How to Become a Section 8 Housing Landlord – Requirements, Pros & Cons

section 8 housing buildingMost landlords don’t think highly of the Section 8 housing program. Over the years, I’ve heard dozens of myths about it. Landlords see it as a hassle; they think the housing authority will breathe down their neck, or they believe they’ll get awful tenants.

The truth of the matter is that the Section 8 program can work wonders for some landlords. The housing authority is not that difficult to work with, the properties rent faster, and the tenants are not much different from others. However, with that said, how well it will work for you largely depends on how you run your business.

For example, large property management companies can easily handle the extra work that accompanies Section 8, while private landlords may not have the time to invest in the program. Landlords should thoroughly measure Section 8 pros and cons so as not to miss out on a potential source of rental revenue.

How Section 8 Works for Landlords

The Section 8 process is fairly straightforward. In order to operate a Section 8 rental, the local housing authority must approve both the landlord and the property itself. Different housing authorities may have their own requirements, but typically any landlord can use the Section 8 program, including private owners and property managers.

  1. As a landlord, you will need to complete an application and provide personal information. The housing authority will also review your rental rates to ensure that they fall in line with rates for comparable dwellings in your area. One major drawback is if the housing authority feels you are overcharging for your rental, you may be required to lower your rates.
  2. Once the housing authority approves you as a landlord, an inspector will visit your rental property to make sure it meets all local building and safety codes. The inspection process is a lengthy one. At the very least, you must have working locks on every window and door, the structure must be sound, and the wiring and plumbing must work safely. Depending on the area, you may need to install heating or cooling appliances, such as central air or radiant gas heaters. Some local codes may also require that you install handrails or safety ramps outside the property.
  3. Once the inspector approves your property, you can begin accepting Section 8 housing choice vouchers. At that point, you find your own tenants and complete a separate lease agreement with them.
  4. Then, once a month, the housing authority will mail you a portion of the rent and the tenant will pay you the rest.

Pros to Section 8 Housing

The Section 8 program has several advantages. Many landlords think the better aspects of the program outweigh the bad, but it is up to you to decide.

  • Guaranteed Rent. One of the biggest problems landlords face is getting the rent on time every month. With Section 8, you will always get the majority of the rent on time, every time. Typically, Section 8 tenants pay their portion on time as well. Since failure to live up to the lease can cost them their housing voucher, Section 8 tenants can be even more reliable than private tenants.
  • Pre-Screened Tenants. The housing authority reviews every case before approving a Section 8 housing voucher. Mostly, the housing authority is looking at income levels, but many housing authorities will turn down tenants with past criminal problems. This screening process may provide extra protection for your rental, and chances are that if the tenant passes both your tenant screening process and the housing authority’s, you won’t have any problems.
  • Wider Access. Section 8 is a popular program and most urban areas have hundreds of tenants on a wait list. By accepting Section 8, your property becomes marketable to a wider pool of tenants which gives you a better chance of getting it rented.
  • Free Advertising. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development offers a website that tenants can use to find low-income housing. Several local housing authorities also maintain a website or a separate list of Section 8 landlords in their area. Both of these services are provided free of charge to tenants and landlords.

section 8 housing

Cons to Section 8 Housing

  • Routine Inspections. To get into the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher Program, your property will need to pass a safety inspection and possible routine inspections depending on the area that you live in.
  • Rent Control. The housing authority will not tell you what to charge for your house or apartment, but you will need to keep your rent within the median for your area. If you have an extremely well done or nice rental in a bad area, you may lose out on rent you could have otherwise charged outside of the Section 8 program.
  • Potential for Difficult Tenants. Many landlords are wary of Section 8 tenants. Since these tenants are not paying much for the rental, they have less incentive to keep the property in great shape. Moreover, Section 8 can attract low-quality tenants that give you trouble. With that said, if you do your homework and keep an eye on the property, there is no reason you can’t find a great tenant and enjoy the experience.
  • No Decrease in Workload for Landlord. Despite the belief by many that the Section 8 housing authority will assist landlords throughout the rental process, you will still need to screen the tenant, create a lease, and police your rental just like you would with a private tenant. While you can report the tenants to the housing authority if they commit a major lease violation, the day-to-day responsibilities still belong to you. Moreover, the housing authority will not help with finding tenants, making repairs, collecting rent, or keeping the property safe.

