Best Property Manager in Fairfax Virginia walks landlords through what to consider before renting their Fairfax rental home to a tenant on a section 8 or housing assistance voucher. There are certainly pro's and con's with accepting tenants with a Section 8 or public assistance voucher. First, we will discuss what these vouchers are. When a tenant has a Section 8 or Public Assistance voucher, it means that they qualify for rent assistance through another entity. These entities can range from Government entities, private entities, or non-profit charities. Most Section 8 vouchers are provided by government entities such as the County or city Housing Authority. In any case, it means that they have agreed to pay for the tenant's rent (directly paid to the landlord) because of a program the tenant qualifies for. The following are things to look out for as a Landlord considering accepting a Section 8 or Public Assistance Voucher:
- Just because the rent is guaranteed, it doesn't mean the tenant is. Landlord's should still run an application and conduct a full background check as they would for a tenant that is not utilizing a voucher program. Yes, you may receive rent every month; however, if the tenant has a bad track record as a tenant with other landlords, you may want to consider passing on them. The damage or headache caused by a bad tenant may not be worth the rent.
- Get the full details on how much the voucher will cover. It’s great if the voucher cover's the full amount of rent you are asking. However, if the voucher doesn't cover the full amount, you will want to find out if the tenant can pay the difference. If so, you will certainly want to make sure the tenant can pay the difference via an application and screening process (see previous point).
- Voucher payments may take a long time for the first rent payment. It can take up to 30-90 days to get your first rent payment from the program. That said, you need to verify if the tenant is responsible for making rent payments until the first rent payment is made by the program, if not, then you will want to make sure there will be back rent paid. Additionally, you will want to make sure you have enough in reserves to cover your mortgage until you start receiving rent.
- Make sure you are still collecting a security deposit from your tenant before they move in. In most cases a voucher program will NOT cover a tenant's security deposit.