The City of Tucson, according to a Draft Housing Affordability for Tucson (HAST) proposal, appears to be considering requiring all Landlords to accept Section 8 tenants. From the limited research I have been able to do it appears that property owners and managers were not included in some of the initial meetings regarding this plan. Having represented Landlords for over 20 years, both large and small property management companies and individual owners, a requirement that owners accept Section 8 raises many concerns for me on behalf of my clients.
I am not disparaging the Section 8 housing program or suggesting that any property owner interested in participating in the program not do so. However, there are additional requirements when a landlord rents to a Section 8 tenant. These requirements may prove to be a hardship for some property owners, or they may simply be terms the Landlords is not comfortable having in place in what would otherwise be a private contract between two parties. Tucson Section 8 management has a history of failing to provide timely payment to Landlords in the past. If an owner is depending on the rent to pay a mortgage and fails to receive payment for rent, the payment on the mortgage could be late damaging the owner’s credit and resulting in late fees and penalties, or the delayed payment could ultimately result in the owner losing the property through foreclosure or a trustee’s sale. This is of course a worst-case scenario, but I believe it is not a position the owner should be required to accept.
Additionally, there are issues with rental rates and the renewal process when a landlord participates in the Section 8 program. Accepting a Section 8 Tenant means accepting the other requirements and lease terms required by HUD. Again, these provisions may not be practical or appropriate for some owners.
Today, it has come to my attention that the City is also considering a “Ban the Box” prohibition on criminal background screening for prospective tenants. This of course raises concern for the safety of property owners, property managers and neighbors whereby a dangerous individual with a known criminal background would be placed in a property putting other individuals at risk, resulting in increased evictions, property damage and violent activity.
I know many of my clients and friends have reached out to the City Council regarding these proposed changes and expressed their concern. Landlords are in the business of providing housing. They want to rent to wonderful individuals and families and help people create safe homes. The City of Tucson’s proposed provisions could prove detrimental and dangerous to our community. We don’t a pedophile or child sex offender being placed next a home or apartment with small children. The risk is simply too much when we have other options.
Please reach out to the Mayor and City Council and let them know of your opinions and concerns regarding these proposed policies.