Are Section 8 Tenants a Viable Option?

If you have been considering the idea of adding section 8 properties to your rental property portfolio, you won’t have a hard time finding any number of experts who will tell you to run the other way. Many will fill you with lamenting tales of woe, of how Section 8 tenants are unreliable, disrespectful, and well, just too darn poor to be decent tenants.

How can anyone justify that type of thinking? Section 8 housing does have its share of issues, but no more or less than any other form of rental properties. The hardest part is dealing with tenants who may have been in section 8 housing for decades yet claim to “not understand” how it works. Then there are the overworked and underpaid housing counselors, annual property inspections, and enough paperwork to sink a battleship.

About That Paperwork

If you can wade through the tons of paperwork and create a reminder system to stay up to date on everything, those government rent checks that come in every month just like clockwork will make it all worth while. Providing you take the time to screen your applicants carefully, you can avoid many of the issues associated with Section 8 housing. Here are a few things you should know:

How Much of the Rent Will Section 8 Cover?

It is not quite as simple as saying Section 8 will cover exactly this much of the rent. The amount of rent covered is based on your areas Fair Market Rent, how much in dollars the 30% of the person’s income adds up to (the tenant must pay a minimum of 30% of their income towards rent).  At the same time, the FMR is intended to cover the person’s total cost of housing (TCH) which includes rent, utilities, waste disposal, water, sewer, and garbage. The amount paid by HUD is 70% of the total of all bills. Once all other bills are paid, the rest is sent to you in terms of a rent check, the tenants must make up the balance owed.

The Section 8 Tenant

One of the biggest complaints you are likely to hear are about how “bad” Section 8 tenants are. The best way to avoid this is to ensure that any Section 8 tenant you are considering, is to ensure they pass the strictest end of your screening process. Be sure you cross all your “t’s” and dot all of your “i’s, “leave no stone unturned (something you should already be doing with all of your tenants). The better your screening process, the easier it will be for you to avoid “bad” tenants.


It can be a royal pain in the *** to qualify as a section 8 landlords, and you have to re-qualify every year. The inspections, the paperwork, the mindless bureaucracy, can be very hard to deal with, but the payoff is more than worth the effort.

The Good Stuff

It is hard to qualify for section 8 housing, meaning prospective tenants have already undergone a background check, meaning that if they have a voucher to give, they have already passed the first muster. However, you should still do your ownscreening.

  • You will never experience a shortage of qualified Section 8 applicants, making it possible to keep your vacancies to a minimum.
  • Because will be able to advertise your vacancies on along with your local housing authority, this will make it much easier to keep your rentals filled.

The best part of all once your tenant moves in, you can count on that government check coming in every month. The check will cover part or all of the rent with the tenant being responsible for any balance. You should also be aware that if they miss a payment, are late with a payment, or violate their lease in any way; they risk being kicked out of the Section 8 program. Where else are you going to find a tenant like this?