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What is Section 8 Housing Assistance, and is it appropriate for your OKC Rental Property?

(Updated 9/7/2020)

This article will tell you what the Section 8 housing program in Oklahoma City is.  And, a little about whether it may be appropriate for you or not to get a Property Management company involved (i.e., Property Management Okc section 8).

What is the Section 8?

Section 8 is a public housing program funded by the federal government through the department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).  It provides assistance to tenants who can prove their financial need.  There is an inspection program to insure that any units under this program can meet minimum HUD housing standards.  The largest Section 8 housing agencies in Oklahoma City are the Oklahoma Housing Finance Agency (OHFA) and Oklahoma City Housing Authority (OCHA).

The advantage of the program is that the money provided to the owner is guaranteed by the federal government. But, there are limits to what the units can rent for.

So if you have a 2 bedroom house that could rent for $900 per month on the open market, you may not want to rent out Section 8 knowing that you are topped out at $700 or so per month.  Or, if you have a 2 bedroom home that you are going to have to spend $15,000 to bring up to minimum standards, you may not want to lease it Section 8.

But there are many properties in bread and butter neighborhoods that make perfect section 8 rentals, particularly if they are older but not that old, and rent for close to the maximum allowable rates for under the section 8 program.

The Section 8 program can be very, very good for owners.

Let me give the example of “Linda”, an elderly tenant who has been in a client’s property ever since we took over management of the property more than ten-years ago.

If there is drama in her life, we don’t see it.  She’s like the aunt you wish you had.  I can’t remember even one time when she’s been the least bit disagreeable.

It almost goes without saying that she takes excellent care of the property.  And correspondingly, we take good care of her.

She doesn’t create maintenance problems by doing things like pouring grease down the sink.  And when there is a maintenance issue, we hop right on it!

We’ve never had to charge her with one single maintenance call because she doesn’t create problems.  And when we’ve ad maintenance to do at her property, she’s been patient with us when we’ve had to do repairs to her unit.

So what we have is a tenant who has been in the property for more than ten years, and shows no sign of leaving anytime soon.

That is a staggering amount of rent!

And, that the money comes straight from the government, so Linda has never presented us with a collections challenge.

It’s actually pretty simple.

As long Linda and the property stay within the guidelines of the housing program, the landlord is going to get paid from the government.  Linda also has a portion to pay, and she’s going to pay that portion so that she doesn’t screw up her housing.

It’s a pretty effective incentive.  As you can see, this is very beneficial from the landlords point of view.

Here is the dark side of Section 8.

You can’t just accept every single housing voucher that comes in the door.  My company, Property Management Okc Plus,  screens every section 8 recipient’s application just like any other applicant.

Every once in while you’ll wind up a housing voucher we have to turn down because of the person’s rental or credit history.  These are the people who’s bad habits overwhelm the fear they have over loosing their housing voucher.

It’s the tenant who moves in three pit bulls when their lease says no pets.

Or, it’s the one who never bothers to pay their $13 portion, and therefore accumulates month after month of late fees.  After three months, they suddenly owe close to $200 because they failed to pay $39 in rent.

It’s the resident who doesn’t report leaks resulting in $500 damage rather than a $25 repair.

But even when you move in a section 8 tenant who is difficult, there are some things that can be done.

The Section 8 program requires that the tenants take responsibility for problems they cause (in most cases).

I haven’t found a tenant yet who wants to pay for repairs, but when you don’t put your foot down that tenant will walk all over you.  Yes, there will be wailing and gnashing of teeth.  There will be cries of how unfair…and why it wasn’t really their fault.

And, you may not get paid for those repairs.  But sometimes you have to chose between making repairs, or moving the tenant out.  Because one this is for sure:  If the housing inspection doesn’t pass because repairs are done, the payments from housing to the owner will stop.

For example, I had a section 8 tenant who flushed a bunch of turkey bones down the toilet during Thanksgiving.

That’s right, BONES down the drain.  It caused all sorts of problems beyond just the fact that the tenant couldn’t use her toilet.  Five adjacent units couldn’t use theirs, either.  And, the flooding in ALL the unit was a definite drawback.

Guess what?  That tenant got charged for all the plumber’s work and all the clean up.  It was more than $500, but they sure enough paid for it.  As a landlord, you can’t ask for much more.

If you are wondering if Section 8 is right for you, here are few items to consider.

How about Oklahoma City Section 8 rents?

Section 8 rents are supposed to be in line with market rents.  There are allowable ranges.  That means every OKC metro area neighborhood may not be amenable to Section 8.

