Section 8 in Oklahoma City is like a basket of apples. At times, you wind up with a perfect, beautiful apple from that basket.
At other times, the apple is rotten to the core. So rotten that it causes your stomach to turn, and leaves a lasting memory long after you have thrown the apple in the trash.
This article is about the good and bad side of Section 8 housing. Not everyone is cut out to be a Section 8 landlord.
Let me give the example of “Linda”.
Linda is a Section 8 tenant who has been in a client’s property ever since we took over management of the property more than ten-years ago.
Linda is elderly.
If there is drama in her life, we don’t see it. She’s like the aunt you wish you had. I can’t remember even one time when she’s been the least bit disagreeable.
It almost goes without saying that she takes excellent care of the property.
She doesn’t create maintenance problems by doing things like pouring grease down the sink.
We’ve never had to charge her with one single maintenance call.
She’s been patient with us when we’ve had to do repairs to her unit, which we have been required to do on occasion.
So what we have is a tenant who has been in the property for more than ten years, and shows no sign of leaving anytime soon.
That is a staggering amount of rent!
And, that the money comes straight from the government, so Linda has never presented us with a collections challenge.
It’s actually pretty simple.
As long Linda and the property stay within the guidelines of the housing program, the landlord is going to get paid from the government.
Linda also has a portion to pay, and she’s going to pay that portion so that she doesn’t screw up her housing.
It’s a pretty effective stick.
That is the pretty side of Section 8 Oklahoma City housing from the landlords point of view.
Here is my take on the not-so pretty side.
You can’t just accept every single housing voucher that comes in the door.
The property management company needs to screen the Section 8 recipient’s application just like any other applicant.
Every once in while you’ll wind up with apple that is rotten to core who presents you with their voucher.
These are the people who’s bad habits overwhelm the fear they have over loosing their housing voucher.
It’s the tenant who moves in three pit bulls when their lease says no pets.
Or, it’s the one who never bothers to pay their $13 portion, and therefore accumulates month after month of late fees.
After three months, they suddenly owe close to $200 because they failed to pay $39 in rent.
It’s the resident who doesn’t report leaks resulting in $500 damage rather than a $25 repair.
But even when you move in a not-so good apple, there are things that the management company needs to do.
The Section 8 program requires that the tenants take responsibility for problems they cause.
I haven’t found a tenant yet who wants to pay for repairs, but when you don’t put your foot down that tenant will walk all over you.
Yes, there will be wailing and gnashing of teeth.
There will be cries of how unfair…and why it wasn’t really their fault.
There will be threats of moving.
But you HAVE to put your foot down so that next time the not-so good apples is at least somewhat more careful.
And, you’ll be surprised at how many time it actually works.
For example, I had a Section 8 tenant who flushed a bunch of turkey bones down the toilet during Thanksgiving.
That’s right, BONES down the drain.
Newsflash: just because it’s possible to flush something down the drain doesn’t mean it’s a good idea.
It caused all sorts of problems beyond just the fact that the tenant couldn’t use her toilet.
Five adjacent units couldn’t use theirs, either.
And, the flooding in ALL the unit was a definite drawback.
That tenant got charged for all the plumber’s work and all the clean up.
It was more than $500, but they sure enough paid for it.
As a landlord, you can’t ask for much more.
We actually could have in this case (it was an expensive clean up), but did the best we could.
If it seems like I know a thing or two about the Oklahoma City Section 8 program, there’s a reason for that.
About 1/3 of the properties we lease are currently on Section 8.
If you are wondering if Section 8 is right for you, here are few items to consider.
How about Oklahoma City Section 8 rents?
Section 8 rents are supposed to be in line with market rents.
There are allowable ranges. That means not every OKC metro area neighborhood will be amenable to Section 8.
For example, a typical nice 1 bed apartment in many parts of Oklahoma City metro area rents for $500-$600.
The typical rent for a 2 bed house in the Oklahoma City metro is $600-$750, and rent for a 3 bed house is $750-$950.
A 4 bed house is typically in the $850 to $1,100 per month.
A tenant with a voucher for a property in those rental ranges should be able to get rental assistance.
The tenant’s income sometimes puts a cap on the rent which is lower than the allowable Section 8 rent.
Allowable rents are based upon rental comps for the neighborhood.
In that case, the landlord can decide if she will accept the rent or not.
So it should go without saying that not every property CAN go Section 8. There are some more expensive units, for example, a $1,400 per month 3-bedroom home, that’s not going to qualify for the program.
There is an inspection process.
The unit has to pass a HUD inspection.
The basic premise is that everything in the unit must be in working order.
For example, your property cannot have pealing paint, air coming in at doors and windows, crack or openings in the house.
The property must have operating appliances.
In short, it must be move-in ready.
There are a whole list of do’s and don’ts when it comes to the condition of the property. For a property that has been newly rehabbed, it’s usually a cinch to get it through a Section 8 inspection.
The thing is, all of the items on the inspection list are completely reasonable.
These are items that would need to be done anyway to keep the home in good repair.
It’s not everyone’s cup of tea.
Section 8 is not for every landlord.
And, many OKC property management companies flat refuse to deal with Section 8 in Oklahoma City.
My company embraces Section 8 in Oklahoma City. It’s a great fit for some of our owners.
We’ve gained competency in passing inspections on the first inspection.
To find out how to pass a Section 8 inspection the first time, read this article.
If it’s a property that a little tired, you may end up with a very long list of repairs as a result of the inspection. On the one hand, the last thing you want to do is spend a fortune on the property.
On the other hand, you may want to bring the property up with those repairs regardless because a property that doesn’t have issues tends to retain tenants longer term. You’ll also spend a lot less money on maintenance because these items will be fixed.
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