Tuesday, September 13, 2016

The Good, The Bad and The Ugly About The Section 8 Program ~ This Week At Real Estate Investors of Virginia


This week we will have special guest speaker Jessica Farmer with Roanoke Redevelopment & Housing Authority who will be talking to us about the Section 8 program.

Not every state gives you the right to say no to Section 8 applicants. The recent trend is for landlords across the country to get sued for saying they don’t take Section 8. The basis of the lawsuit is that you are discriminating regarding their source of income.

The protected classes are different in each state. Several states have made additions to the standard protected classes. In Virginia they are race, color, religion, national origin, sex, disability, familial status and elderliness which is our addition.

Given your Commonwealth right to say no to participating with the program, Jessica will be with us to tell us about the benefits including the maximum rent they will pay per bedroom voucher, what that dollar amount really means, etc. This will hopefully shed some light on exactly how much rent the tenant qualifies for. I have a very large portion of my portfolio as Section 8 rentals right now and believe me, it’s extremely irritating taking the place off the market because you think you have a tenant and then you find out that they don’t qualify for what you already know is the going rate for that property.

Another big disadvantage is that it often takes at least a full month of lost rent before the unit is officially qualified. And that disadvantage to some degree takes away from the advantage of being able to be pretty sure you’re going to get your rent every month. I say pretty sure because I have found on several occasions that if a tenant wants to move as a result of you catching them doing something they aren’t supposed to, or billing them for damages they caused, they will use the scummy tactic of calling the Section 8 office to have an inspection done. As well as code enforcement. And when that inspection is done the inspector will fail the unit requiring the damaged items to be fixed. Both items that the tenant damaged as well as new things found. Even if the unit passed inspection just a few months prior. It almost feels like they are working with the tenant to help them break the lease. If these items aren’t fixed then they will terminate all rent payments. 

This leads you down a real potentially nasty road. Every single tenant that is in the Section 8 program qualifies for Legal Aid. And Legal Aid will counter sue you for the damages stating that you forced the tenant to live in terrible conditions completely disregarding the fact that the tenant never told you about any problem, the unit was just inspected and got passed with flying colors, and several of the items on the list were done by the tenant. And if you win the case against Legal Aid with an expensive attorney, they will appeal it to the circuit court to empty your other pocket.

Can you tell I’m not real happy about the program in it’s currant state? There have been times where I loved it though.

Additionally, Section 8 also stated in their landlord meeting several months ago that they were going to start checking units once every 2 years rather than once a year. That sure was a breath of fresh air. But I can tell you that never happened. They also told the group that inspections are getting ready to become much worse than they already are. Which is already so bad that it has driven many landlords I know out of the program. Hopefully Jessica can shed some light on the new strengthened criteria.

Come on out this Tuesday and hear the benefits of the Section 8 program while being given an opportunity to tell them what you like or dislike about it.

See you there!

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