Many homeowners across the U.S. become subsidized housing landlords each year through the Housing Choice voucher program with HUD (the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development). You might also be aware of the program under its former name, Section 8.
Starting the program seems a little awkward initially because the landlord must find a renter before being enrolled in the program. After the initial setup however, having a Housing Choice renter is really no different than an unsubsidized renter except that the majority of your rental income will come directly from your local HUD office each month. The program works because it affords property owners the flexibility to pre-screen renters, receive consistently reliable rental payments and offer quality housing to an elderly, handicapped or low-income tenant.
Locate your county HUD Housing Authority office. Typically, a new owner's course is mandatory to guide you through all details of the program and how to get set up. Other times, your local office may have an elective class or a workbook to assist you. Most county office websites have downloadable forms, a lease template, guides and resources for advertising your rental property to prospective renters.
Advertise your available property on sites and publications recommended by your local office. Additionally, advertise your listing for free on Craigslist, and if your budget permits, in your community newspaper. Be sure to indicate you accept Section 8 or the Housing Choice Voucher program.
Screen prospective renters' income, employment, credit and rental history. You can choose your tenant freely ensuring you follow Fair Housing law for non-discriminatory rental practices. The tenant you choose must already be approved for the voucher program to receive subsidies.
Complete the landlord's portion of the forms in your prospective tenant's Request for Tenancy Approval packet. You will indicate the property address, your contact information, proposed term and rental amount.
Review the Housing Quality Standards and inspection checklist to ensure your property is compliant while you wait for the local office to contact you to schedule a property inspection.
Sign a lease with your tenant once your property and proposed rental amount has been approved and submit it to your local Housing Authority office.
Sign a Housing Assistance Payments Agreement form with the local office when your lease is submitted. You can designate whether you want a paper check mailed or direct deposit. The agreement will indicate the amount the agency will pay and the amount you must collect from your tenant each month.
Contact the HUD Customer Service Center at (800) 955-2232 x1 for general program assistance by telephone. If you are an investor who is looking to acquire or convert a multi-family structure for subsidized rental, you may qualify for developer-centric property tax credit programs such as LIHTC and HOME.
You may not rent your property to an immediate family member in the Housing Choice Voucher program. If your property does not pass the inspection, repairs must be made before you are approved for the program.