Final Word

The Section 8 program has its benefits. You get free advertising, a range of potential tenants to choose from, and guaranteed rent every month. But you’ll have to do extra work for these privileges. Many landlords hop on the Section 8 bandwagon and love every minute of it, while others wouldn’t touch the program if you paid them to.

Deciding on whether to accept housing vouchers is really a matter of where your rental is, how popular it is, and your willingness to deal with the process and paperwork. For example, if you rent in a popular urban area with a high percentage of low to median income renters and don’t mind the extra work, then the Section 8 program may be the best thing for you. But if you rent in a suburban area with few low-income residents and really do not want the added stress, you’re probably better off leaving the program to someone else.

As a landlord, what experiences have you had with Section 8 in the past? Have you had any trouble with the housing authority or your tenants?

  • Barbara S Ellis

    How do I (homeowner) apply to make my two-family home SECTION 8 READY!!!

    • Angela Colley

      Barbara – the conditions vary by state. If you contact the housing authority office in your city they can give you a complete list of everything you’ll need to do to apply as a landlord. Thanks!

  • Bob Borean

    What inspections do I have to have on my 5 unit apartment building in Columbus, Oh qualify for section 8

  • David

    If I own a house with and in-law apartment, can I apply for section 8 for the in-law apartment?

    • Tiotek

      What’s an “In-law Apartment”

  • Marie

    If i rent a home in a 55 and over mobile park can the tenant apply for section 8

  • Iris Lacoste

    can I have a family of 3. single mom and 2 daughters rent a section 8 from their grandmother?

    • Tiotek

      No, a tenant can not rent from a family member.

  • Joann Brown

    How do I become a Section 8 Landlord in Maryland

    • Tiotek

      Look for HUD, Low Income Housing or Housing Authorities in your county

  • [email protected]

    can I acquire properties with the aid of public housing with little to none of my own money?

    • Reader

      No.

    • SG Fitzpatrick

      I wish I could go back in time and give her a trophy for most stupid question. I bet you are a Democrat, they seem to think the gov will just pay for everything – even public housing that will be yours and you will collect rent checks, so essentially you asked “Will the government give me a free company that I will then make money from?”. I so hope you don’t vote.
      Ugh.

  • Mr Christian

    Can I Have section 8 tenants if I am still paying on the home?

    • Angela Colley

      Generally yes, but some state laws may differ. Check with your local housing authority. They’ll be able to give you specific advice for your state.

    • Tiotek

      Yes

  • BlueEagle

    A property management company handles several of my current rental properties, can they manage section 8 properties for me as well.

    • Tiotek

      My God I hate property management companies, they require anyone 18+ to pay $40. if they plan on living in the rental & there’s generally 2 to 4 adults per application, so that’s like $80.-$160.00 just to drop an application .

      Then after they’ve stacked-up at least 5 to 10 applications(the more the merrier), they’ll finally make a selection based the same racially biased qualifications that have always held true(please don’t ask me to list em)

      I’ll put it like this, I applied & paid at a property management company for the opportunity to have them present my 19 year old son & I to a series of LLs.
      I have no evections on my history & I have a letter of recommendation from my current LL, which covers 4 trouble free years(not late on rent once). No calls from the police, fire, emergency or city. Just $37,000.. worth of trouble-free equity paid into her property over the last 4 years @ $900. a month.

      Now all of a sudden my LL says she needs to move in, so needless to say my Son & I have to move out(just like that) so after I apply at a property management company, I somehow expected they would look-out for us, after all we paid them $80.00. In the end I got no house from them in fact they didn’t bother to tell me the LL I was applying to was arrested on sexual charges stemming from a tenant harassment suit.

      Now don’t you think this is something I should have been for-warned about ? After all what had I paid them for ?

  • Oreo2501

    Can u have back taxes and still qualify to be a section 8 landlord

    • Tiotek

      You mean can you owe back taxes & still qualify to be a Section-8 LL.( I say yes but I’m not 100% so I’ll leave it for one more qualified)

    • SG Fitzpatrick

      Pay your damn taxes. This country is in trillion dollar debt and Obummer & Co wants to start forgiving all Uni debt, which is baloney and shows people they can get away with not paying what they owe.
      Look at how many upvotes are on that comment…. wow, gee, how is the US in so much debt??

