The Housing Choice (Section 8) Voucher program subsidizes rent payments for low-income families. Voucher recipients are free to live anywhere, including apartments, condos, townhomes, single-family homes, and are responsible for finding their own housing.
As a landlord, you are not required to rent to tenants because they have a voucher. However, it is against the law to discriminate against any potential tenant based on race, gender, religion, family status, national origin, or the fact that they are enrolled in the Housing Choice (Section 8) Vouchers program. Though it is not required to rent to tenants simply because they have a voucher, there are some benefits for landlords who do rent to voucher recipients.
Families with a voucher are responsible for paying 30% of their family income toward rent, which is paid directly to their landlord in the same manner other tenants pay rent. The remaining balance is paid directly to the landlord by the Public Housing Agency (PHA) who administers the Housing Choice (Section 8) Voucher program in their area. This offers landlords rent security since the bulk of the payment is coming directly from the PHA. You will enter into a traditional lease agreement with the tenant and another agreement with the PHA.
Check Your Eligibility
It is important to note that families enrolled in the Housing Choice (Section 8) Voucher program have only been screened for program eligibility requirements, which are not necessarily the same screening requirements landlords do or should use for tenants. Landlords are permitted to and should use the same screening process when determining if a potential family with a voucher would be a good tenant that they would for families without a voucher.
All properties where vouchers can be used must meet Housing Quality Standards set by your PHA. Your PHA can advise you of the standards for your area. They are not often extreme and are in place to ensure program participants find housing that is suitable, safe and clean.
PHAs often let landlords have this inspection done with or without a request from a potential voucher tenant. This gives landlords an opportunity to be proactive and sell themselves as “Section 8-friendly”.
There are many databases and websites, included one overseen by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, where landlords can list their properties to be seen by Housing Choice (Section 8) Voucher program participants. They offers free advertising to landlords looking to fill vacant units.