(AscendHealthy.com) – Are you familiar with Housing Choice Vouchers, also known as the Section 8 program? These are granted to low-income families and individuals across the United States. The intention is to allow them to live in places they might not typically be able to afford so that they can enjoy the benefits of high quality schools and close work commutes. Qualifying for Housing Choice Vouchers is tough enough to begin with, but once you do qualify, there’s the challenge of finding a landlord who will accept the Housing Choice Voucher. Once you qualify, this is one of the most difficult parts of being in the program — finding a place to land.
Why Do Landlords Dislike Housing Choice Vouchers?
Some landlords have biases against housing choice vouchers. First of all, they are only given to low-income families, and they may hold prejudices about people who have a low income. These assumptions can work against you — never mind the fact that the voucher actually guarantees the government will foot the bill for most of the rent!
Landlords also aren’t a fan of the extra paperwork that comes along with accepting Housing Choice Vouchers. And in addition to that, there are also mandatory inspections, as the government wants to ensure you’re living in good, healthy, safe conditions.
Lastly, there are purchase limits on Housing Choice Vouchers, and most landlords are disinclined to discount rent when rent is considered typical for the neighborhood, so that they can match the voucher.
Housing Choice Vouchers: The Details
If you qualify for a Housing Choice Voucher, the federal government will pay 70 percent of your rent. You will be responsible for the other 30 percent. The government provides the 70 percent directly to your landlord, while you provide them with your 30 percent. While it seems like a good deal for landlords, some are hesitant to accept Housing Choice Vouchers because of the inspections and additional paperwork as mentioned above.
Must landlords accept Housing Choice Vouchers? The answer is generally no, though there are discrimination laws on the books in 19 states. These laws don’t help you get accepted necessarily, or require a landlord to accept the Housing Choice Vouchers — they do make it illegal for landlords to discriminate based on the fact that you are hoping to use a voucher to secure your new rental.
Unfortunately, this means that if they find any other reason for disqualifying you, like a prior eviction, they don’t have to worry about that particular law applying.
How to Convince a Landlord to Accept Housing Choice Vouchers
Convincing a landlord to accept your voucher may be key to securing rent in an ideal location. Most rentals aren’t even qualified for Housing Choice Vouchers in the first place — which is really overwhelming if you’re depending on using Housing Choice Vouchers. Here are some ways to convince a landlord to give you a chance with a Housing Choice Voucher:
- Remind the landlord that 70 percent of the rent is guaranteed every month — that’s because the federal government pays that much directly to them. If the landlord rents to voucherless tenants, that’s not true.
- You can provide proof of on-time rent payments, good rental history, and prior success with the Housing Choice Voucher program, if you’ve used it before.
- You can show your family’s income, proving that you can easily meet the remaining 30 percent of rent each month.
- Provide proof and evidence of having left previous rental properties in excellent condition. You might get letters of recommendation to corroborate this.
- Get a friend or family member vouch for you in case your portion of the rent can’t be paid. They must be willing to sign a legal continuation to pay the rent should you be unable to.
Are you experiencing discrimination when trying to rent with a Housing Choice Voucher? This may be illegal, and you can file a complaint online or by reaching out to 1-800-669-9777.
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