The Pros and Cons of Becoming a Section 8 Landlord

Discover the intricacies of becoming a Section 8 landlord, a role that offers a unique blend of financial rewards and societal contribution by providing affordable housing to vulnerable populations. This guide delves into the operational framework of the Section 8 program, addressing common myths, highlighting the benefits and potential challenges, and offering a step-by-step approach for property owners.

Gemma Smith
Last Updated
September 22, 2022
The Pros and Cons of Becoming a Section 8 Landlord

The quest to ensure that all citizens have access to adequate and affordable housing has long been a priority for the United States, culminating in various federal programs aimed at supporting those in need. 

Among these initiatives, the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) Program stands out as a key mechanism for bridging the affordability gap for vulnerable populations, including low-income families, the elderly, and the disabled. For landlords, this program offers a unique blend of financial benefits and the opportunity to contribute positively to society.

This guide is designed to explore the multifaceted role of landlords within the Section 8 program. We'll break down the operational framework of the program, debunk prevalent myths, assess the advantages and challenges of participation, and provide a roadmap for property owners interested in becoming Section 8 landlords. Let’s get started!

What is Section 8 housing?

Before we dive into the specifics, it's important to clarify exactly what Section 8 is and landlords' roles in this program.

The Section 8 program, also known as the Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) Program, is a federal initiative administered by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Its primary objective is to provide financial assistance to low-income families, the elderly, and the disabled to afford decent, safe, and sanitary housing in the private market.

Participants can choose any housing that meets the requirements of the program, not limited to units located in subsidized housing projects.

According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, over 5.2 million households use federal rental assistance to afford modest housing. This statistic underscores the program's significant impact on enhancing the quality of life for many by providing access to better living conditions.

The role of landlords in the Section 8 program

Landlords play a key role in the Section 8 program by offering their rental properties to eligible tenants. They must ensure their properties meet health and safety standards as determined by HUD and the local Public Housing Authority (PHA).

Once a property is approved, landlords agree to lease to Section 8 tenants and receive a portion of the rent directly from the PHA, with the tenant paying the remainder.

The program benefits landlords, as it provides a consistent rental income stream and access to a wider pool of potential tenants. Moreover, the PHA's direct involvement often results in prompt and reliable payments.

Debunking common myths about Section 8

Myth: Section 8 tenants are unreliable and more likely to damage the property.

Fact: Many Section 8 tenants are responsible renters. Like any tenant group, individual behavior varies. Landlords still have the right to screen Section 8 tenants, ensuring they choose tenants who meet their criteria.

Myth: Landlords have no control over their property once they rent to Section 8 tenants.

Fact: Landlords retain their property rights and responsibilities, including setting the lease terms, maintaining the property, and enforcing lease conditions. The PHA provides additional oversight but does not interfere with the landlord's property management.

Myth: Section 8 involves too much bureaucracy and paperwork.

Fact: While there is an initial process to become a Section 8 landlord, including property inspections and agreement to certain terms, many landlords find the secure payment stream and tenant support services outweigh the administrative overhead.

For more detailed information and resources, landlords can visit the official HUD website or their local PHA's website. These platforms offer comprehensive guides, forms, and FAQs to assist landlords in navigating the Section 8 program effectively.

Pros and cons of Section 8

The Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher program offers both opportunities and challenges for landlords. As we've seen, landlords can tap into a specific rental market segment by participating, resulting in various advantages when certain obstacles are tackled successfully.

Let's take a closer look:


The benefits of Section 8 apply not only to tenants but also to landlords who choose to participate in the Housing Choice Voucher program:

1. Predictable rental income

One of the biggest perks of accepting Section 8 tenants is that you will receive most of your rent money on time every month. The government usually subsidizes between 40% and 70% of the total rent, giving you peace of mind knowing that that portion of rent will be paid out consistently.

Although the tenant is still responsible for paying the remainder of the monthly rent, if they’re late or delinquent, you won’t be completely devoid of rental income that month.

2. A competitive advantage over other landlords

By accepting Section 8 tenants, you’ll be opening your rental properties to a whole new market. A major benefit of becoming a Section 8 landlord is that you’ll stand apart from your competitors who choose not to accept these tenants.

3. A thorough tenant screening process

Your local PHA requires that tenants undergo pre-screening in order to be accepted into the Section 8 program. They must pass a criminal background check, a drug test, and have their income verified.

If you’re still worried about the risks associated with accepting Section 8 tenants, remember that you can conduct additional tenant screening yourself, just as you would for any tenant.

4. Reduced vacancy rates

Section 8 rentals typically have a waiting list, with potential tenants ready to apply when a home becomes available. Consistent demand means your tenant turnover is usually low when you become a Section 8 landlord.

Because Section 8 applicants can be on a waiting list for a year or more, they're likely to stay for a longer period of time once they secure housing. A relatively low tenant turnover rate makes rental incomes more predictable and profitable for landlords.

5. Minimal advertising needed

Many PHAs offer a free website to advertise eligible rental units. As a result, landlords benefit from reduced marketing costs, knowing their properties are well-promoted to reach tenants looking for a home.


