Common Questions About Section 8 in San Diego

We answer the most commonly asked questions about Section 8 rental assistance.

While many people have heard the term “Section 8,” many landlords and tenants alike aren’t sure what it is or how it affects them. With the new law going into effect in San Diego in August 2019, landlords are starting to worry about how this will change their rental properties and screening process. Lucky for you, Good Life is here to answer our most asked questions we get from landlords about rental assistance programs.

What is section 8?

Section 8 is a form of government rental assistance. It provides low-income residents of the city with funds for housing. Typically the housing agency will determine how much of the rent the tenant is required to pay based on their household and income. The remainder will be paid by the housing agency.

Currently, the waitlist for section 8 is extremely long. People wait an average of 8-10 years to be accepted and receive funding.

Do I have to accept section 8 vouchers?

Previously, in the city of San Diego, landlords were not required to accept rental assistance vouchers as a form of viable income. However, starting on August 1, 2019, that rule will change. All landlords (and property managers, by extension) will have to accept a section 8 or other rental assistance voucher as a form of income.

You will no longer be able to have a statement in your rental listing saying that you do not accept section 8. People that submit a section 8 voucher as proof of income must be treated the same as those without it. You are still allowed to have your own rental criteria, i.e. the applicant must make 2.5 times the rent, landlord references, etc. The only difference is that previously, the vouchers did not count as a source of income.

Does the housing committee tell me what I can rent my home for?

Yes and no. You are still responsible for pricing your own property. The housing commission will recommend a rental rate based on their own analysis of the property, the market, and the neighborhood, but ultimately it is up to the landlord.

When the landlord wants to raise the rent, typically once the year lease is expiring, they must provide a 60-day written notice to the tenant and the housing commission. They must also submit a rent increase application and the rent increase can’t exceed the increases for tenants that are not on rental assistance.

Can I ask for a security deposit?

Yes, you can. Section 8 tenants are the same as any other tenant in this regard. However, you cannot ask for an increased deposit just because they are on section 8. The deposit must be fair and in accordance with other tenants on the property, if it’s an apartment complex.

How do I get paid?

The portion of the rent paid for by the housing agency will be direct deposited into your account on the rent due date. The portion paid by the tenant will be paid in whichever way you choose to collect rent. Should the rent be late, you can still charge a late fee and proceed accordingly.

Do the section 8 vouchers expire?

No, these vouchers do not expire. So long as the tenant does not violate any rules or lease provisions, they may remain in section 8. If they eventually make sufficient income, they can leave the program.

Can section 8 tenants be evicted?

Like any tenant, if a section 8 tenant is late on rent or violates their lease, you may proceed with a three day notice followed by an eviction, if necessary. The only difference is that you must notify the housing commission that you plan to begin the eviction process.

What happens if my home fails the initial inspection?

Your home will be inspected by the housing agent prior to the section 8 tenant moving in. This inspection is to make sure your home meets quality standards. If they inspect your home and you don’t pass, you have 30 days to make repairs and adjustments. At that point your home will be inspected again to make sure it means safety and sanitary qualifications.

For additional information on section 8, check out our other blog on the topic! 

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Hey guys, Adam Manley here, business development manager at Good Life Property Management. Today we’re going to be learning a little bit about and talking about Section 8, some of the things you’re going to need to know about and some of the frequently asked questions we get about the program. So let’s start with what is Section 8? Section 8 is a government-backed program that allows prospects that qualify and are approved for the program to be able to rent properties throughout the greater San Diego area. Typically the government will cover about 70% of the rent for the property, leaving the tenant to be responsible for the other 30%. What is the new ruling for housing assistance? So back in the summer of 2018, the City Council voted that we can no longer as property managers or landlords discriminate against those who have Section 8 vouchers as a form of housing income. So what that essentially means to you is that you need to open the property up to any Section 8 applicants as well. And you would no longer be allowed to tell them that the property does not accept Section 8 or that you can’t show them the property because you don’t allow Section 8. Essentially you would have to treat them as any other applicant and include the voucher as part of their housing income, just like someone with a standard paycheck or money in the bank. So one of the most commonly asked questions we’re getting about the Section 8 program is, will the housing commission tell you what you can rent your house out for? So the answer is really yes and no. Ultimately as the owner of the property you are still going to be responsible for pricing your own property, but the housing commission will give you a recommended rent range based on their own analysis. And again, that’s just going to be up to you whether or not to accept that or adjust that based on your own experience with your own property. The other thing to consider also is that if you’re planning on increasing the rent with a tenant that’s on Section 8, you do need to give them 60 day notice and submit an application to the housing commission about your intent to raise the rent at that particular property. The other thing to keep in mind also is that you can’t raise the rent for a non Section 8 tenant more than you could for a tenant that was on Section 8 just to let’s say get them out of the property for example. Another really commonly asked question we’re getting is how do I get paid? So the housing commission will direct deposit their portion of the check directly into your bank account on the due date of the rent. The rest from the tenants portion will be collected through whatever standard forms of rent that you accept whether that be check or if you have some type of online portal for the tenant to access and you’ll just collect that as normal. If the rent is late, you can still enforce normal late penalties as per your lease agreement with the tenant and everything stays the same in that regard. Another great question is can I ask for a security deposit? And again, the short answer is yes. Section 8 tenants are just going to be like every other tenant. So you can’t ask a normal security deposit amount. Generally good life we require equal to about one month’s rent. One thing to keep in mind is that you cannot charge a Section 8 tenant more than a security deposit just because they are using the voucher as part of their income. So something good to keep in mind there. Do the Section 8 vouchers expire? That’s another really great question. And again, the short answer is no, they don’t. The tenants can essentially remain on this program indefinitely as long as they are following the rules outlined by the housing commission. And all of the terms of the lease agreement. They can if they start, you know, if they get a really great job and start making sufficient income, they can leave the program at that point. But as long as they are following those things that I mentioned, they can stay on the program indefinitely. A lot of landlords are wondering if tenants on Section 8 can be evicted. And just like any other tenant you can move forward with the eviction process starting with the three day notice once the rent payment is delinquent. The only caveat here is you do also need to notify the housing commission of your intent to start the unlawful detainer process if you plan on evicting a tenant under the Section 8 voucher program. There is also an inspection process as part of the Section 8 voucher program. And it starts with an initial inspection. With this, a representative from the housing commission will come out to your property and inspect it, make sure it is habitable and safe for the incoming tenant. If your home fails this inspection, you have 30 days to repair or fix whatever was identified in that inspection or else they have to come back and start that process again. There is also a yearly inspection in the property where the member from the housing commission will come back to just try and keep up with some of those things that are related to habitability and make sure that the property is operating in the condition that it should be. Those are just a few of the really good questions and answers that we’ve been talking about with regards to Section 8 but we have a ton of great information on the subject. So if you’re interested in learning more, check out some of our blogs.