How to Become a Section 8 Landlord in Washington, DC

How to Become a Section 8 Landlord in Washington, DC

More than 3,400 District of Columbia landlords participate in the Housing Choice Voucher Program or Section 8, which helps qualified households cover rent.

Because the wait lists tend to be long, the pool of potential tenants is large. That, plus the guaranteed payment through the government-funded voucher, leads many to pursue being a Section 8 landlord.

Before you start down that path, it’s a good idea to understand the program and the criteria set out by the District of Columbia Housing Authority. Let’s take a look at what it means to accept vouchers in DC.

Understanding Section 8 Housing

Formally the Housing Choice Voucher Program, Section 8 helps low-income renters find affordable housing. The program provides housing vouchers to more than 2 million households across the country and is administered by local housing authorities.

Because assistance comes in the form of vouchers, tenants can find and choose their own housing as long as it passes inspection and the rent falls within the fair market rate established by the housing authority. This provides a viable alternative to subsidized government housing projects by allowing renters to choose a place to live that best meets their needs.

Landlords receive the subsidy directly from the housing authority, and the tenant pays the difference between the rent amount and the Section 8 voucher amount. Tenants have to have an income of less than half the area’s median income and be able to cover 30 percent of the rent.

Become a Section 8 Landlord in DC

Unlike in some locations, joining the Section 8 program in DC doesn’t start with an application. Instead, you advertise your property with the DCHA. Mention in your listing that you welcome voucher holders to apply to rent from you.

Once tenants apply for your property, they can provide you with a Request for Tenancy packet, which has all the documents you’ll need to get paid. The process proceeds once you have them filled out and submitted.

From there, the DCHA will schedule an inspection to ensure your property is up to code. You’ll have to get recertified every year for as long as you have a voucher tenant in that property. The DCHA will get you set up with a direct deposit for the voucher portion of the rent.

Screen and Rent

The DCHA doesn’t screen applicants beyond checking that they meet income requirements to receive a voucher. This means it’s still your responsibility to screen applicants to ensure they meet the criteria you have set for renting your property.

You aren’t required to accept someone who has a voucher, but you can’t deny them solely because they have a voucher payment. In DC, a voucher is considered protected under the local fair housing law.

You can still run a background and credit check as you would for any potential tenant. You should also confirm income and that the tenant will be able to pay the difference after the voucher is applied. 

Need Help With the Section 8 Program?

When vacancy rates are high, a great way to find potentially good tenants is by becoming a Section 8 landlord. The voucher program guarantees most of the rental rate, while your tenant covers the remainder. The waiting lists are often years long, providing you with a ready and waiting pool of renters.

Concerned about turning your property into a Section 8 rental? Let us handle the details as part of our property management services, so you can just enjoy your investment income.

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