The business of being a landlord isn’t always easy, but Section 8 landlords in Portage County have an ally in the Portage Metropolitan Housing Authority (PMHA). We work together with landlords to ensure that low-income populations have access to clean, affordable housing through the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher program.
The Section 8 program is the federal government’s largest housing assistance program with more than two million participants. We administer this program, but assistance is not tied to a specific housing unit owned by PMHA, as in our Public Housing program. With Section 8, voucher holders can access any number of properties from landlords who have been approved to participate in the program.
What’s it like to be a Section 8 landlord? What kind of support does PMHA offer? Answers to these questions and more are ahead. But first, let’s take a look at some of the misconceptions people have about being a Section 8 landlord.
Misconceptions About Being a Section 8 Landlord
When it comes to being a section landlord, there’s a lot of misinformation out there, and we want to set the record straight. A few of the most common myths about being a Section 8 landlord include:
Myth #1: You Can’t Charge the Same Rent You Would to Non-Section 8 Tenants
Truth: Landlords can charge the same rent they would to any other tenant. PMHA’s job is to determine that the proposed rent is reasonable and is not higher than units in that area with similar amenities. As long as the rent is comparable to other units in the area, you can charge the same amount you would to anyone else. If the rent is too high for certain voucher holders, PMHA may offer a one-time payment in some cases to offset the difference.
Myth #2: Section 8 Landlords Are Responsible for all Damages
Truth: To help compensate Section 8 landlords, under our Moving to Work Programs, PMHA has a limited damage claim incentive for cases where tenancy ends and there is tenant-caused damage to the unit in excess of the security deposit.
Myth #3: Section 8 Landlords Are Responsible for More Maintenance
Truth: Property maintenance is a shared responsibility with Section 8 tenants, similar to any other rental arrangement. With that said, PMHA doesn’t require landlords to do more maintenance than any other landlord would be required to do on a non-assisted unit. Ultimately, we want to be sure everything remains in good condition to keep tenants safe. That’s also the reason Section 8 landlords have to have their property inspected to participate in the program.
Myth #4: Section 8 Tenants Are Problem Tenants
Truth: Section 8 tenants are typically long-term, living in a unit for 7-8 years on average. No documented data or statistics show that Section 8 tenants are any more likely to damage units or not pay rent than other tenants. Section 8 landlords should undertake the due diligence required to avoid problem tenants—Section 8 or otherwise.
Myth #5: You Can’t Evict a Section 8 Tenant
Section 8 tenants are bound by the terms of their rental agreements and are subject to eviction just like any other tenant. If a renter isn’t living up to their end of the bargain, a Section 8 landlord is well within their rights to pursue eviction—and PMHA will support that action. Again, there are too many people waiting for this program to tolerate any abuse of the system. Anyone who doesn’t live up to their contract terms risks being terminated from the program.
How PMHA Supports Landlords
PMHA’s goal is to give participants access to the housing they need to overcome obstacles and become the best version of themselves. Achieving that objective means working hard to support Section 8 landlords whenever the opportunity allows. After all, when we work productively together, we can achieve our respective goals. A few ways PMHA supports Section 8 landlords include:
Section 8 Landlord Incentives
To incentivize landlords to participate in the Section 8 program, under our Moving to Work Plan, we offer new landlords a one-time payment of $1,000 upon the execution of a new contract. We also offer $500 to existing landlords who execute a new contract with a Section 8 voucher holder. Learn more about Section 8 landlord incentives.
Holds Tenants Accountable
PMHA spends a great deal of time educating participants on what is expected of them as tenants. But, helping Section 8 tenants understand what is expected is only one part of the equation. We also make sure tenants hold up their end of the contract and do what is required—pay rent on time, keep the property clean and safe, communicate any issues the landlord needs to be aware of, etc. Anyone who doesn’t live up to what’s expected is at risk of being terminated from the program.
Access to Vetted Tenants
We always encourage Section 8 landlords to thoroughly screen Section 8 tenants as they would any other rental candidate. However, candidates who receive a Section 8 voucher must go through a screening process to ensure they qualify for the program. This includes verifying income, criminal activity, rental history, and other factors.
How to Become a Section 8 Landlord
PMHA offers quarterly landlord orientation sessions, where you can get educated on various topics such as inspections, regulations, and payment information. We also offer a landlord portal that gives 24/7 access to current and past inspection information, payment history, and contact information. If you have any questions, please contact our office. To stay informed about landlord events and other PMHA information, please follow us on our social media platforms.