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How to Become a Section 8 Landlord in Washington, D.C.

The prevalence of Section 8 housing is growing within D.C. and surrounding suburbs. Changing laws may increase the amount of affordable housing in the area, which is why it’s a good idea to learn more about what that means for you as a landlord. Read on to learn what to expect when trying to become a section 8 landlord in Washington DC.

What is Section 8 Housing? 

Section 8 housing is the collective term for the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) Housing Choice Voucher program. The program assists people across the country that need help with some of all of their rent. A property needs to be certified by HUD to qualify. Most properties aren’t required to take vouchers, but some choose to due to the perceived benefits.

In rare cases, the voucher program covers the entirety or rent, but more commonly, a tenant will still be responsible for 30-40% of the rent on average, according to PropPublica. There are four requirements a tenant applying for a Housing Choice voucher must-have. These include:

Family Status – A tenant must qualify for HUD’s definition of a family. The family description, as explained on their website, includes:

  • Being with or without children
  • One or more household members has a disability
  • Someone 65 or older is part of the household
  • The family has been displaced
  • The tenant remains in the home after the family moves out and was previously receiving section 8 as a household
  • A single individual that doesn’t meet any above information

Income – Income to receive a housing voucher must qualify as low as the program is designed to help those financially struggling. There are three ways HUD determines how much money a household will receive as assistance:

  1. Low-income: Makes 80% of the area’s median income
  2. Very low-income: Makes 50% of the area’s median income
  3. Extremely low-income: Makes 30% of the area’s median income

Anyone above 80% of the median income in the area is not eligible for Section 8 housing.

Eviction History – Those that have been evicted in the past three years for drug-related crime or have been convicted of producing methamphetamine while receiving housing assistance will not be eligible.

Citizen Status – Must be able to prove that the tenant is a U.S. citizen or eligible immigrant status.

Pro and Cons of Accepting Section 8 Vouchers at Your DC Rental Property 

There are pros and cons to every type of leasing, and that includes Section 8 leasing. It is essential to know these and weigh them before going forward with becoming a Section 8 landlord. Pros and cons of voucher housing:

Pros: 

  • Guaranteed Rent: The government generally pays a majority of the tenant’s rent. Therefore, worrying about rent collection will be less of a concern. Tenants are aware that they are still required to pay their portion of the rent, or they will be at risk of being evicted.
  • Long-Term Tenants: The waitlist for housing vouchers can be very long – sometimes years. As well, there are fewer properties that accept Section 8 vouchers than not. Therefore, Section 8 tenants generally stay long-term, which means you are less likely to have frequent and costly vacancies.
  • Shorter Vacancy: Accepting Section 8 vouchers is a great way to fill vacancies. Sites like GoSection8.com are rental sites dedicated to helping prospects find available housing.

Some other pros include; free yearly inspections, less paperwork for you as a landlord, and timely payments!

Cons: 

  • Rent Controlled: This type of housing is rent-controlled. Therefore, HUD needs to improve rental rates and increases based on historic rent tables for the area.
  • Red Tape: Due to the government’s process and a massive amount of applications coming in, there is a long waitlist and a lot of red tape. Therefore, the approval process for tenants may take a lot longer than your standard screening.

How Do I Become a Section 8 Landlord in D.C. 

Are you still interested in becoming a section 8 landlord in D.C.? Keep reading! The following information comes from the D.C. housing website:

  • Advertise housing with DCHA, which is free and easy. Just include “we welcome voucher holders” in the advertising copy.
  • Screen applicants and obtain their Request for Tenancy approval packet, which contains all the needed documents you’ll need for the HCVP leasing department.
  • Schedule a certified inspection through the housing department
  • Once the property passes, the inspection and all documents are signed, the tenant, landlord, and DCHA will meet to finalize the move. A direct deposit is set up during this time.

Are you a landlord looking to turn your Washington, DC investment property into section 8 housing? Contact a Washington, DC property management company to help cut through the red tape and get started today. The team of highly skilled property managers at Bay Property Management Group Washington, D.C. will help with everything from getting your property on the market to finding the right section 8 tenant for your rental property.