  • Thomas Williams Jr.

    I am a homeowner can I rent to relatives who have section 8

    • Tiotek

      No(I wish one could, since it’d make it a lot easier to find a landlord willing to take a chance.

      • Jessica

        ??… So, if my mom got her house approved to accept section 8 vouchers and we go through all the right channels and do all the correct paperwork I could NOT rent her house?

        • Angie

          Jessica, did you ever get an answer to your question? I am curious.

        • Dori

          Only if your mom or a family member is disabled in California. Don’t know about other states.

        • SG Fitzpatrick

          Why did people keep asking each other?? Hello, go to the place in your state that handles this!

      • Dori

        You can if they’re disabled & need your help. Just read that for California Section 8.

      • GammaSmasher71

        While it is true that, let’s be honest, most landlords are leery of section 8, I was still able to find a place that I’ve just signed on for a third year.

        I think the best advice is can offer is to hold off on using phrases like HUD or Section 8 until after you’ve sold yourself a bit to the landlord. Early on in my conversations with my landlord is used the word “assistance ” a couple of times, but by the time the word “HUD” came out of my mouth, I had already sold myself. On earlier attempts I found myself shut down as soon as I said HUD.

        Don’t know if that helps, but it worked for me.

        • Jenai Herod

          True , also having a detailed rental resume together nice and neat with contacts you can let the new landlord call and verify helps even more , It should be your previous rental history and not your guaranteed method of paying rent that gets you turned down for a place if you ask me

    • SG Fitzpatrick

      Not legally.

    • Jenai Herod

      usually NO but in certain situations it could be approved as a reasonable accommodation which you can submit as a request to hud depending on circumstances . It is based on your specific situation but for general reference the standard answer is NO

  • Peter

    Hi I have a question about section 8.

    If section 8 put my rental property in abatement ,does the tenant have to continue to pay their part of the rent till section 8 remove the abatement off the property??

    • Tiotek

      Is this a hypothetical question ?
      I ask because I fail to see how Section-8 could cause anyone’s house to fall into, or be put into abatement. From my perspective abatement is something only an owner can let happen, after all Section-8 merely rents from you.

      Look, a tenant’s responsible for promptly notifying you of any problems with the rental, & it’s your job to repair the problem before the next scheduled payment (30 days). You’re given 30 days to fix it, or the month to month contract will be void until it passes inspection. After all, you will have breeched the contract.

  • ArmyAviator

    Who pays for the DAMAGE done to my property, when the tenants decide to move? Who pays the unpaid rent, when they skip in the middle of the night?

    • Sarah

      It would come out of their deposit like everyone else . Dummy.

      • SG Fitzpatrick

        I usually hate it when people call each other names, but that was just funny, in context of all of these beyond-ridiculous comments. I feel like I have been living on the planet with a bunch of 5-year olds who want Daddy Government to fix their boo-boos for the last almost decade. Grow up, people. Think before you ask a question. Did you all just land on this planet??

        And yes, Sarah is correct. Every apartment I lived in during college and just after, I had a huge deposit for cleaning, for damages, for a litany of things. And if you think people will (and since you wrote “when”, it sees you assume they will) “skip in the middle of the night”? Get first and last month’s rent. But it is really ugly that you think because someone needs the help that Section 8 Housing is actually for, that you assume the recipient would just steal away in the night, like the terrible criminal that you think poor people are. I always got all of my deposits back, as I respect myself enough to treat my home with respect – and the person who owns it.

        I think you should re-think your career choice, Army. And remember, a LOT of people are living paycheck to paycheck…. which means anyone can suddenly be homeless. Even you.

  • Kristy McCoy

    I have a condo that I want to rent out. Do I have to inform the association that I might rent to a section 8 person? Does the section 8 inspector or any people from section talk to the association?

