A bad experience with Section-8

I have always had a neutral outlook on section-8 tenants and the entire voucher program. Most of the time, they are not the very best tenants, but never really bad either, because there’s the risk that they lose their voucher if they screw up too much.

My opinion is now changing.

I have a tenant who last month did not pay her share (~44%) of the rent on time. Around the 15th, I gave her a 3 day notice and she paid on the 3rd day. The Housing Authority office received a copy of the 3 day notice which is standard operating procedure. The same had happened twice before, each time the office had received a copy, each time the tenant paid on the 2nd or 3rd day.

This time, on the following month, section 8 did not pay their 56% of this tenant’s rent. I noticed this on the 5th. Called the office on the 5th (Wednesday), they said “we thought that she had moved because of your 3 day notice” (they did not apply this logic the other 2 times in the past). I asked “since she’s still living there, when are you going to send the rent?”. “End of this week or early next week”. (Hey, can I pay property tax a few days late since a county office did not pay me timely?)

Today is Thursday, which in my opinion is the last day that remotely qualifies as “early” in a week… and… no funds received.

If a tenant doesn’t pay, you can evict, get a judgment and ding their credit.
What about the Housing Authority?

I had no idea this could happen.

This should be a warning to anyone considering section-8 tenants.



Hmmm, very odd conduct by the Housing Authority (to discontinue their payment portion) without verification and sign off of something happening, like she is transferring to another place. I have had Sec 8 tenants in the past in Oakland and would agree with you that generally it was an ok relationship. For the hassle of the annual inspection you got at least the Authority’s rent payment portion like clock work each month. I agree that the servicing seems to have dropped off dramatically from years past (probably due to budget cuts).

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When dealing with section 8, best idea is to have housing pay 90% or more of the share. So if tenant failed to pay, no problem! Ignore and move on.

Since section 8 tenants are high risk profile, asking them to pay anything more than 10% of fair share is never a very good idea…

Wow, I know people that have done it in Michigan. They prefer section 8 covering 80%+ of the rent. They said it’s guaranteed money, since it’s from the government. I guess that’s not always true.

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I would prefer section-8 to pay 100% of the rent. I had one case where they briefly paid $1847 out of $1850 and the tenant had to pay $3.

The % is not chosen by the landlord. They look at the tenant’s household income and say that 30% of that shall be paid towards rent (and utilities, I think). Then they pay the rest.

It works best if the tenant has a steady, low-paying job. Without motivation to ever get off the section-8 program.
I have some like that.

In this particular case, the opposite happened. Tenant has a low paying job ($2000 a month… $650 go towards rent)… a few months later, income goes to $5000… $1600 go towards rent … then loss of job, unemployment benefit is $1400 a month… $450 go towards rent. The % changes every time that the income changes.
In December, this tenant went from $5000/mo to unemployment, and section-8 has not caught up with increasing their share.

When I ask them why, they say “it is confidential tenant information”.

An issue is that a tenant is probably super quick to report reduced or lost income (to increase the voucher portion of the payment), but “could forget” to report an increase in income. When taxes are filed, it always catches up and then the section-8 people want the overpaid voucher to be returned, rather quickly. This usually happens at a time, when the high income period is over already. You get the idea.

It’s best for them not to look for better paying jobs, because chances are it’s not lasting long.

I do have 1 success story though (out of currently ~12 section-8 families). Rent is $2125, and 5 years ago, the tenant paid $300, section-8 paid $1825. It has gradually changed and now section-8 pays $160, tenant pays almost $2000. They asked me last month if I agree with getting voluntarily off the program. It’s a mom with 3 sons, and as the sons grew up and started working, household income increased.

They said “for $160 a month, it’s not worth all the paperwork and inspections”. Also, I think the mom wants to move her bf in, and then she would lose the voucher any way.


When I tried very first time rental, there were plenty of sec 8 candidates, reviewed horror stories of sec 8, dropped the idea of going for sec 8.

For me,always no sec 8, no pets ! Thanks for sharing.

Seems like you are renting out to an entirely different demographic of section 8 people. In my area, section 8 income hardly ever fluctuate at all. So the housing adjustments to the rent every year is ever so slight.

No, this one tenant is the exception.

The others don’t have aspirations for higher income

It doesn’t pay to earn more money.


Well. I called them again around 12 noon. They could not explain why they still had not issued any payment.
They just called me back. I guess they realized that this had not been processed correctly.

They switched to cover 100% of the rent, going back to March… ACH is in process already.

This is the first hiccup I have experienced in ~8 years of dealing with section-8. It was upsetting, but they made good now.


Naive question, since I have never had any Section 8 tenants.

What neighborhoods do they usually come in? Class B and below? I had one lady asked me about Section 8, but even she knew Sec 8 won’t like on the high rent. So she offered to pay the rest “privately”. It sounds too sketchy and I refused.