For example, a typical nice 1 bed apartment in many parts of Oklahoma City metro area rents for $500-$600.  The typical rent for a 2 bed house in the Oklahoma City metro is $600-$750, and rent for a 3 bed house is $750-$950.  A 4 bed house is typically in the $850 to $1,100 per month.  A tenant with a voucher for a property in those rental ranges should be able to get rental assistance.

The tenant’s income sometimes puts a cap on the rent which is lower than the allowable Section 8 rent.  Allowable rents are based upon rental comps for the neighborhood.

In that case, the landlord can decide if she will accept the rent or not.

So it should go without saying that not every property CAN go section 8.  There are some more expensive units, for example, a $1,400 per month 3-bedroom home, that’s not going to qualify for the program.

There is an inspection process.

The unit has to pass a HUD inspection.  The basic premise is that everything in the unit must be in working order.

For example, your property cannot have pealing paint, air coming in at doors and windows, crack or openings in the house.  The property must have operating appliances.  In short, it must be move-in ready.

There are a whole list of do’s and don’ts when it comes to the condition of the property. For a property that has been newly rehabbed, it’s usually a cinch to get it through a section 8 inspection.

The thing is, all of the items on the inspection list are completely reasonable.

These are items that would need to be done anyway to keep the home in good repair.

It’s not everyone’s cup of tea.

Section 8 is not for every landlord.

Our Property Management OKC Section 8 Success Program

If it seems like I know a thing or two about the Oklahoma City Section 8, there’s a reason for that.

About 1/3 of the properties Property Management OKC Plus leases are currently on Section 8.  And, we have a program called Property Management OKC Section 8 Success that helps our owns to make money through the program.  

Many OKC property management companies flat refuse to deal with section 8 in Oklahoma City because of all the hassles.

The Property Management OKC Section 8 Success program includes the accounting, leasing, and management aspects.  

Property Management OKC Section 8 Accounting: We carefully track payments from housing.  We have a direct line of communication with OCHA and OHFA when there is an issue with payments.  

Property Management OKC Section 8 Leasing: Section 8 properties are listed on the sites that gain the most traction with tenants who have housing vouchers and are looking for properties to lease.  

Property Management OKC Section 8 Unit Preparation: We have a checklist of items to do in order pass a Section 8 housing inspection.  Obviously, the maintenance technician is also an important member of the Property Management OKC Section 8 team.

Property Management OKC Section 8 Inspections: We have a leasing agent from our team and maintenance technician at housing inspections.  That way, we can make last-minute repairs in order for a property to pass inspection that might not have otherwise.  Many time, we pass housing inspections the first time, but Property Management OKC Section 8 can’t promise every inspection will pass the first time.  To find out how we are doing that, Click here to find out how.

Property Management OKC Section 8 Collections: If the tenant is not making their portion of the payment, our team has a procedure to get movement on that.  We don’t want to evict tenants, but if forced to, we will.  Of course, Covid-19 has slowed down the process of evictions.  Our eviction attorney is also an important payer on our Property Management OKC Section 8 team.  

Property Management OKC Section 8 Admin: There is a good deal of paperwork to keep tabs on to keep the rents rolling in.  We have a very experienced Property Management OKC Section 8 team to follow up on items that need attention, such as making sure that inspection repair items are completed within the allotted timeframes.  

If it’s a property that a little tired, you may end up with a very long list of repairs as a result of the inspection. On the one hand, the last thing you want to do is spend a fortune on the property.  If you’d like to find more about that, you can contact a member of our Property Management OKC Section 8 team.  

On the other hand, you may want to bring the property up with those repairs regardless because a property that doesn’t have issues tends to retain tenants longer term.  You’ll also spend a lot less money on maintenance because these items will be fixed.  The Property Management OKC Section 8 team can give you an idea of how much repair expense you might potentially be looking at.  

Frequently Asked Questions about Property Management OKC Section 8

How long does it take the Property Management OKC Section 8 team to find a tenant?

It depends upon the property. You should allow at least 30 days from the day in which the property is ready to rent?

How long does it take to get an housing inspection scheduled for a tenant who has an Oklahoma City housing voucher?

Once the Property Management OKC Section 8 team receives a housing voucher, it usually takes 2 to 3 weeks for the agency to schedule their inspection.

Can the Property Management OKC Section 8 assist with getting a property ready for a housing inspection?

Yes. We can also provide costs for making the property ready for section 8 at any point along the way.

This post first appeared on OKC Property Managment, please read the originial post: here

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What is Section 8 Housing Assistance, and is it appropriate for your OKC Rental Property?


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