Section 8 Evictions Explained:
Many landlords choose to participate in the Section 8 program. Afterall, it offers the benefit of guaranteed rent subsidy payments. However, it may not always work out as expected. The tenant may stop paying their portion of the rent, seriously damage the property, or some other lease violation may arise. If it becomes necessary to pursue eviction, the landlord must follow not only state and local procedures for eviction, but also U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) regulations.
As a landlord participating in the Section 8 program, it’s essential to understand and protect your rights in case an eviction becomes necessary. By following proper documentation and communication practices, navigating the appeals process, and knowing one’s legal rights and options, a landlord can ensure a smooth eviction process while protecting their interests as a landlord.
What is Section 8 Housing?
The program is funded by HUD and was first authorized in 1937 to help elderly, disabled, and low-income residents afford suitable housing. The program has become commonly known as Section 8. Qualifying residents get vouchers that pay a portion of their rent. They can then rent from any landlord that accepts Section 8 vouchers. In general, a Section 8 tenant has to pay 30 to 40% of the rent while the local housing authority will cover the remaining 60 to 70%.
The Section 8 program offers benefits to both landlords and tenants. For tenants, Section 8 provides the opportunity to reside in safe, decent, and affordable housing that they may not have otherwise been able to afford. The most obvious benefit to landlords is having the government paying at least 60% of the rent every month.
The Section 8 Eviction Process:
For the most part, Section 8 evictions are much like the normal eviction process. The most substantial difference is the notice requirement. Section 8 tenants must be given a 30-day notice rather than a 5-day notice. Interestingly, this difference applies to the whole building meaning if a landlord has a multi-family rental property with both Section 8 tenants and non-Section 8 tenants, the landlord must give any tenant a 30-day notice prior to an eviction proceeding being filed. Another difference in the notice requirement is that the local housing authority must also be notified prior to a Section 8 eviction.
Step 1 – Identify Good Cause for an Eviction:
Like all evictions, the first step in a Section 8 eviction is to identify good cause. HUD is clear about what constitutes an “allowable circumstance for terminating tenancy” for Section 8 tenants. A Section 8 eviction is justifiable for:
- Material noncompliance, including non-payment of rent, substantial lease violations, fraud, and repeated minor violations;
- Drug-related or other violent criminal activity; or
- Material failure to carry out obligations under local, State, or Federal tenant laws.
Step 2 – Provide Notice:
The next step is to provide a Section 8 termination notice. The notice should be hand-delivered, sent via certified mail, posted to the door, or served by the sheriff or constable. The notice must provide 30 days for the tenant to vacate the premises or remedy the cause for the eviction. A copy of the notice should be sent to the Louisiana Housing Authority and any local housing authority. At a minimum, it is recommended that the notice include:
- That the tenancy is intended to be terminated;
- The date the tenancy will end;
- The rental amount due (for non-payment cases);
- The reason for the eviction, with enough detail so the tenant can prepare a defense;
- A warning stating that staying in the unit past the end date may result in court enforcement;
- An advisory that the tenant has 10 days to discuss termination with the owner; and
- A reminder that tenants with disabilities have the right to request reasonable accommodations during the hearing.
Step 3 – Discuss Eviction with the Tenant:
Per HUD regulations, Section 8 tenants are allowed ten days to discuss termination with the landlord in the presence of a housing authority representative. After the meeting, the landlord must provide a final written decision to the tenant.
Step 4 – File Petition for Eviction:
At this step, the process is no different than any other eviction. If the tenant has not vacated the property, the landlord may file a petition for eviction in the proper venue. The petition should include all relevant information regarding the parties, identify the property, and provide the cause(s) for the eviction. The court will then set a hearing and issue a citation and order to be served upon the tenant. The landlord must then prove his case at a hearing before a judge wherein the tenant may also present any defenses.
Louisiana Eviction Attorneys
We are a Gretna law firm that has served the New Orleans area since 1980. Our experienced creditors’ rights attorneys are well versed at handling evictions throughout Louisiana. If you have questions regarding the intricacies of a Section 8 eviction, our eviction lawyers can help answer your questions and lend advice. We take pride in offering an effective and efficient experience. Call us today for a free consultation and find out why so many of our clients come back to us.