  • YSTownie

    I am a tentant in Ohio, renting a privately owned home, managed by a third party. Due to my documented disability, I have have to quit working since moving into the home 16 months ago. I was approved for Section 8 housing, 2 weeks after appyling. I took the request to the management company who denied to accept the Section 8 voucher. Her reasons were as follows: She owns and manages many propetries in the area and doesn’t want to be hassled with working with the housing authority on inspections / leases, etc.; She doesn’t want to ask the owners of the property to participate because it will be a burden on their end and her job is to relieve that burden; She can easily rent out the property if I need to move as a result of this; When I moved into the home, I was able to work and not need this amount of assistance, perhaps I can’t afford it now and should move; Her largest concern: having to accept Secition 8 on all her other properties which are, and this is local public knowledge, not kept up to code & the cost to repair everything up to Section 8 standards would be unbearable. Do I have any grounds at all to fight for the righ to stay in my home? I am a single mother and due to the area, would have to re-locate my children out of town. Thank you.

    • littlebuddy12345

      I seriously doubt the landlord said the things you say she did. It sounds like you chose to interpret, to your liking. That would be enough for me to avoid you. I don’t know what your single mother status has to do with this either. The landlord may be a single mother also. Now what?

      • YSTownie

        The landlord owns more than 30 properties in this town. She is married and a mother. Her mother established and owns the realty business in which this woman runs the rental side of the business. I have no reason to lie about what she said. If I was looking for real advice, what would lying gain me? She was very blunt in her wording when speaking with me, there was no need to “interpret” anything. To update the thread, I gave up the Section 8 voucher, have stayed in the home, and continued on. Why? Because moving to live a more financially comfortable life wasn’t worth uprooting my kids, away from their dad who lives in town and where they’ve attended school for the past 5 years (they are grade school age, so this is a big deal). There’s your “now what”.

        • littlebuddy12345

          The fact your landlord is married, and has kids really doesn’t prove what you said is true. I really can’t recall with the “he said she said” was.
          Why would you lie? Why do people lie? Too back up their point.

        • nikki37

          Ooh shut up nobody Is lying to you, who are you, lol, this lady was simply explaining her situation and asking for advice if you have none them remain silent cause you just want to be heard, nobody got time for that.

        • littlebuddy12345

          “have none them remain silent cause you just want to be heard, nobody got time for that.”
          “nobody got time for that”?
          Do you have time to open a book and learn to write? LOL!

        • Jenai Herod

          Im just curious to know what your point is littlebuddy12345 . and how your point is relevant to the PROS AND CONS of the Sect. 8 program ?, from the comments your making im guessing you might be looking for the Jerry Springer website where mud slinging and pointless inappropriate remarks are entertaining ,

        • littlebuddy12345

          I’m not sure if your referring to the comments from “a year ago”? I’m really not sure what was floating around then, Jenai ! Not a clue. Bring me up to date, and I’ll give an opinion. How about that? lol

        • Jenai Herod

          high five Nikki

        • Jenai Herod

          i would have tried looking for another place or goind over the property managers head to the owners if you had been there for any lenght of time establishing yourself in that community . And Its a shame more landlords are so put out by filling out a few pages and kepping their units in properly maintained condition preventing you from being able to benefit (as the owners would have ) from the program , what a lot of landlords dont know is that if the place needs too much to make it pass they will sometimes in certain situations help with repairs either in a grant or low interest loan to get them upnto code , but they would prefer hoping it fixes itself and charging full rent to someone working full time and only sleeps there anyway . so doesnt want to be bothered with minor safety issues they arent ever there anyway .

    • DNSnyd

      Suppose the landlord agrees to go through the Section 8 process. Do you expect her to simply not collect rent for the next six months while she waits for HUD inspections and approvals? Your inability to pay is your problem, not hers. Welcome to reality.

      • Jenai Herod

        but if the hpuse was up to minimum standards her rent would be covered so its not about inability to pay rent but the inability to get the landlord to accept the rent regardless of where she gets it , if its not up to code then why should she pay rent even without section 8 ? thats reality too

  • http://www.nononsenselandlord.com/ No Nonsense Landlord

    As a former Section 8 landlord, I agree.

    Section 8 is a great program, but the tenants are extremely high risk. If I was to ever be required to take section 8, I would still keep my credit score criteria and I think all would be well at that point.

    I just wrote a post why I asked my last Section 8 tenant to leave.