Before you sign up to become a Section 8 landlord, let’s take a look at some of the hurdles you may encounter.

1. You’ll encounter some government bureaucracy

One of the disadvantages of becoming a Section 8 landlord is that you need to be approved by your local PHA. To be accepted, your rental units will be inspected, and you'll need to ensure that your rental rate aligns with the average prices of other properties in your area, among other requirements and paperwork.

2. You'll have to set a fair market rate for rent

If you’re focused on high-value properties in wealthy areas, Section 8 may not be for you. To be approved as a Section 8 housing provider, you may only charge a certain amount for fair market rent. Check the HUD website to find the fair market rents for your area.

3. Other tenants or neighbors may discriminate

Tenants or neighbors who don't require rental assistance may not like being in the same housing community as those who do. If you own a multifamily property, be sure to screen tenants yourself and make every effort to maintain your property value to prevent issues.

If the property remains quiet, safe, and well-maintained, non-Section 8 tenants are less likely to complain.

4. Your property will undergo regular inspections

Renting to Section 8 tenants means your property will have to be inspected before every new tenant moves in. Even if there has been no tenant turnover, local public housing agencies will send out an inspector at least once a year, as well as any time a tenant reports a health or safety issue.

If any deficiencies are found, you will be responsible for fixing them by a certain date, after which your unit will go through another inspection. 

How to become a Section 8 landlord

Becoming a landlord in the Section 8 or Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) Program can be a rewarding opportunity to provide quality housing to individuals and families while receiving stable rental income. Here's a step-by-step guide on how to navigate this process:

1. Contact your local Public Housing Authority (PHA)

Your journey begins with reaching out to your local PHA, which administers the Section 8 program in your area. The PHA can give you an overview of the process, including how to list your property and the specifics of working with voucher holders. 

You can find your local PHA's contact information on the HUD website. This step is key for understanding local demand, rent standards, and the advertising avenues available for your rental units.

2. Select a tenant

Once you're in touch with the PHA, you'll have the chance to rent to eligible families admitted to the HCV program. You're responsible for selecting and approving tenants based on your rental criteria

When you find a suitable voucher holder, you'll need to complete their Request for Tenancy Approval Form. The rent you propose must be reasonable compared to similar units in the area and in line with what unassisted tenants pay to ensure fairness and compliance.

3. Ensure housing meets minimum standards

Before a voucher holder can move in, your property must pass an inspector's Housing Quality Standards (HQS) inspection. The HQS is designed to ensure that all homes rented to voucher holders are decent, safe, and sanitary. 

There are thirteen main performance requirements ranging from sanitary facilities, water supply, and food preparation areas to smoke detectors, space and security, and thermal environment. To qualify for housing assistance payments, your property must meet these standards at the beginning of and throughout the tenancy.

4. Sign the lease and housing assistance payments (HAP) contract

After selecting a tenant and passing the HQS inspection, you and the tenant will sign a lease agreement. Subsequently, you'll submit the signed lease to your local PHA and receive a HAP contract to sign. 

This contract is between you and the PHA and outlines the terms under which you'll receive monthly housing assistance payments. With the HAP contract executed, you'll start receiving the housing assistance payments contract amount from the PHA covering a portion of the rent, with the remainder paid directly by the tenant.

By following these steps, you can successfully become a Section 8 landlord. This role not only contributes to the community by providing essential housing options but also offers financial benefits and stability for landlords. 

Remember, maintaining open communication with the housing authorities and your PHA and ensuring your property meets and maintains the required standards are key to a successful partnership in the Section 8 program.

State-specific information for Section 8 landlords

Navigating the Section 8 program as a landlord requires a nuanced understanding of local regulations and resources. Different states and even municipalities within states can have unique rules, application processes, and support resources for Section 8 landlords. 

This variation underscores the importance of familiarizing yourself with state-specific information to ensure compliance and maximize the benefits of the federal program itself.

The importance of understanding local regulations and resources

Local regulations can significantly affect various aspects of being a Section 8 landlord, including but not limited to rent determination, property inspection standards, and the tenant selection process. 

Additionally, some states or cities may offer additional subsidies or incentives for Section 8 landlords. Being well-informed about these local nuances can help you navigate the program more effectively and avoid potential pitfalls.

Resources for major states

  • New York: NYCHA (New York City Housing Authority) provides extensive resources for landlords in the city, offering guidance on how to become a Section 8 landlord, the inspection process, and more. Visit NYCHA's Section 8 Landlord Resources for detailed information.
  • Georgia: The Georgia Department of Community Affairs operates the HCV program statewide. Their website offers a landlord toolkit, FAQs, and details about the inspection process. For more information, check Landlord Information | Georgia DCA.
  • Arizona: The Arizona Department of Housing provides resources for Section 8 landlords, including information on how to list properties and what to expect from the inspection process. Visit Arizona’s Public Housing Authority Page for insights into managing Section 8 rentals in Arizona.
  • California: California's diverse cities and counties have their own PHAs with specific requirements. A general starting point for information is the California Housing and Community Development website, which links to various PHA resources across the state.

