Rental Basics in Oakland>Question Details

Lee, Home Buyer in San Francisco, CA

What should I know about renting to section 8 tenants / Buying a house that has section 8 tenants in it?

Asked by Lee, San Francisco, CA Sun Oct 11, 2009

in general, or if you can link / point me to detailed resources that would be appreciated too. thanks.

Help the community by answering this question:


There are some differences in renting to a Section 8 tenant, even in Oakland. You will still have to abide by the Just Cause for Eviction ordinance in Oakland, but in addtiion, if you want to raise rent, you will need to be sure that the total rent with the increase does not exceed the "pay standard" which should be published with Oakland's Housing Association.

In addition, if you want to evict a tenant for what we terms as "no cause" eviction under Oakland's ordiance, such as owner move it, you have to give extra notice - 90 days.

Furthermore, there can be problems dealing with the local Housing Association in getting paid. They are required to do an annual inspection and if you don't pass, they stop paying. Getting back on their payment schedule can be a challenge.

The main reason people rent to Section voucher holders is that the rents they pay or often top dollar.

Jeff Woo, Esq.
Sedgwick, Detert, Moran & Arnold LLP
Complex Rental Hlousing Group
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Oct 12, 2009
Hi Lee:
There are multiple interpretation s here with the info in the question.
1. section 8 tenants: Make sure you pick the right one. Many of them ( personal experiences here), have not maintained the property as they should and believe it or not the (at least Oakland board), does not want to interfere on how the tenant should "live". It took me over $2000 in court to fight them becuas e they were not paying their "part" of the rent, and there is a personal part. It took me a further $2000 to get her out ( moving expenses they call it).
2. If they are living in a house you want to buy, make sure you can move in to the property. The rent control laws are very particular, and very difficult to get a "protected" tenant out. If you are buying the property, ask for a vacant proeprty at close of escrow. Give the tenant time to find another unit and be able to move.
3. An organization I belong to in Okaland, is called RHANAC. Join them if you are a property owner. They have very good advice.
4. Lastly, contact an "eviction" lawyer, someone familair with the rent control laws to make sure what you want is actually possible to achieve.
5. I have not rented to a section 8 tennant since. That of course does not mean any other tenant could not create a problem as well.

0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Oct 12, 2009
When you are open your rental properties up to section 8 tenants you are widening the pool of potential applicants as well as ensuring your rents will arrive on time. You must ensure that the building complies with certain standards set by the county who is administering the funds. You have the right as the owner to pick and choose whomever you want, whether section 8 or no, so long as you are not discriminating based on any of the protected categories. I definitely second the notion of contacting the local rent board in the city in which the property you are considering buying lies. And attend a landlord workshop held by the local agency, they can be very helpful in gaining basic knowledge of property management and your rights. Oh and check with your homeowners insurance agent, as they can offer advice on umbrella policies that protect you against liabilities.

Best of luck to you!

0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Oct 12, 2009
Dear Lee,
Are you buying the house as an investment or as a home for yourself? The answer to the second part of your question will vary a bit based on your answer to my question. In both cases you shoule be aware of rent contral in your city, Oaklnd has measure EE which you can read on the city's website. Many landlords prefer renting to section 8 because there is guaranteed income from the government subsidies. This, as far as I know, is the only difference in renting. Tenants rights remain the same as does landlord responsibilities. If you have never been a landlord before then I suggest you contact the rent board of the city you will be a landlord in and find out exactly what you need to know. In purchacing a property for rental income, if units are already rented then you will want to receive from the seller estoppel certificates which verify the rental income.
good luck with your transaction!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Oct 11, 2009
Section 8 tenants usually have a lease rather then month to month contracts as is required by the state. Other then that, it's basically the same. However, when you purchase any property with tenants in it, make sure you get a certificate of estoppel from the seller. Good luck!

Kamal Randhawa
"Straight answers every time"
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Oct 11, 2009
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