the deposit.

Check rental application carefully for omissions and errors. If you find an error, reject it.

Look for mandatory Section 8 to be used as a way to solve the nation's urban housing challenges. If you don't like Section 8, you need to discourage and reject at the source. That said, for those of us who use Section 8 vouchers as a part of our rental portfolios, effective selection of tenants with a Section 8 voucher can be a beautiful thing.

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