Evicting Section 8 tenants over delayed government payments violates federal law

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It’s against federal law to hold a Section 8 voucher-holder accountable for a local housing authority’s failure to pay the rent.  This means that a property owner cannot require a Section 8 tenant to pay the housing authority’s portion of the rent or evict a tenant because the housing authority’s payments are delayed.

The California Apartment Association wants to ensure that its members understand this regulation, as the partial federal government shutdown has dragged into its fourth week.

At present, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has enough money for Section 8 payments in February, but the same can’t be said for March, according to information provided by Judson Brown, housing division manager for Santa Ana’s Community Development Agency.

So if the government shutdown continues and HUD funding dries up, housing authorities may not be able to make timely rent payments past next month.

While Section 8 tenants are responsible for paying a portion of the rent — roughly 30 percent of their income — they’re not on the hook for the housing authority’s portion.

Besides banning evictions based on late housing authority payments, the federal government prohibits landlords from asking a voucher-holder to cover rent left unpaid by the Section 8 program.

Section 8, however, isn’t the only housing program affected by the shutdown. When an Alma, Ark., property manager didn’t receive her subsidies from the USDA this month and was and unable to reach her contact there, she told her tenants to either cover the missing portion of the rent or face eviction. The property manager has since learned that the subsidies will arrive after all, leading her to lift her eviction threat, the HuffPost reported.

Although money continues to come in, if the shutdown drags on, property owners receiving federal subsidies may have no choice but to exhibit patience.

“Public housing authorities, which are responsible for housing over 3 million low-income households nationwide, are doing everything they can to keep things running during this period of tremendous uncertainty, but it is unclear how long they can continue with business as usual for residents and landlords,” Sunia Zaterman, executive director of the Council of Large Public Housing Authorities, said in a news release from the National Low Income Housing Coalition.

Some remain hopeful that the stalemate in Washington, D.C., will end before housing voucher subsidies run out.

“We continue to stay optimistic and trust that the shutdown will be resolved before it starts impacting our agency and the people it serves,” the City of Los Angeles Housing Authority says in a statement, as reported by the Orange County Register.

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