Explanation of a Section 8 Eviction
Although Section 8 is a beneficial low-income housing program, it does not relieve tenants of their responsibilities to properly care for their property or pay their portion of the rent on time. What makes Section 8 housing a little difficult, especially when it comes to an eviction, is that there are different regulations for different programs. There are some low-income subsidized evictions that could put a landlord's program status at risk. Most Section 8 programs have certain rules and regulations that must be followed in order to properly obtain an unlawful detainer. Keep in mind that there are often increased protections in place, so the legal costs of such an eviction may outweigh the benefits. In general, however, the process of a Section 8 eviction is fairly straightforward.
Section 8 Tenants Receive No Special Protections
One of the most common issues seen in the Section 8 program is that a landlord fails to maintain the building or premises to the mandated condition of the program. When this occurs, there is a possibility that the local public housing authority will reduce the amount of the subsidy that is paid monthly for the unit. In response, some landlords then demand the missing portion from the tenant and start the eviction process when it is not received. Abatement subsidy reductions are part of the agreement that is signed when a landlord joins the Section 8 program. If they are in violation of terms and receive a subsidy reduction, the duty of the tenant is to continue paying their portion of the rent. If the tenant portion of the rent cannot be paid on-time, then a landlord or their agent does have the ability to file for an eviction.
Section 8 Vouchers Can Be Terminated Upon Eviction
Tenants have a lot to lose if they are evicted from their home. The public housing authority will almost always terminate that household's participation in the voucher program. This gives tenants the incentive to adhere to the terms and conditions of the leasing agreement. A Section 8 eviction can be started for any violation of the lease. This includes non-payment of rent [but not a reduction of the subsidy received], criminal behaviors, damage to the rental property, and other violations. An eviction to improve the building is generally not allowed, but this varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. The same notices that are given to all tenants can be given to Section 8 tenants when they are out of compliance. Section 8 tenants must also be given the same opportunities to return to compliance as all other tenants. Holding low-income tenants to different standards could be considered as an act of discrimination.
Landlords Cannot Remove a Section 8 Tenant Without an Order
Landlords are also bound by the same laws in removing a tenant from a property. There must be an unlawful detainer filed before the courts and a court order must be approved for the removal of a tenant in violation. This process varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction and can take anywhere from 21-90 days depending on the circumstances. Only a Sheriff's deputy or designated law enforcement official with a court order for tenancy termination can remove an individual from the premises. Even when a court order for an eviction is in place, there may be a restriction that disallows the forced removal of a person's possessions. There may be a need to store those items at the cost of the landlord, although the cost of those charges may sometimes be applied to a security deposit or a tenancy insurance policy that is held. For Section 8 tenants who are evicted: If the eviction has terminated the voucher, there is an appeal process in place unless the authorized eviction occurred because of criminal acts. Contact your public housing authority immediately if rent cannot be paid and send all communication to the landlord so they are kept in the loop. The first notification of being out of compliance with the terms and conditions of a lease can happen at any time. Do not delay this notification for any reason. Deliver it in a certified manner so that there is proof of delivery according to local landlord-tenant laws and any Section 8 stipulations that may be in place. Then follow each eviction step according to local laws as with any other non-program tenant and the Section 8 eviction will be successful.
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