A landlord in California has no obligation to rent to a Section 8 tenant. Rather, the law prohibits a landlord from discriminating against applicants with Section 8 vouchers. The landlord is obligated to accept the vouchers as a source of income and cannot reject those using the vouchers out of hand.

Under SB 329 and SB 222, all landlords in California are required to accept Section 8 and VASH vouchers and other forms of rental assistance and to consider them as part of an applicant’s income.

Benefits of Doing Business with Section 8 Housing

  • The owner retains full control over the screening and selection process. The Housing Authority does not screen families for suitability. At the owner’s request, if the information is available, the Housing Authority will provide the names and addresses of the family’s current and one prior landlord.
  • The Housing Authority maintains a policy of “Zero-Tolerance for Drug-related and Violent Criminal Activity.” A family’s Section 8 rental assistance may be terminated for breach of the policy. In addition, those who violate the Housing Authority’s zero tolerance rules may be referred to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s office for possible prosecution.
  • As with any other tenant, Section 8 HCV assisted families can be evicted by the owner for lease violations. The eviction process is determined by state law, not Section 8 regulations.
  • The owner may collect a full security deposit, up to the maximum permitted by state and local laws. Under California law, this is limited to twice the contract rent for an unfurnished unit and three times the contract rent for a furnished unit. The owner has the same rights to legal action against a tenant who leaves damages beyond the security deposit collected as for any other tenant as allowable by California State law.
  • Once a HAP contract has been fully executed, the Housing Authority guarantees its payment to the owner, as long as the family remains in residence and the unit meets HQS. This ensures that the rent is affordable to the family.
  • The owner may request market rate rent for new contracts. Rents may equal, but not exceed, other comparably sized and equipped units in the area. Note: the program limits the total rent amount for each Section 8 participant. The limits are based on income and family size.
  • The Section 8 HCV program allows for rent increases. The owner may request a rent increase once each year after the initial term of the lease at the participant’s annual reexamination to compensate owners for inflationary costs of operation and maintenance (as long as the rent remains reasonable when compared to other comparable unassisted units of the same size).

Facts About Section 8 Families

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Families participating in the Section 8 HVC Program are:

  • Responsible for finding a suitable housing unit.  The Housing Authority does not place families in any specific unit.
  • Not screened by the Housing Authority:  Owners are responsible for screening their prospective residents.  
  • Responsible for their own conduct and the conduct of their guests.  The owner needs to enforce the provisions of the lease.
  • Subject to HUD and Housing Authority rules and regulations.  The Housing Authority will take appropriate action to ensure program integrity.
  • Subject to termination from the program if they engage in drug-related or violent criminal activity. Any family that engages in drug-related criminal activity or violent criminal activity may be terminated from the program.  In the event that the family’s assistance is terminated under these circumstances, the lease will still be in effect.  Should the owner want the tenant to vacate the unit, appropriate legal action must take place.  Information regarding a verifiable drug-related or violent criminal activity by a HCV assisted family should be directed to the Housing Authority.

 

For more information, please visit https://www.hud.gov/states/california.  

Read more articles from the March edition of the AOA Magazine