The Department of Housing and Urban Development's (HUD) Housing Choice Voucher program, commonly known as Section 8 Housing, can be very advantageous for willing landlords. Very low income, senior or disabled prospective tenants must apply to be part of the program, and, if accepted, will usually have to agree to pay 30-40% of their income towards rent, and HUD will direct-deposit the balance directly to the landlord.
To get started, the property owner should contact their local Housing Authority office and request an inspection. The home must be clean, safe and sanitary. The windows must have screens. Many of our Broward County homes east of I-95 were built in the 1950s and 1960s before there was central air and heat. Consequently, HUD doesn't require a source of heating, but the property must at least have a window air conditioner.
Once the property is approved, it's time to find tenants. The most popular way of advertising a section 8 rental is probably the GoSection8.com website. You can list the property for free and upload additional photos for a small fee. Individuals can then contact you if they're interested.
It's important to screen Section 8 tenants the same way you would any other type of applicant. Have them fill out an application that lists the names and ages of everyone who will be living in the home. Conduct a background check on everyone 18 years or older. Check landlord references and verify employment.
Once you've settled on a likely tenant, have them sign a lease with the stated loan amount and any money that's due on the first day. HUD will pay its portion of the first and last month's rent, but the tenant is responsible for paying the entire security deposit which can be spread out over a few months if they are short of funds.
If the housing office approves the rent and lease, the landlord signs a 1099 with bank account information for direct deposit. If the office feels the rent is too high, you can ask a real estate agent to print out comparable rental listings that support your asking price and submit these to the case officer. You can lookup HUD's Fair Market Rent for any zip code through the HUD link at the end of this post.
Tenants can be evicted for failure to pay or abide by other lease terms. Follow the rules in the Florida Landlord and Tenant Act.
For more information from HUD, click here.