Whether you’re a property owner in Chicago or someone looking for an apartment, chances are you’ve heard of Section 8, also known as Housing Choice Vouchers or HCV. The program exists to allow low-income families find quality housing within Chicago’s private market, using federal funds provided by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Through the program, the Chicago Housing Authority pays a portion of eligible families’ rent directly to the landlord. There is a waiting list to receive these vouchers, and names are selected from the waiting list randomly using a lottery service.
How Section 8 Apartments Are Rented
In Chicago, Section 8 tenants apply to apartments the same way any other tenant would—through the landlord’s standard application process. If they are approved by the landlord, a CHA representative will inspect the property to ensure that the unit meets basic housing quality standards.
Then, the tenant will sign the landlord’s lease and pay a predetermined portion of the rent, which is typically at least 30 percent of the family’s adjusted income. To cover the rest of the rent, the landlord enters a separate agreement with the CHA, in which the CHA agrees to pay for the balance of the rent, directly to the landlord.
In Cook County (so, in all of Chicago), landlords may not refuse to accept Section 8 tenants, as “Source of Income” is included in the Illinois Fair Housing Law’s protected classes. This resolution took effect in 2013 and was meant to encourage economically disadvantaged citizens to move toward the suburbs and decrease high concentrations of poverty-stricken areas within the city.
Landlords, can, however, reject applicants based on factors not related to their Section 8 status. For instance, if background checks or bill payment history are not up to snuff, or previous landlords cite problems with the tenant including property damage or problems with other tenants, or breaking lease terms, these can all be factors that contribute to a landlord rejection a Section 8 applicant.
Questions Owners Might Have About the Section 8 Program
As an investment property owner in Chicago, you might have some questions about how the Section 8 housing program affects your properties:
- How can I list my units for Section 8 renters? Start by contacting the housing authority. They will have to approve both you as a landlord and your properties, and your units will need to be inspected. After that, you’ll be able to list your properties for those who need to rent affordable housing.
- How much rent can I charge? You can set the rental price to be whatever you want, but it must be reasonably priced compared to your other units. If the rent is too high, you may be required to lower it to meet the needs of lower-income renters.
- What if I have problems with my tenant? Dealing with problem tenants who are Section 8 renters will be the same as dealing with any other tenant. Unpaid rent, excessive damage, or other issues will have to follow city regulations up to and including eviction.
Answers for Tenants Using HUD Vouchers
If you’re a renter in Chicago wondering about how to qualify for and rent a Section 8 apartment, you’ll have to apply at your local housing agency. The amount you pay for rent will depend on your income and family size. Unfortunately, the waiting list for receiving Section 8 assistance may prevent you from being chosen for eligible housing immediately. However, once you are accepted, you will be able to rent in any area that has Section 8 apartments available.
Getting Started with Section 8 Renting
If you want to start offering your properties as Section 8 units, your property management company can help. At Lofty, our goal is helping landlords achieve the best returns on their investment property, and we’ll help you work toward your goals, no matter what they are. As a property management company in Chicago, we have experience making sure that landlords are prepared for whatever might come their way, and we’ll help you get your apartments set up to pass inspection for Section 8 rentals, should you so desire.
We believe that investment property owners shouldn’t have to spend all of their time working on their properties, and we do everything we can to make sure that you live the life you deserve while being a landlord in Chicago. To learn more about all we can do for you, contact us anytime.