    • Jenai Herod

      credit scores arent as telling as rental history , and true their are risks with low income tenants but those people who violate the program rules are no longer on the program they dont last long and are weeded out rather quickly its the ones who have had their certificates in place for years that are the lowest risk , but not all new participants are high risk you just take your chances like any one from the private sector .

      • http://www.nononsenselandlord.com/ No Nonsense Landlord

        Previous landlords lie. People that are not on Section 8, maybe never were, or got kicked off. You can never know.

        The private sector is MUCH lower risk, if you understand credit score distributions and have a solid property.

        And Section 8 program HATES to kick people off. The people get a free attorney and get back on.

  • Tiffiana Harden

    I would like to be a section 8 landlord. I have the land to out the apartments on, but not the apartments. Will the gov build the apartments for me? Or do I have to do that?

    • SG Fitzpatrick

      WOW a lot of people really do expect the government to just hand you freebies! I really hope the answer is no, and wonder why you can’t even be an adult and go find these answers from your city and state instead of Googling and begging someone else to give you the answers.

    • Vasco315

      I sense a tea bagged presence amidst this thread…

  • guest

    I’m a landlord with a section 8 tenant in a rent controlled city. Attorneys say the only effective way to get the tenant out is for non payment of rent The housing authority failed the unit and we fixed what was written in their report. the tenant told me, a couple of weeks later, something else was broken. we were still trying to make the second repair when the housing authority came back after 30 days to reinspect the initial problem which had been completely fixed. They failed the unit again stating that the same thing needed to be fixed which was in their first report. they cancelled the next months rent and refuse to address the problem with the incorrect information on their report.. i wish i had known the cons of section 8 before i rented to them. Section 8 is a federally funded program. Those are my taxpayers dollars helping fund the program for low income people. What’s more pathetic is that these same low income people are given free legal advise and attorneys so that they can sue you while you may have to pay $350 a hour for an attorney. This is not working for me.

    • Jenai Herod

      what I find here in your statement thats pathetic is that you would punish your tenants who obviously PAY their rent but you would still THROW THEM OUT because of a repair issue that could have easily been resolved by contacting the director of the HUD for your county ? Landlords expect their tenants to follow the rules but when the Landlords dont follow the rules the tenant still ends up with the brunt end of things hence why their is a LEGAL AIDE to make sure its FAIR for BOTH SIDES not just the landlord . That’s just one of the things that makes this country great and God FORBID one day you should ever face losing your home for reasons beyond your control , as has happened too millions not long ago , Then you would not be so quick to complain about having the same right to those services as anyone else . you are no less entitled than anyone else to affordable legal help just as low income families should be entitled to live in a safe clean properly maintained home hey PAY their rent with or without subsidy you should be happy and consider making sure the property is properly maintained and trying harder to treat your tenants like PEOPLE with lives and families and responsibilities like anyone else and not treating them like nothing more than souless RENT CHECKS

  • Patricia Dawn Wenz

    Can I rent out part of my house to section 8 and still live there?

    • mgk1177

      I would like to know the answer to this too because a friend of mine is trying to do this & seems too good to be true!

      • SG Fitzpatrick

        It sounds like dirty pool to me. Have you thought about just doing an airbnb kind of thing? (Where you rent a room or a whole house/apartment like a hotel, but you can have “guests” who pay for a month or so). I see that is has been a year since you asked the question, did anyone ever help you? You also would have to find out of your house is zoned for that, etc.

        The way I see it, as a disabled person who has always been part of a family who pays our dues, cuts no corners and never cheats, and yet has been denied any help at all from the Government? There are too many cheaters out there. And the people who do things right pay for that, which is just unjust and really gross.

  • Conscientious Cyclist

    “Many landlords are wary of Section 8 tenants. Since these tenants are not paying much for the rental, they have less incentive to keep the property in great shape.” This is inaccurate. Section 8 still requires most tenants to pay 30-40% of income towards rent, so they are still paying just as much, if not more, for rent relative to their income than you or me. Section 8 simply levels the playing field.

