Working with Section 8 tenants can take a small learning curve, but is a very worthwhile and financially rewarding way to ensure high occupancy in your rentals. One thing that some landlords and tenants struggle with when dealing with Section 8 housing is the voucher limits involved in providing vouchers.
To match families with housing that suits their size, vouchers are approved with an alotted number of bedrooms. Because Section 8 rentals are in short supply, these bedroom limitations can further narrow the already limited options for families.
Section 8 voucher limits
Section 8 vouchers are distributed based on the size of a family, and are usually sized according to the number of bedrooms a family needs. This can create a situation where you have a 3-bedroom rental available, but have found the perfect tenant who only has a 2-bedroom voucher limit.
Though this limit exists, it shouldn’t provide any limitations on you as a landlord if you work with some flexibility. If you have a property with the wrong number of bedrooms for your ideal tenant, there are a few simple and easy steps you can take to ensure your property is compatible with a Section 8 Voucher.
If your rental property has too many bedrooms
If you have 3 bedroom unit and have a Section 8 voucher that provides enough rental income for a family, you have the option of removing one of the bedroom doors. This will make the room a common space, and allow your tenants to take the property within the limits of their voucher.
This simple solution will allow you the option of finding a committed, long-term rental for your property with no need for renovations or going outside of Section 8 restrictions. There is one disadvantage to this solution, unfortunately. Depending on local rental rates for your properties, you may not be able to rent for the full value of your property if you adhere to this system. But, it is important that you remember that you still have the option of raising the rent each year as market value dictates, and limit any losses this way.
This is not an option for every landlord, but depending on affordability and local rental rates, is something I consider every landlord to keep in mind.
If your rental property has too few bedrooms
If you are a Section 8 landlord, you may also encounter a situation in which a tenant who has a voucher for a 2- or 3-bedroom property is interested in renting a smaller sized apartment - with only 1- or 2-bedrooms. This request may be surprising, but it is important to keep in mind that Section 8 housing is limited, and some families are so in need of affordable housing that they are willing to forego adequate space.
As a landlord, you are absolutely allowed to rent a smaller unit to a tenant with a 3-bedroom voucher. But, you should keep in mind that the Section 8 Housing Authority will not pay you the full price of a 3-bedroom rental for a property of a smaller size.
If you are comfortable renting a small apartment knowing that it may be crowded, then I encourage you to proceed and work with these tenants, who have so much to gain from finding the housing they need.
They key to success as a Section 8 landlord is to learn the system, and work within it with flexibility for your tenants, and for your potential tenants. This approach allows you to ensure you receive a fair income on your properties while helping out families that can truly benefit from a little compassion and assistance.