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Section 8 Tenant Issues

Section 8 Program Tenant Issues (FAQ)

1.    What should I do if a Section 8 tenant is not complying with the lease, not paying

rent (on time or at all), or doing something illegal?

A:   If a Section 8 tenant is not complying with the lease, including not paying rent, you should take the same action as you would with an unassisted tenant.  The only difference is that you must notify the Housing Authority of any actions taken.  Give the tenant a written notice of the lease violation(s) and a deadline for compliance, and send us a copy.  If the tenant fails to comply, you may proceed with eviction according to state and local law.  If the tenant is doing something illegal, contact the local law enforcement agency and notify us by telephoning the toll-free crime/fraud tip line.

2.   How can the Housing Authority help me resolve a tenant issue?  Do you counsel Section 8 tenants?

A:  The Housing Authority requires Section 8 tenants to abide by a set of family obligations in order to receive program assistance.  If you notify us that a Section 8 tenant is acting or failing to act in accordance with these obligations, we can take measures that range from tenant counseling to proposing termination of their assistance.  It is your responsibility to enforce the lease, and to adopt any necessary lease enforcement measures.  Contact the Contract Terminations Unit if you have any questions (please see question #9).

3.   How can I evict a Section 8 tenant?  Does the Housing Authority get involved in the process?

A:   Section 8 tenants may be evicted for serious or repeated violations of the lease and/or violations of federal, state or local law that impose tenant obligations regarding use of the unit. The Housing Authority is not a party to the lease and is therefore not involved in the eviction process.  If you are evicting a Section 8 family, you should follow the same measures as if you were evicting a non-Section 8 tenant.  The only difference is that you must notify the Housing Authority Contract Terminations Unit 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 on the Department of Consumer Affairs website.

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

A:   You may pursue legal action against the tenant in Small Claims Court.

5.   How many violations does a tenant have to commit before getting "kicked off" the program?

A:  The Housing Authority has discretion to terminate assistance for serious or repeated violations of the program rules and family obligations, which include action or failure to act by Section 8 tenants and families, as well as guests.  We may consider all circumstances in each case, and factors including the seriousness of the case, the extent of participation or culpability of individual family members, the length of time since the violation occurred and more recent record of compliance, and the effects of termination of assistance on other family members who were not involved.

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

A:  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.  Remember to notify the Housing Authority (i.e., send us a copy) of any action taken.

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

A:   Program fraud/criminal activity, such as 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 the Housing Authority’s Fraud Unit. You can report crime/fraud by sending an e-mail to, or by calling our toll free Crime/Fraud Tip Line at (877) 881-7233.  If you prefer you may send a letter anonymously to the Housing Authority, Attention Fraud Unit, at P.O. Box 2129, Santa Fe Springs, CA 90670. When you report crime/fraud, please provide as much information as possible about the suspect (name, address, social security number) and the activity.  We will investigate all reports of crime/fraud and suspected crime/fraud in our programs. The toll-free Crime/Fraud Tip Line is confidential, and you can remain anonymous.  Even if you provide your name, we will never disclose it to the tenant.  Also, due to confidentiality, we cannot update an informant or provide outcomes of any investigations. Please call 911 for emergencies or crimes in progress, and contact the local law enforcement agency of any illegal activity.

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

A:  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. We will not approve a new family member until we verify their eligibility, and receive your written approval.  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.

9.   When can I terminate a contract for a Section 8 tenant?  How many days notice must I give?

A:   How you terminate a Section 8 contract depends on the reason and the time at which you are terminating the contract. If a tenant is in violation* of the lease, at any time during the tenancy, you can serve them with a 3-day notice (submit a copy to the Housing Authority).  If the tenant does not comply, you can follow up with a 30-day notice to vacate and/or begin the eviction process. The Housing Authority will proceed with contract termination upon receipt of a 30-day notice or an unlawful detainer.  So long as the Housing Authority receives all legal documents regarding the termination and eviction, we will continue paying you through the entire process, until the tenant either moves out or is legally locked out of the unit. If a tenant is not in violation of the lease, and you wish to terminate the contract (for reasons including business or economic purposes, or if you want to move into the unit), you are required to serve the tenant with a 90-day notice and provide a copy to the Housing Authority.  State law (SB 1098) requires owners to give subsidized tenants a lengthier notice to vacate than unassisted tenants, to reflect the difficulty low-income families face in locating housing. Owners cannot terminate a Section 8 contract for non-lease violations during the first year of the Section 8 tenancy, except in cases where owner and tenant mutually agree to the termination.  In cases where both tenant and owner agree to terminate the contract, a notice of mutual termination signed by both parties must be submitted to the Housing Authority at least 30 calendar days prior to the vacate date. A notice to vacate may be hand delivered to the tenant or a family member age 18 years or older.  A legal notice such as an eviction notice may be hand delivered to the tenant or a family member age 18 years or older, posted in front of the unit, and/or sent via certified mail to the tenant.  Copies of all legal/eviction notices must be provided to the Housing Authority.  You may contact the Contract Terminations Unit by the tenant's last name, as follows:  A to GREC  Luisa Cardenas Extension 8094   GRED to PACE  Elisa Turino Extension 8101   PACH to Z Frances Perfecto  Extension 8100

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

A:   No, Section 8 owners are not obligated to continue and/or extend a contract/tenancy.

11. What should I do if I decide not to terminate the Section 8 contract or at least not at that time?

A:  If you have notified the Housing Authority and the tenant that you are terminating the contract, but then either change your mind entirely, or decide to delay the termination, you must complete and submit a Termination Extend or Rescind Form to the Housing Authority. A copy of this form is also attached to the contract termination letter we send you when you notify us of the termination. Both you and the tenant must sign this form.  If you have questions regarding this issue and need to contact the Housing Authority, please call Richard Vega at extension 8186.  Please note that if the tenant has already received a voucher to move, they are not obligated to remain in the assisted unit.

12. If a Section 8 tenant abandons the assisted unit, at what point will the Housing Authority stop paying?

A:   If a tenant abandons the unit, the owner is obligated to notify the Housing Authority. You can keep the payment for the remainder of the month that the tenant left.  The Housing Authority will stop paying the 1st of the month following the date the tenant actually 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.

13. When is a new lease required? How do I make changes to the lease?

A:  If a cost or service covered in the lease (i.e., utilities, 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.

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