    • Shawn

      U all suck taking in $ ++ and fucking up our good neighborhoods with trash renters bring ing in drugs and dog fighting. Screw u all

    • Jenai Herod

      Exactly , and I can tell you as a section 8 tenant I know just how hard it is to find a decent home even close to the section 8 limitations and how easily landlords will take advantage of tenents no matter how good they are . i have always left my rentals in very good condition in hopes of getting my deposit back ,taken pictures done walk thrs and no matter how nice i have left a unit i have NEVER gotten my deposit back even once one place charged me for NEW carpet that wasnt damaged at all and the neighbor downstairs confirmed all they did was clean it but i was charged 700 for new carpet and only 50 bucks for cleaning and I can prove I left it cleaner than when I moved in 2 yrs prior , and thats just ONE incident of several over the years, so knowing in advance no matter what i do to take care of a place i know I will NEVER see my deposit again .

  • alsoguest

    i have rented a single family home for the last 6 years and have no desire to leave. my landlord and i have a long-standing, good relationship. recent health issues and lay-offs at work have put me on the edge of financial crisis. (medicaid is now helping me with hospital bills). i’m researching getting housing assistance at this point. the rent is very reasonable for this residence considering the neighborhood. can my landlord accept section 8 in my case and then change it back if i ever decide to move? is it uncommon for that type of arrangement to be made for existing tenants/landlords?would it make any sense to my landlord to consider making ‘our’ home section 8?

  • Ajsmom

    I have decided to rent to section 8 voucher holders and have chosen a tenant. She told me her voucher is for $1350 for a 3 bedroom. How is it determined how much of the $1350 they will actually pay me for rent? Will it be determined based on the inspection? Do I need to indicate how much rent I want to begin with? I’m a little confused how this works.

    • Marene

      Good question. I also want to know that answer

    • Laura Spann

      It depends on a few factors. Rent, utility allowance etc are all included in the computation form. It is based on the tenants income. If she has to pay $300 then Sec 8 will pay the rest. And you can’t say I want 1350 for rent because only a portion of that is maximum allowable rent. That might be $1150 and the rest utility allowance. After they crunch the numbers they will decide what her contribution should be. You can avoid getting less than you want for the property if you just say that you will accept a 3bdr voucher.

  • Rachel

    I am looking for a two bedroom house in my area which is Aiken SC available on section 8

  • Mackylos

    Can non US resident landlords apply for section 8 to acquire tennants?

  • hawkei

    I live in a residential community comprised of single family homes only. To my knowledge there are no community restrictions on renting ones property. Can I rent my house to a qualified section 8 applicant? Or, are there zoning or other regulations which may prohibit renting under the section 8 program?

    • Bab Babson

      There are no zoning restrictions that prohibit landlords from renting to people who hold Section 8 vouchers. I have rental properties in 5 states and have been renting to people with Section 8 vouchers since 2002.

  • Jenai Herod

    where would a property owner who wants to build a little house so that the person who t has worked for them cleaning their vacation rental ( a manufactured home on 20 acres ) and is a section 8 participant who recently was forced to move because the house that they lived in became uninhabitable due to a heavy rattlesnake and rodent infestation . the plan was to build a little simple home that they could rent to their vacation rental cleaner since they want to build a house on the property anyway but have discovered that the permits will price the project out of their budget and had to cancel the whole plan unless there is someway to help them get a break on the cost of permits .? Any suggestions as to where they can seek some advice on this unique situation , It seems a shame not to build the house and keep their vacation rental and caretacker over permits costing more than anticiapated ?

  • Darrell White

    You have provided lots of good information. I live in Dallas Texas. I have a Section 8 Choice voucher. I currently live in a housing program provided by one of the local Behavioral Health Services that help individuals suffering from mental illness and homelessness with a residence. Depending on a person’s background ( felonies only) you will move into a supported shared housing with the other individuals but having your own locked room. I receive my section 8 voucher this March and even though I have past Dallas Housing Authorities background check which only represents one year four arrests and convictions. I am still having a difficult time locating an apartment because some apartment complex accept Section 8 but an individual has to have no felonies and there are others requires the felony to be 5 to 10 years old. I do understand it is the property owner’s discretion, however, I believe that the properties owners that accept Section 8 should follow also the guidelines of the Dallas Housing Authority. I don’t want to be a cheater or a liar. Please advise the best way to overcome this particular obstacle. Please be advised I do not have a felony conviction only an arrest butt I am on a two year deferred adjudication probation and the charge will be dismissed after the completion by August 1st 2016.