Below are questions asked by rental property owners regarding California property management and Section 8 tenants followed by answers provided by the law firm of Simone and Blevins.
Q: I recently accepted a tenant with a Section 8 housing voucher. This Section 8 tenant has a lease until December 2023. I do not think I want to continue renting to this tenant because the neighbors have been complaining that they throw loud parties and fight in the common areas in the middle of night. Once the lease expires, can I serve the tenant a 60-day notice without cause?
A: No, according to Civil Code 1954.535 a landlord that “terminates or fails to renew a contract or recorded agreement with a governmental agency that provides for rent limitation to a qualified tenant … shall be given at least 90 days’ written notice.” Additionally, Section 8 contracts require cause to terminate. You should always review your Section 8 contract carefully to ensure that you have a valid cause for termination, which can be found in the Tenancy Addendum of your Section 8 contract. Additionally, you should consult with an attorney about whether local rent control laws also apply. You must clearly state the cause for termination in your notice so that the tenant is aware of the reason for termination. Remember to serve both the tenant and Section 8 representative with the notice.
Q: My Section 8 tenant is offering to pay me more rent than is stated in their rent portion letter because they do not want me to terminate their tenancy. Am I allowed to accept additional rent from the tenant more than what Section 8 has approved?
A: No, you cannot implement a rent increase without receiving approval from Section 8. If your tenant is on a month-to-month agreement, then you may increase the rent. However, you must give proper notice before the rent increase is effective. The proper way to increase a Section 8 tenant’s rent is to serve the tenant with a notice to increase the rent and submit the notice to Section 8 for approval. Additionally, it is important to read your Section 8 contract and contact your tenant’s Section 8 representative to make sure you are complying with Section 8’s rental increase process.
Q: One of my tenants that is on Section 8 recently started a new job. Shortly after the new job began, I received a letter from their Section 8 representative stating that the household no longer meets the income requirements and that their assistance is being terminated at the end of this month. Since the remaining tenants are no longer receiving Section 8 assistance does that mean they must vacate?
A: No. If the tenant’s Section 8 was canceled, then the tenant is responsible for the full amount of rent. You may serve a 3-day notice to pay rent or quit to the tenant for the full amount of rent if they fail to pay it. If the tenant pays their rent and you want to determine your options to terminate the tenancy you should consult an attorney.
Q: My neighbor told me that the rent caps and just cause requirements of the California Tenant Protection Act of 2019 (AB 1482) does not apply to Section 8 tenants. Is that true?
A: It depends, the California Tenant Protection Act of 2019 (AB 1482) does not apply to “housing restricted by deed, regulatory restriction contained in an agreement with a government agency, or other recorded document as affordable housing for persons and families of very low, low, or moderate income.” The exact meaning of the above exemption has not been made clear. While there are arguments that Section 8 tenancies are exempt from AB 1482, there are just as many that they are not. Currently, the most conservative approach is to raise the rent within the AB 1482 rent caps unless the property is exempt for another reason.
Q: My neighbor has a for rent sign in her front yard of her property. The sign says that they do not rent to Section 8 tenants. I thought California passed a law making it illegal to refuse to rent to Section 8 tenants. Is that correct?
A: Yes, you cannot refuse to rent to Section 8 tenants. Effective January 1, 2020, landlords with properties in the state of California cannot refuse to rent to a prospective tenant or terminate a tenancy based only on the tenant’s source of income, including rental assistance from programs like Section 8. A landlord is required to consider all Section 8 payments or any other assistance program payments as part of the prospective tenant’s annual income. Also, it is illegal to advertise that you do not take Section 8 tenants. Landlords can still screen applicants according to lawful screening practices.
The law firm of Simone & Blevins has been doing evictions for over 28 years. The office is open Monday – Friday from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM. Tel: 619-235-6180, website: www.landlordslegalcenter.com or email [email protected]