Section 8 FAQs
1. How do I find Section 8 tenants in Southwest Florida?
The easiest way to get a Section 8 tenant in Southwest Florida is to go to http://www.gosection8.com and register your property on their website. You can also got to websites like Craigslist and put it in your description that you welcome Section 8 tenants. Just like Craigslist, the inventory is constantly changing so you need to keep up with the marketing. Another great site to go to to get all of the details and what is entailed is http://www.hacfm.org which is the Housing Authority of the City of Fort Myers.
2. As a Landlord, can I check out a prospective Section 8 tenant?
Absolutely, and you should conduct a thorough background check on any prospective tenant, not just prospective Section 8 tenants. You may not ask the Housing Agency for this information. You may charge the prospective tenant an application fee that is reasonable and ordinary (the same fee you charge anyone else).
3. Can I ask for a security deposit from a Section 8 tenant? And who pays for damages caused by a Section 8 tenant, if damages exceed the security deposit?
Yes, you should always get a reasonable and normal security deposit from a Section 8 (or any other) tenant. If a Section 8 tenant moves from the unit and you are owed money for unpaid rent or damage to the unit, you must collect from the Section 8 tenant in the same manner you would collect from any previous tenant in the same circumstance. You should also get a reference from the previous landlord as to the condition of the unit that was previously rented. It will be a major help in determining the amount you might want to charge.
4. Who is responsible for inspecting my property when I lease to a Section 8 tenant?
Before a Section 8 voucher participant can move into your unit, the unit must pass a Housing Quality Standards (HQS) inspection. At a minimum, the unit must pass HQS annually. HQS is done by the Housing Agency. However, you may inspect your unit when you choose, as long as you give the tenant proper and timely notification. This should be a clause included in your standard lease and should be part of your responsibilities toward any tenant. Consider joining the Housing Agency representative conducting the annual HQS inspection, as well. Regular inspections by you and the Housing Agency can help reveal any maintenance problems before they become serious and costly. When they do the second inspection, they will let you know who is responsible to fix anything.
5. Does HUD prohibit me from evicting a Section 8 tenant?
Absolutely not. You may choose to evict a Section 8 tenant for the same reasons you would normally evict any other tenant. However, you should notify the Housing Agency that you are taking such action. If you have a good working relationship with the Housing Agency, you might be able to work out any problems with a Section 8 tenant before eviction would become necessary.
6. What should I do if I suspect a Section 8 tenant is involved in criminal activity?
What would you do if you suspect any tenant is involved in criminal activity? Probably contact the local law enforcement agency. Also, if action is taken by law enforcement, please contact the Housing Agency. The Section 8 tenant may be out of compliance with Section 8 regulations that are not necessarily covered in your lease. The agency will make that determination. Also, if a tenant is incarcerated, the agency needs to be informed.
7. Do I need to use a special lease for a Section 8 tenant?
Answer: No, your standard lease is acceptable, as long as it does not contain language that is not legal in your jurisdiction. Your attorney can help you with that. However, you will be asked to sign and abide by a Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) contract and a Tenancy Addendum. These documents define your rights and responsibilities as a Landlord, and the Tenant’s rights and responsibilities under Section 8 regulations.
Right now the waiting time for a Section 8 approval here is 2 years. If the tenant fails to meet their obligations or does not pass inspection due to their own fault, they will not be able to reapply for 5 years. So the tenants really need to take care of the properties and make their portion of the payment if they want to stay in the program.
If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me. Right about17% of all of our tenants are Section 8 and we work very well with the local case workers and inspectors and can answer most questions.