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3 Common Section 8 Myths Debunked

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As you may or may not know, I am a proponent of Section 8 when it comes to managing income properties despite the fact that, like anything, it has both advantages and disadvantages.  The downsides include the fact that you will have additional paperwork and inspection requirements as a Section 8 landlord, and it often takes a couple months to get set up with the Section 8 office due to some inflexible policies and procedures.

The major advantages include the fact that Section 8 pays the majority of the tenant’s rental income – on time – every month, it is easy to increase the rents annually, turnover tends to be lower, and Section 8 tenants tend to behave better because they do not want to risk losing their assistance voucher. So as you can see, although being a Section 8 landlord has certain disadvantages, I think the pros far outweigh the cons.

Aside from the pros and cons of being a Section 8 landlord, there are some misconceptions out there.  First, many landlords shy away from renting to Section 8 tenants because of their low-income status.  They feel that low-income tenants may be less responsible than higher-income tenants.  However, this is false due to the fact that Section 8 tenants essentially walk on eggshells to avoid losing their precious voucher.

Another myth is that the Section 8 office will help you manage the tenants.  This is false.  Whether the tenant is Section 8 or not, it is always up to the landlord to conduct proper tenant verification, collect and manage landlord security deposits, and if necessary evict the tenant.  Aside from coordinating the initial move-in, the Section 8 office generally maintains a “hands off” approach.

The third myth is that Section 8 will always pay the landlord regardless of the underlying circumstances.  Unfortunately, this is false because Section 8 will pull the plug if they find that the tenant lied on his/her application, if the tenant defaults on his/her agreement with Section 8, or if the tenant’s income level increases to the point where he/she no longer qualifies for assistance.

In the final analysis, I highly recommend being a Section 8 landlord because the pros far outweigh the cons.  However, it is important to be cognizant of the common misconceptions so you do not receive an unwelcome surprise down the road.

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