Azibo’s role in simplifying Section 8 landlordship

Azibo’s comprehensive suite of financial and property management tools can significantly streamline the administration of Section 8 properties, making the process less time-consuming and more efficient for landlords.

How Azibo can assist with the financial aspects of being a Section 8 landlord

  • Rent collection: Azibo offers a seamless online rent collection system, allowing landlords to receive payments directly into their bank accounts. This service is particularly beneficial for Section 8 landlords, as it simplifies the process of managing split payments between the PHA and the tenant.
  • Lease management: Keeping track of lease agreements, including specific Section 8 amendments and clauses, is important. Azibo’s lease management tools help landlords store, organize, and access lease documents in one secure, easy-to-use platform.
  • Tenant screening: While the PHA conducts its own tenant screenings for Section 8 eligibility, landlords are encouraged to perform additional screenings to ensure a good fit. Azibo provides comprehensive tenant screening services, including credit checks, criminal background checks, and eviction history, giving landlords peace of mind.

Are Section 8 rentals right for you?

The journey to becoming a Section 8 landlord is filled with opportunities to contribute positively to the community while reaping the benefits of a stable and reliable rental income. Despite the challenges and bureaucracy often associated with government programs, the advantages — such as predictable rental income, reduced vacancy rates, and access to a broader tenant base — make the Section 8 program an attractive option for many property owners.

Furthermore, state-specific information and resources play a key role in navigating the nuances of local regulations, ensuring landlords can maximize their participation in the program. Azibo's comprehensive suite of tools further simplifies the administrative burden, making the process of managing Section 8 properties more efficient and less time-consuming.

By taking the steps to understand and engage with the Section 8 program, landlords can open their doors to a segment of the population in dire need of quality housing, fulfilling an essential societal role while securing their investment's financial health.

How does Section 8 work for landlords? FAQs

What is the most Section 8 will pay landlords?

The amount that Section 8 will pay for a housing voucher is primarily determined by the local Public Housing Authority (PHA), based on a few key factors. These include the payment standard set by the PHA, which is based on the fair market rents for the area, established by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). The FMRs aim to reflect the cost of housing and utilities for moderately-priced rental units in the local market.

Additionally, the amount Section 8 will pay is influenced by the family's total annual gross income, their monthly adjusted gross income, and their family size. The program typically covers the gap between 30% of a family's full median income or monthly adjusted gross income and the payment standard.

However, the actual amount can vary, especially if the rent exceeds the payment standard. In such cases, families may be required to pay up to 40% of their adjusted monthly income for rent and utilities. The specific cap or maximum amount the Section 8 program will pay varies by location, housing market conditions, and other local factors.

How do I become a section 8 landlord in Chicago?

  1. Contact the Chicago Housing Authority (CHA): The first step is to get in touch with the CHA, as they administer the Section 8 program locally. They can provide detailed information about the program requirements and the application process.
  2. Ensure your property meets HUD's housing quality standards: Your property will need to pass an inspection that assesses it against HUD's housing quality standards to make sure it provides safe, sanitary, and decent housing.
  3. Market your property to Section 8 voucher holders: Once approved, you can advertise your property to Section 8 voucher holders. The CHA may offer platforms or listings where you can post your rental.
  4. Screen and select tenants: You retain the right to screen and select tenants according to your criteria, provided you comply with fair housing laws. The CHA must also approve the tenancy.
  5. Sign a lease and HAP contract: After selecting a tenant, you'll sign a lease with them and a Housing Assistance Payments (HAP) contract with the CHA, which outlines the payment terms and conditions.

How do I become a Section 8 landlord in NYC?

  1. Contact the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) or NYC Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD): These agencies manage the Section 8 program in New York City. They can guide you through the process and provide necessary forms and information.
  2. Undergo a property inspection: Your property must meet specific health and safety standards. It will undergo an inspection to ensure it aligns with HUD's housing quality standards.
  3. List your property: Once approved, you can list your property as available for Section 8 tenants. NYCHA and HPD offer resources to help you advertise your rental unit to voucher holders.
  4. Conduct a tenant screening and sign a lease agreement: You can screen potential tenants, so long as you adhere to fair housing laws. Upon selecting a tenant, you'll sign a lease with them and a HAP contract with the local housing authority.
  5. Receive payments: After all agreements are in place, you'll start receiving monthly payments from the housing authority, with the tenant paying the remainder of the rent, if any.

Important Note: This post is for informational and educational purposes only. It should not be taken as legal, accounting, or tax advice, nor should it be used as a substitute for such services. Always consult your own legal, accounting, or tax counsel before taking any action based on this information.

Gemma Smith

With 7 years in property management, Gemma serves as a key content strategist at While excelling in writing, editing, and SEO, she also enhances Azibo's social media presence. Passionately, Gemma educates others to make informed real estate investment decisions in the ever-changing market.

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