The City of Tucson is currently considering adding source of income as a protected class under Fair Housing. The City has noted that fewer Landlords are participating in the Section 8 voucher program, and many Section 8 recipients are in need of housing. The ordinance (we do not yet have a complete draft making this partially speculative) would require landlords to accept tenants whose source of income for housing is HUD Section 8 or other government or charitable subsidies. The primary impact would be the requirement that all Landlords accept tenants using Section 8 vouchers.
In years past the City of Tucson has taken months to process Section 8 payments, leaving participating owners in with arears of tens and hundreds of thousands of dollars. Landlords have experienced delays in Section 8 processing renewals, home inspections and much more. Additionally, if a tenant damaged a property or failed to return it a clean condition at move out, Section 8 was not and is not responsible for repairs and cleaning; this often leaves landlords with damages for which they could not be compensated.
Concerns regarding the legality and constitutionality of such an ordinance have also been raised by many. When participating in Section 8 a Landlord is required to accept and sign the standard HUD lease, a contract between HUD and the landlord. This lease provides for additional time and notice requirements for breaches of the lease including nonpayment of rent, placing greater burdens and additional requirements on the landlord. The Ordinance if passed would force landlords to contract with Section 8 and violate the Arizona Constitution’s Contract provisions. Other concerns include infringement on private property rights, 1,800 pages of HCVP rules with which Landlords must comply, forcing Landlords to accept electronic payment, mandating the use of a contract of adhesion and eliminating an owner’s freedom of association and right to negotiate contracts, and rents for all Tucson residents will increase as owners are required to take on more risk. Landlords are the only business owners who will be required to accept a certain type of payment from a customer. Landlords are still recovering from the overburdensome restrictions under COVID where they were the only business owners required to provide their product or service essentially free of charge (as the likelihood of actual recovery of damages for unpaid rent was minimal).
When the City first proposed this Ordinance in late 2021 the Landlord community came together and reached out to Section 8 and the City to try and address the City’s concerns without placing undue burdens on landlords. (The requirement will apply to all landlords whether they own one rental property or hundreds.) More multifamily housing complexes have added their communities to the list of properties that will accept Section 8, many groups have spoken with and continue to speak with the mayor and City Council to warn them of the many unforeseen consequences (such as increased rent for all residents) that this ordinance will create. We believed we were making progress in the early party of the year as the City appeared to be working with Landlords and the matter was tabled for several months, but it has recently come to our attention that the City plans to vote on the ordinance in mid-September. This would be a disastrous step for Tucson.