Understanding lease terms with Section 8 tenants 2018-12-19 18:24:08

Can I serve my Section 8 tenant with 30-days notice to vacate?

When a tenant signs a lease with you under Section 8, it follows the same rules as a nother lease. Once the initial term has ended, the lease moves to a month-to-month rental under the same leasing conditions. Because these leases operate in the same way that any other would, as a landlord, you do have the right to serve a tenant with 30 days notice to vacate if you’ll be selling the property, or if you plan to use the home for your own family.


If this notice is ignored, you also have the right as a landlord to file for an eviction. But, as a landlord with years of experience in working with Section 8 tenants, I recommend that you take another more practical approach to changing your leases with tenants. These best practices are not required by law, but will make all the difference for the tenants that you house.


Best Practices for Section 8 Tenants and Notices to Vacate


Though you are wthin your legal rights to serve a Section 8 tenant with notice to vacate under circumstances, I certainly do not recommend that you take this approach. Section 8 tenants tend to be financially vulnerable, and Section 8 housing is in short supply. When you give a family 30 days notice to vacate a property, you may be dooming them to homelessness, or forcing them into a situation where their rent doubles as a result of unavailable housing.


As a landlord with years of experience in working with Section 8 tenants, I recommend that you try to plan ahead and provide as much notice as possible when renting to these vulnerable families. If you are planning to take back your home for another purpose, or to sell the property, I recommend that you provide a minimum of 6 to 8 months notice to your existing tenants. This will give your tenants the time to search diligently for a new property, and save the money they need to afford first and last month’s rent.


Some landlords are hesitant to take this approach, as they run the risk of having an empty apartment for a month or two if the tenant is lucky enough to find housing quickly. First, this scenario is fairly unlikely. With a lack of Section 8 housing available, most tenants do need quite a while to secure a new location. Second, if you are able to survive without rental income for a month or two, I recommend that you simply take this risk and provide your tenant with as much notice as possible. This small consideration can truly impact these tenants for months and years to come.


Should I renew my lease with a Section 8 tenant?

Like most standard leases, the lease you provide to a tenant with a Section 8 Voucher will usually be completed on a year-long term. When the end of the first year approaches, it is likely that your tenant will approach you to ask you to sign a new lease for another year. As a Section 8 landlord, you have a few options for proceeding with your tenant.


Each year, under the requirements of Section 8 vouchers, tenants will be required to meet with a caseworker to review their financial situation, the number of people living in their home, and whether they are eligible to maintain their voucher status. If the family has grown, tenants may be eligible for more bedrooms and a larger space, taking the opportunity to grow. If someone has moved out, their qualification for a voucher may change.


As a Section 8 landlord, you have the option to renew the lease for another year, or move to a month-to-month tenancy. There are pros and cons for each option.


Renewing a lease with a Section 8 tenant

You have the option of renewing your lease with a Section 8 tenant for another year, provided that they still qualify, and you are comfortable with proceeding. This year-long lease can be comforting for many landlords, who will know they have guaranteed payment on one of their apartments for a full year. This provides assurance of income, and can be invaluable if you have tenants who you love renting to.


Likewise, many Section 8 tenants have spent years looking for a suitable home for their family, and many will feel comforted by the faith that a landlord puts into their rental situation by signing a year-long lease. Many tenants who find housing through Section 8 tend to rent for long-term, since Section 8 housing can be hard to find, and competitive to secure. Though an additional lease limits the flexibility that a tenant has to move, many are very happy to have found secure housing, and will not want to take advantage of that option.


Moving to a month-to-month tenancy

In some cases, it may be beneficial for the landlord or the tenant to instead move to a month-to-month tenancy agreement. The terms of a month-to-month tenancy apply to Section 8 tenants as they would for any others, and provides a bit more flexibility for both parties. If the tenant is hoping to move away or to secure new housing, it gives them to option of moving while providing only 30 days notice. Likewise, the landlord has the option of providing the tenant with a 30 day notice to vacate if they need their property for family, or if they are planning to sell.


I never recommend that a landlord leave a tenant with only 30 days notice to vacate if the situation can be avoided. But, a month-to-month provides flexibility for both landlord and tenant, and is sometimes a favourable option.


The small considerations you can make for Section 8 tenants allow you to make your income properties something that can truly support the lives of families who are struggling to find their way. I recommend that you provide tentants with as much notice as possible when you might ask them to vacate, regardless of your rights under the law.