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Ok, don’t think too hard. These are just lower income folks who managed to qualify for a government subsidy on their rent. They in theory can use it anywhere (for the most part) in the city/county that they are technically signed up for where an owner is willing to accept the voucher. Obviously, the higher the end of of town or city, the fewer the likelihood that someone would accept the voucher. I am sure some Sec 8 folks are in the Fab 7x7 for example. It just depends on how much they qualify for depending on income and family size and whether they can find someone who wants them at that voucher level.

You have to be careful accepting money"privately" from section 8 tenants. If the governments finds out about it you will have to pay it all back.


For section 8, my concern is actually the neighbors. I was considering section 8 years ago, an angry Latino neighbor threatened me so I dropped the idea for fear of retaliation if I accept a section 8 tenants. When I was considering section 8, almost all the applicants have no jobs and their only income is from welfare, which would mean housing authority will pay almost all the rent.

If I would accept a section 8, can I set a higher income requirement and a steady job requirement? If I can find a section 8 tenant with steady and decent income, most likely they won’t cause troubles for neighbors. I’m most fearful of angry neighbors, especially in good neighborhood. I’m fearful of angry neighbors, and also feel guilty when neighbors are super nice.

How to get a section 8 tenant which the neighbors will not be upset about? I’m ok with late payments, my tenant sometimes pays rent late habitually and sometimes by a month in a row, but they paid all rent eventually. I did not bother with eviction or even 3 day notice after a couple of these late payment episodes. What I really care is no disturbance to neighbors, no obvious downgrade for the neighborhood. It would be really hard to be a landlord when the neighbors are upset about your tenant.

And anyone had section 8 tenant in decent neighborhood? Can neighbors easily tell that your tenant is low income and on section 8? If I rent to section 8 in a good neighborhood, I would keep it a secret. If neighbors know, they might create issues to force the tenant out.

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Please remember that in years past, when the rental market was not as crazy as it is in general now, it may have made good financial sense to go Sec 8 due to the area perhaps or the idea of a guaranteed check every month was needed for your survival/sanity/etc. Keep in mind that in general you can’t just voluntarily leave the program by declaring that you don’t want to participate anymore in the program, say at near contract anniversary. Only the tenant can choose to leave and why would they if they have a nice place and are benefiting from the program’s benefits? At least this is the case for Oakland or Alameda County I believe. Think hard before doing this.

I did have such a situation once. The tenant was on section-8 and it was “one of the finest streets in Santa Cruz”, second street from the ocean, half the houses have ocean view. (Basically all the houses on the southern side of the street.) My house was the nastiest one and I had regular tenants in there for a year or two. Actually a couple from Cupertino, believe it or not. Husband was an apple sw engineer. Then I put a section-8 person there. Oh well.

Move-in was 4/1/2014. After 30 days, I kept getting calls from the neighbors. They called the cops there 2-3 times a week, supposedly drug deals going on. Known fugitives, people with bench warrants etc were supposedly seen on and in my property (but never by law enforcement). The property had an illegal garage conversion that had been rented out as a studio. Lots of people have such studios. My property was red-tagged before July that year. Eviction started 5/1/ and the property was empty ~7/25/. This was a very experienced squatter with legal resources etc etc.

The problem was not so much being section-8. It was a bad tenant. Neighbors literally called me all times of the day “I paid almost 2 million for my home and don’t want to see these types of people here”.
No drugs were ever found by the way.
They did not like to see 90ies Hondas parked between their S-600 and Jags.

The girl, who had signed the lease, had a reasonably clean appearance, job at BofA etc. She had a clean eviction record when I checked her out. But she brought the wrong people in, I guess. And now her record is messed up… eviction and judgment :slight_smile:

So, yes, unless you are in a rent control location, you can get rid of section-8 people.

that’s what they call “just-cause eviction”. I think it’s part of rent control, isn’t it? You cannot get them to move out without reason. And reasons such as “disturbance” may be impossible to prove in court.

Yeah… I don’t see how the neighbors could know if someone doesn’t tell them as long as the person is employed. Otherwise the person needs to look like they have a rich uncle. But i guess cars and clothing might give it away… but if you base it on appearance, then you might think I was on section 8.

Correct. Now, in your jurisdiction can you say I don’t want to participate in the Sec 8 program anymore with Tenant A and at the contract anniversary with the Housing Authority it would in fact end without any issues?

So, first off, I don’t give them an annual lease to begin with. I tell them to their face that I want them to be month-to-month, so that if things don’t work out between us, I can get rid of them before the 12 months are over.

2nd, I don’t say anything about stop participating in section-8 program, neither in general nor for tenant A. I just say that I no longer wish to rent to tenant A.

And yes, in Santa Cruz County, you can just do that. I have some tenants in Santa Clara County too (Sunnyvale, Cupertino), but no section-8 folks there. I had to give someone notice there, but they left without too much of a fight.

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