What Section 8 Means for Your Neighborhood

Author: | Posted in Section 8 No comments
What Section 8 Means for Your Neighborhood

There is no doubt about it, experts, financial gurus, and real estate moguls are flooding the media with the news that now is a terrific time to buy. The downside, is that buying a home comes with hefty out of pocket expenses and increasing guidelines for credit requirements ‘”and many buyers don’t make the cut, at least, not yet. Unfortunately, this puts many buyers in a position where they will have to continue renting for a few years before making a home purchase. Because of this, real estate investors are flooding the market, buying properties left and right; then turning those properties into rentals. While there are many reasons (as a Realtor), I am not a gigantic fan of residential rentals, I am even less of a fan when it comes to section eight rentals.

What is section eight?

Section 8 is a government subsidize program, designed to help low-income families pay rent by subsidizing as much as 80f their monthly payment. The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) administers this program through local offices, subsequently paying out monthly benefits in the form of rent checks. Simply due to the guarantee of timely payment, many landlords find section eight opportunity’s viable and less risky than renting to a traditional tenant. After all, with section eight tenants there exists less possibility of having to evict them due to nonpayment of rent ‘”one of the main reasons property owners must evict across the board.

What I have seen in neighborhoods

Overall, renters present their own problems to a neighborhood; they do not have the same pride of ownership in a property that homeowners do, and I have seen this across the board. For instance, they are less likely to maintain a lawn or inform the landlord that the exterior of the house needs painting or some other maintenance item that affects property values for neighbors. When it comes to section eight renters, I have seen this probability for devaluation increase exponentially; many of these tenants have already fallen upon hard times and require government assistance, meaning they often do not possess the funds, the will or the capability to maintain property to neighborhood standards.

My personal experience

When I moved to Texas 10 years ago, my family and I lived in an apartment complex. Originally, that property was not open to section eight tenants. For the first two years that we lived there, everything was tranquil, peaceful and serene, however; when year three rolled around, the property owner decided to open up units to section eight renters. All of a sudden, we saw a sharp increase in crime. Cars were broken into, stereos stolen, apartments vandalized, and a strong police presence began to exist every day in the parking lot, not for security, but for arrests. In fact, the reason we chose to move from that apartment complex and buy a home was an incident with gunfire occurring right next to our unit, with bullet holes six inches to the left of our daughter’s bedroom window.

I am not saying that all of the property deterioration we experienced was the fault of section eight tenants. I am saying that there is a sharp contrast between when crime when we signed the lease and when the complex was open to section 8 tenants that cannot be ignored. Even during my time working in real estate, I have seen pattern emerge time and again from complex to complex and neighborhood to neighborhood.

What you can do

Having a homeowners association is often your best protection from section eight rentals available in your area. Owners and renters can approach a homeowner’s association or tenant association and request by laws prohibiting landlords renting to section eight tenants that do not violate Fair Housing Laws.

Of course, I am not advocating housing discrimination. That would be irresponsible, trite and hackneyed. I do feel it is prudent to advise the public of the facts I have encountered regarding section eight tenants, in addition to sharing my experiences, personally and professionally when section eight becomes a reality in many neighborhoods. To find out more, talk to your homeowner’s association about prohibiting Section 8 rentals in your neighborhood.