An overview of housing vouchers & evicting Section 8 tenants

Whoever came up with the clever phrase that a rising tide lifts all ships clearly didn't have Section 8 housing in mind. In a hot housing market, many landlords are looking to divorce the federal housing voucher program. 

Participation has always been a trade-off between the steady drip payments of guaranteed subsidies, lower turnover among other advantages, and less endearing aspects like reams of red tape, inspections, security deposit collection, and fears of property damage. There are also limits on the amounts the government will pay – here in Los Angeles, there is a $1,600 ceiling, calculated for the LA metro area's “fair market rent,” although two-bedroom apartments are higher than that.

Section 8 Evictions

Although Section 8 benefits low-income individuals, it does not relieve tenants of their responsibilities to pay their portion of the rent on time and exercise proper care for their property. Housing vouchers do not create immunity from eviction for tenants using them, but “good cause" must be present, an ambiguous term we will attempte to define. 

Good cause termination includes the tenant's violation of the terms and conditions of the lease (i.e. non-payment of rent), violations of laws in connection with the occupancy or use of the premises, criminal activity, and other “good cause.” [24 Code of Fed. Regs. §982.310(a)]

Ultimately, state and local ordinances define what is considered “other good cause,” but during the initial lease term (at least one year, unless shortened for good reason by the local public housing agency) “other good cause” may only be based on the tenant's behavior. Disturbing neighbors or destruction or damages of the premises are examples.

After the initial lease term ends

Once the initial lease term ends, landlords can evict a Section 8 tenant for other good causes such as the tenant's failure to accept the offer of a new lease or revision, the owner's intent to use the residence for personal or family use and business or economic reasons, including the sale of the property, renovations or the landlord's desire to lease the unit at a higher rental rate.

Written Notice

If the landlord wants to terminate the tenancy for any reason, he or she must provide the tenant with a written notice of good cause which lays out the specific conduct that is the basis for the termination. This notice may be served with the notice to vacate. The landlord must also provide the local PHA with a copy of the notice to vacate.

If the violation stems from a correctable non-monetary breach of the lease agreement, the three-day notice to perform or quit is appropriate. However, if the tenancy has shifted from a month-to-month tenancy after the initial lease period and the tenant has occupied the unit for more than one year, a 60-day notice to vacate is the appropriate vehicle.

If the landlord desires to terminate a Section 8 lease for non-renewal of a Section 8 contract, a 90-day notice is required.

There are additional rules and regulations if the reason for the termination is a sale of the property due to a foreclosure, a topic we will cover in future posts.

Parting thoughts

Section 8 voucher recipients usually benefit from longer eviction timelines because of their particular status and evicting these tenants usually means a trip to court. Also, landlords need to advise the local housing authority having oversight of Section 8 voucher recipients when they begin the eviction. What constitutes criminal activity is another question that is not so clear-cut.

As you can see, evicting tenants can be highly nuanced but MT Evictions can help you cover all the bases.



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