This summer has already been crazy with rentals! We have had so many tenants either transferring jobs, or purchasing houses and so many vacancies all at once. We are just trying to keep up!
The idea of 9 families moving within a 30-60 day period is amazing. So far anything that became available for rent has been rented right away. So the rental market is still hot.
For the first time in 2 years, I actually have a rental list to email to people!
There have been many inquiries about whether or not we accept section 8 vouchers. The simple and quick answer is yes, we do. As a company, Home Team Property Management and Berkshire Hathaway HS Home Team Realty does accept section 8. In fact we have a few tenants on the program. What about the not as simple answer, well, for that you’d have to ask if we have any available homes that will accept section 8 vouchers.
While we do have several rental homes available, only one of the owners showed any interest in using the program. So many prospective tenants have been distraught over the lack of houses available and have taken their frustrations out on me, but truthfully, it is not up to me. “Why wouldn’t you take it, I’m a good tenant, I won’t destroy the place and it’s immediate guaranteed rent.” This is normally what I hear. What the prospective tenant doesn’t understand is it is first and foremost up to the owner of the house. In fact, the owners have to sign notorized documents stating that they agree to the program and all of its stipulations.
Once Ocala Housing Authority receives those documents (which in my experience they normally lose or ‘don’t receive’ multiple times in the course of the following weeks) the house also must be inspected by Ocala Housing Authority to make sure it meets their standards for housing. Between scheduling it and actually having it done, this can take several weeks. In the meantime, the owner is losing rent money. They don’t like that.
Once all is accomplished, the tenant is approved (they still have to submit a rental application and pay the security deposit) the house has passed the inspection, the rent is set up through OHA, we are all set, right?
Well, sort of. What happens if the amount that OHA agrees to pay of the rent is not the full amount? Sometimes, they only subsidize the rent. Which means the tenant has to pay $75 dollars and OHA pays $700 for the rent of $775 for an example. OHA periodically verifies that the tenants income is still the same, if it has gone up, then the voucher amount goes down. The rent amount stays the same, but we now have to look to the tenant to pay a portion. They don’t always do that. It is also incredibly difficult to do an eviction since we have still received a portion of the rent. Not impossible, just difficult.
If you think OHA will help at all with a difficult tenant, you are very much mistaken. One good thing to know: if you successfully evict a tenant on the program, they are not eligible to receive it again for 4 to 5 years, which is a helpful incentive for them to pay their portion in a timely manner.
Do not misunderstand, I am not anti-section 8 vouchers or HUD program. It can be an awesome program and for some people that get in a temporary tight spot, it is amazingly helpful. I have also recommended it to a few people over the years since it was something they could truly benefit from. But I am kind of annoyed by all of the people telling me it’s immediate guaranteed income and that I just don’t know enough about it…it’s not and yes, I do. Nothing is guaranteed, and it is definitely not immediate. I have been doing this long enough to know exactly what is involved and be able to state the facts of the matter as I have experienced them.
One thing I can say, once you have a tenant with a section 8 voucher in an approved house they will not up and move out at the drop of a hat. In fact, they will normally be there for several years, since the process is so lengthy when they want to move. Once the tenant has been through the process once, they are not too eager to put themselves through all of that again anytime soon.
For any tenants out there that are considering applying for section 8 vouchers; If you are having a hard time paying your rent, this can be a good option. My recommendation would be to go ahead and apply at the OHA, then approach your current landlord about getting the house you are already residing in approved by OHA. It is much easier to have a landlord accept the program vouchers when they won’t be losing out on rent waiting for the process since you will still be paying the rent in the interim. If the house doesn’t pass inspection, or the landlord won’t even consider it, then you are already approved, look for a house that has already been approved through the OHA first, since that is a much quicker and easier process for everyone.
If none of that works, calling every house that is currently available and asking if they accept section 8 vouchers will work, but please do me a favor and don’t take out your frustration on the property manager (namely: me) especially since, when an owner does decide to accept the vouchers…I’m the one that will be helping you through the process.
Andrea Proeber is now a Broker Associate! She has been a Realtor in Marion County for over a decade and specializes in long term real estate investing and property management.