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Section 8 Enforcement FAQ in Calfornia

Section 8 Housing can be a challenge to understand, particularly when it comes to enforcement of the many rules surrounding low-income housing. With that in mind, we offer a Facts vs. Fiction: Section 8 Housing for landlords. First things first, what is Section 8 Housing?

What is Section 8 Housing: The Housing Choice Voucher Program (commonly known as Section 8) is a federally funded program providing monthly rental assistance to very low-income tenants renting units in the private market. The rental assistance is provided through a local housing authority. As most know California has a housing problem, this is particularly true for low income or government assisted renters. Below are the most frequently asked and answered questions via HACOLA.

Can the Housing Authority help me resolve a tenant issue?

The Housing Authority requires Section 8 tenants to abide by a set of family obligations to receive program assistance (see California Tenant Guidebook for specifics).  The Housing Authority can take measures that range from tenant counseling to proposing termination of their aid.  It is, however, the landlord’s responsibility to enforce the lease and to enforce all recommended Housing Authority measures.

Does the Housing Authority get involved in the eviction process?

Section 8 tenants may be evicted for severe or repeated violations of the lease and violations of federal, state or local law that impose tenant obligations regarding use of the unit. See [42 USC §1437f(d)(B)(ii)-(iii); see RPI Form 550]

The short answer is no, the Housing Authority is not a party to the lease, therefore, not involved in the eviction process.  If you are evicting a Section 8 family, you should follow the same steps used to evict a non-Section 8 tenant. One notable difference is that you must notify us of all legal action.

Legal action against the tenant must be in accordance with state and local law.  For more information, please refer to the California Tenant Guidebook.

What forms are needed to evict a Section 8 Housing tenant?

That depends on the violation. Below you is a short list of violations that can potentially warrant eviction.

If the violation prompting the notice involves a failure to pay amounts due under a lease, the three-day notice to pay or quit is used. [See RPI Form 576]

If the violation prompting the notice involves a correctable nonmonetary breach of a lease agreement, the three-day notice to perform or quit is used. [See RPI Form 576]

If the violation prompting the notice involves an uncorrectable nonmonetary breach of a lease agreement, the three-day notice to quit is used. [See RPI Form 577]

If the tenancy shifts to a month-to-month tenancy after the initial lease period and the tenant has occupied the property for more than one year, a 60-day notice to vacate is used. [See RPI Form 569-1]

Alternatively, if the tenancy shifts to a month-to-month tenancy after the initial lease period and the tenant has occupied the property for less than one year, a 30-day notice to vacate is used. [See RPI Form 569]

What recourse is available to me to collect monies owed if a tenant is being evicted for non-payment of rent?

Your strongest option for recourse is through the courts. You may pursue legal action against the tenant in Small Claims Court.

The Section 8 tenant is moving soon and has stopped paying their portion of the rent. What do I do?

You may serve the tenant with a three-day notice to pay delinquent rent or quit and pursue legal action in accordance with State and local law if they fail to pay the rent.  For more information on serving a three-day notice, you may refer to the California Tenant Guidebook on the Department of Consumer Affairs website.  

If I suspect fraud or criminal activity, whom do I call to report it? Can I remain anonymous?

Program fraud or criminal activity, such as an unauthorized person(s) living in the unit, unreported family income or assets, and criminal or drug activity at the unit, are violations of program rules, and they damage the integrity of our program.  If you suspect crime/fraud, please contact our Fraud Unit. The toll-free Crime/Fraud Tip Line. As the tip line and any communication are confidential and anonymous, we cannot update an informant or provide outcomes of any investigations.

Report crime or fraud by;  Sending an e-mail to fraudhotline@hacola.org, or by calling our toll free Crime/Fraud Tip Line at (877) 881-7233.  If you prefer, you may send a letter anonymously to:

Housing Authority of the County of Los Angeles
Attention: Fraud Unit
P.O. Box 1510
Alhambra, CA 91802.

When reporting a section 8 crime/fraud provide as much information as possible, i.e. (name, address, social security number) and the activity, HACOLA will take it from there.

What should I do if additional people move into the Section 8 unit?

The family obligations require Section 8 families to report all changes in household composition to the Housing Authority.  A family has 30 days to report additions resulting from the birth, adoption or court-awarded custody of a child. All other household additions must have prior approval from both the Housing Authority and the owner.

A person not listed on the family composition, who has been in the unit more than 30 calendar days (or more than 60 days in a 12-month period), is considered an unauthorized household member, in violation of the program rules.  Please report any unauthorized household members to the Fraud Unit.

Can I terminate a contract for a Section 8 tenant?

If a tenant is not in violation of the lease, and you wish to terminate the contract, you are required to serve the tenant with a 90-day notice and provide a copy of the notice to the Housing Authority per California Civil Code Section 1954.535.

Owners cannot terminate a Section 8 contract for non-lease violations during the first year of Section 8 tenancy.  For guidance on Lease violations, please refer to the California Tenant Handbook.

If a Section 8 tenant gives me a vacate notice, then changes his or her mind, am I obligated to continue the contract and provide an extension?

No, Section 8 owners are not obligated to continue or extend a contract or tenancy. Conversely, if you decide not to terminate the contract but have already notified the Housing Authority and tenant that you are terminating the contract, you must notify the Housing Authority of writing.  If you are delaying the termination, you must include the new date you are terminating the contract.

If a Section 8 tenant abandons the assisted unit, at what point will HACoLA stop paying?

In the case of tenant abandonment, the owner is obligated to notify the Housing Authority. The Housing Authority will stop paying the 1st of the month following the date the tenant abandoned the unit.  If necessary, an overpayment will be collected for housing assistance payments sent after the end of the month in which the assisted unit was abandoned.

When is a new lease required, and how do you make changes to the lease?

If a cost or service covered in the lease (utility responsibility or appliance ownership, security deposit, maintenance) changes, the tenant must be served with a 30-day notice regarding the change(s), and a copy must be sent to the Housing Authority. The tenant and owner must sign a new lease, and a new contract must be signed by the owner and the Housing Authority.

The information provided in this post is not intended to cover the many facets of Section 8 Housing. If you are considering becoming a Section 8 Housing landlord, you should consult with your local Housing Authority and become familiar with the rules and regulations. As with any government program regulations can change so be sure to keep abreast of these via the HACoLA website.

1 Statistical facts provided by www.hacola.org
2 State of California codes and forms provided via public housing authority (PHA).
https://www.hacola.org/section-8/for-section-8-owners/general-information-faqs